In what has become a highly anticipated showdown since each recording victories in the first round of matches in Group D at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Italy and Costa Rica will face off at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife at 2:00am Saturday morning; the winner almost assured progression to the tournament’s knock-out stage.
Sneaking home to beat England 2-1 in their campaign-opener earlier this weekend, Italy will have to find top gear early if they are to continue their winning ways against a Costa Rican side who registered one of the 2014 World Cup’s biggest upsets so-far when beating Uruguay 3-1 in their first match.
Leading online bookie Ladbrokes Australia is currently offering the best odds on all matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and has created a range of unique specialty markets for each fixture including Italy vs Costa Rica.
How They Will Play
Favouring a defensive formation which also allowed a clear-cut attack when facing England earlier in the week, Manager Cesare Prandelli is likely to field a modified 4-3-3 formation for Italy’s match against Costa Rica; aiming to lay the pressure on Los Ticos defence from the opening whistle.
With obvious option Gianluigi Buffon between the posts, Prandelli is sure to field the same defensive four which largely kept England at bay for 90 minutes, however will leave star player Andrea Pirlo on his own between the defensive and midfield lines, pushing De Rossi and Motta further up the pitch to feed a potent attack of Cassano, Balotelli and Rossi.
While lacking wingers with this formation, the addition of two wide defenders capable of pushing up in support of the offence will allow Italy to play with flowing freedom when pressing into the Costa Rican half while still provide necessary cover when needed in defence.
One of the 2014 FIFA World Cup’s most well-rounded squads, Italy are spoiled for choice with interchange options and are more than capable of comfortably shutting down everything Costa Rica will throw in attack.
Player To Watch – Andrea Pirlo
Easily the most experienced player at Prandelli’s disposal, Pirlo comfortably played England star Wayne Rooney out of their World Cup opener, allowing Italy to dominate possession and shut down the majority of the Three Lions’ attacking raids. Likely to be the only link between Italy’s midfield and defence, Pirlo will play a key role in the Azzurri’s success tomorrow morning.
How They Will Play
Stunning Uruguay with a keen ability to make the most of their few chances and secure three valuable competition points first-up, Manager Jorge Luis Pinto will be looking to his playing roster to once again dig deep and give their chances of progression another huge boost with a famous victory over Italy.
Likely to field precisely the same line-up which stunned pool favourites Uruguay, Costa Rica will play a back three of Duarte, Gonzalez and Umana, with a roaming wing pairing of Gamboa and Diaz given permission to roam as far forward as necessary whilst still offering a fourth and fifth defensive option. With Ruiz, Tejeda, Borges and Bolanos alternating in holding and box-to-box midfield formations, classy striker Joel Campbell will take a lone position up front.
Likely to come up against an Italian side without recognised wingers, Costa Rica will aim to keep the ball wide, attacking from the edges and offering Campbell the best chance of quality ball behind the Italian defence.
Player To Watch – Joel Campbell
Undoubtedly the best player for Costa Rica when beating Uruguay was Joel Campbell, and the Arsenal man will again need to record a standout performance if his nation is any chance of success against Italy. His pace and ferocity exposed the Uruguayans and he will be in line for the best young player award at the 2014 World Cup if registering another standout performance for Costa Rica tomorrow morning.
Italy are clear favourites to secure a second World Cup victory on Saturday morning, and with such a comprehensive, proven squad, Costa Rica may find it difficult to replicate their first round heroics. Italy will control play in the centre of the park, maintain possession and not allow Los Ticos the chance to unleash Campbell.
Italy vs Costa Rica World Cup Betting Plays
Italy are currently available at 2014 World Cup odds of $1.50 to beat Costa Rica and take a huge step towards progression at Ladbrokes.com.au, while the Central Americans can be taken at generous $6.50 odds to cause another upset.
Expecting to spend a good portion of his time in his own half, punters may find value in placing an anytime goal scorer bet on Costa Rican gun Joel Campbell at current $3.75 odds, or back Campbell to open the scoring and put Costa Rica in the clear at $9.
Making their move well and truly into the second half after holding Uruguay at bay, a bet on the correct score at half time is well and truly worth consideration if you believe Costa Rica will register a similar performance against Italy. Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering generous odds of $3.20 for Italy to be leading 1-0 at the break, or $7 for a lead of 2-0.
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