Costa Rica takes on Italy today, at Arena Pernambuco. Kickoff is at 10 a.m. Costa Rica time.
By Alfonso Duro
June 20th, 2014 (VOXXI) Things couldn’t have started better for Costa Rica in the World Cup as their victory against Uruguay threw all predictions out the window.
The Ticos were placed in one of the toughest groups in the World Cup, alongside three former champions like Uruguay, Italy and England. The Central American nation was by far the clearest odd man out in the group, but their first approach to the tournament, turning around a 1-0 partial result for Uruguay into a 3-1 victory over the Charruas, has made lots of people rethink the way they view Costa Rica.
The team coached by Jorge Luis Pinto has seen a reboot in terms of their new generation of players in the National Team. The old school has given way to players who are shining in Europe, and these youngsters are willing to make Costa Rica the next giant of CONCACAF.
While Mexico and the USMNT have also impressed in their first matches in Brazil — Honduras being the only team from the region not to win their opening match–, Costa Rica is definitely the most unexpected squad to succed, as they were the least poised for success seeing the group they had been drawn in.
Now, against Italy, Costa Rica has very little to lose –as they lead group D– and they know that a victory would not only mean another planetary shocker, but also the confirmation that the Ticos are now a force to be reckoned with.
Pinto will rely on the men that have brought him this far to put the Azzurra against the ropes, and the stability of the team is actually based on Keylor Navas.
Levante’s goalkeeper has been one of the sensations of La Liga, and there are rumours both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are chasing after his signature for next season.
While the Catalans have already sealed the arrival of both Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo, there are still many possibilities for the 27-year-old goalkeeper to join the big leagues next year, and a good performance against Italy and England, could prompt him to the top of the list of desired goalkeepers in Europe.
Italy, on the other hand, gets to the match against Costa Rica yearning for glory. Their victory against England has given them a great margin of error in a tough group, and now they hold the key of their own destiny against the Ticos.
The new style introduced by Prandelli has signaled the rebirth of Italian’s expectations in the World Cup, and the entire country is quite hopeful that the new approach could bring the fifth World Cup title home.
But before that they will have to overtake the mighty Costa Rica squad, and Pinto and his men are more than happy to crush the Italian’s hopes.