Costa Rica result an 'alarm bell' for Italy

MANGARATIBA, Brazil (AP) — Costa Rica’s 3-1 impressive win against Uruguay was one of the biggest surprises in the opening matches of the World Cup. It certainly got Italy’s attention.

“That alarm bell could be an advantage for us,” Azzurri midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. “It should help us enter prepared like we did against England. If they had lost 3-0 or 4-0 to Uruguay maybe we wouldn’t. But now I’m sure that won’t happen.”

Coming off an impressive 2-1 win against England, Italy faces Costa Rica today at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife.

Costa Rica entered the World Cup ranked 28th and was expected to be the doormat squad in Group D alongside three former champions that have accounted for seven titles between them — four for Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006), two for Uruguay (1930, 1950) and one for England (1966).

“It’s a squad that surprised everyone,” De Rossi added. “Nobody expected them to beat a big team like Uruguay so handily.”

Costa Rica and Italy each have three points, but the central American side tops the group on goal differential. A win for either Italy or Costa Rica would just about assure a spot in the next round.

Italy will be wary of Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell, the 21-year-old who scored one goal and set up another against Uruguay.

While Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu performed admirably against England, he could return to the bench with captain Gianluigi Buffon working his way back from left ankle and knee injuries.

The match will kick off at 11 a.m. CDT and — depending on the weather — that could mean playing under a scorching sun.

“Last year we played Japan in Recife at 9 p.m. and we were dying,” De Rossi said, recalling how the Azzurri struggled to overturn a two-goal deficit and beat Japan 4-3 in a wild Confederations Cup match. Costa Rica is “more accustomed to this climate but I think both squads would accept timeouts.”

Italy was upset timeouts were not invoked during the England game in Manaus, although FIFA explained the heat level wasn’t high enough to warrant breaks.

The Italians combatted the heat in Amazon jungle city by relying on a high-percentage passing strategy and minimal running. Expect more of the same against Costa Rica.

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