Wednesday June 18 2014
Prandelli must adapt for Costa Rica

Cesare Prandelli faces a tough task in deciding his Italy approach against surprise package Costa Rica, explains Alasdair Mackenzie.

Costa Rica’s historic 3-1 victory in their opening World Cup fixture against Uruguay prompted an elated response from neutral fans, as they cheered on the underdogs against one of world football’s most decorated sides.

But as the Azzurri prepare to take on Los Ticos after an excellent opening win against England, an important question must be considered – should their win over the South American giants be considered only an upset?

Costa Rica’s record in the competition may not be the most impressive – once making it to the Last 16 in their debut in Italia ’90 and twice out in the group stage in 2002 and 2006 – but Uruguay paid the price for underestimating a dangerous opponent that thoroughly deserved their win.

Undoubtedly, Prandelli will benefit from Uruguay’s spectacular collapse. Not only does it give the Azzurri an advantage over one of their supposed rivals to top the group, but the result will ensure that Italy’s Coach does not take their second match lightly.

Not that he is the type in any case. But, Italy do traditionally struggle in their second group match in major competitions and the challenge they will face on Friday evening will be a significant one.

Much attention has rightly been paid to the impressive, clinical manner in which the Costa Ricans took their three goals against Uruguay but their foundation still lies in defensive organisation. One of La Liga’s goalkeepers of last season Keylor Navas will provide stiff opposition to the Azzurri’s forward line as, along with his defensive colleagues, he only conceded seven goals in 10 qualifying matches.

Fans of the Azzurri will have been delighted with an excellent win in their opening game against England, but Gabriel Paletta and Andrea Barzagli did not look particularly comfortable up against the pacey Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. Joel Campbell will provide a similarly explosive threat with Bryan Ruiz shouldering the creative responsibilities, but by fielding Daniele De Rossi in a similar ‘enforcer’ role behind the midfield line their threat on the counter attack could be lessened.

With Prandelli’s organisation and a strong and experienced backline, it would seem that the Italians are less likely to be carved apart by the Ticos’ frontline than their haphazard Uruguayan counterparts. However, the Coach must also find a way of breaking down a robust defence that excelled in their opening match.

Michael Umana and Oscar Duarte have a good understanding and form an impressive partnership in the heart of defence. Goalkeeper Navas showed the world his undoubted quality with some stunning saves from Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani in the opening match, and the Azzurri will have to be at their devastating best to get on the scoresheet at all.

Antonio Candreva impressed in the opening fixture, providing a vital link between the midfield and an often isolated Mario Balotelli. His contribution will again be vital, but it is likely that Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti will be allowed to dictate play, meaning that Prandelli has a difficult decision to make over what attacking approach to deploy against Costa Rica.

He is in a privileged position with some fantastic options available to him. Many would like to see Capocannoniere Ciro Immobile play up front alongside Balotelli, but the thought of Alessio Cerci, Lorenzo Insigne or Antonio Cassano running at full throttle is likely to be enough to wake up Costa Rican defenders in a cold sweat.

The potential return of Gianluigi Buffon and Mattia De Sciglio provides another huge boost and Buffon’s leadership particularly will be vital in ensuring his side do not become complacent. Prandelli thrived in his natural area of strength against England, a tactical battle, but he must now prepare his players to live up to their positions as comfortable favourites and ensure Costa Rica do not add another chapter to their fairytale story.

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Have your say...
Message to Diego Costa Rica
Italy never underestimate any team. Costa Rica has full respect. Costa Rica played very well against Uruguay and deserved to win 100% but today we will have to win to make sure to qualify just like your team needs to do. I hope my country wins just like you hope yours. It will be a good game.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 2:08pm
AMB Motta is not a horse although sometimes he plays like one.

As for Balo,he was born in Italy therefore he has every right to play for us.
on the 20th June, 2014 at 2:01pm
Reply to anonymous. Balo was 3 years old and he was adopted by a caring Ita family. In return he wanted to become an Italian. Balo will always have my support whatever the outcome.

As for Sanrella. Actually you offended Motta because he is not Italian. I only stated the facts. It is called "Per Ius Sanguinis". Right of blood. It is an old Roman law in which place of birth doesn't mean you are from there. To make it simple "If a dog is born in a stable, It doesn't make him a horse".
on the 20th June, 2014 at 1:01pm
Congratulations to jenkins.
I agree with you whole rant!
I think maldini heir should change his name- 'I love balo', I think that would suit him just fine. If any1 would care to help maldini heir find a more appropriate name please blog away on footy italia.
Sirigu should continue- once again- prandelli, the man who claims to pick players based on form once again picks the name not form! Buffon is a legend but when a player puts in a show like that against england they should start!
on the 19th June, 2014 at 7:01pm
So whats balotelli excuse??
on the 19th June, 2014 at 6:55pm
AMB I totally disagree with you.

You have your opinion and I have mine so I don't need to 'grow up' but you obviously do if you feel the need to hurl insults.
on the 19th June, 2014 at 6:13pm
@ Diego....Costa Rica far play for coming on here. You're a brave man. Let's hope England and Uruguay draw this evening and we both go through! I'll will be hoping for an Italy win tomorrow. May the best team win!
on the 19th June, 2014 at 6:05pm
For the first time- I think I have to 100% agree with you! Its costa rica we are going on as if we are about to face germany or something! We should be able to win with the u21 squad! The only worry is the whole 2nd game syndrome! Other than that, italy all the way!
on the 19th June, 2014 at 4:54pm
Hello, Im from Costa Rica and we know the match against Italy is complicated, but not imposible..
Just dont underestimate us because we have what we need to win, speed, weather, tactical order..
We all hope to see a great match, lets have fun and enjoy the world cup.

Good luck and let the best wins!!

Pura Vida, Costa Rica!!
on the 19th June, 2014 at 3:48pm
My my are we not giving too much to Costa Rica? Joel Campbell is a player to be respected but not feared otherwise Italy have no business in this world cup. Uruguay were awful just plain awful on the day. Let us not overlook that for a second. No pace or anything resembling creativity at all. Cavani was hopeless yet again as he is most times I watch him. Sure he has a very good work ethic but his overall play is pretty ordinary. The worry is Italy's 2nd match syndrome
on the 19th June, 2014 at 12:44pm
Message to SANRELLA.
Would you have said the same thing if MESSI had opted to play for Italy instead of Argentina? What you need to understand is that a lot of Italians had left for the American countries to look for work in the 1900. They didn't leave Italy willingly so if their grandsons want to play for us then we must be happy. Paletta had not a great game but he is a good defender. He just had a bad game. Grow up mate and you should be honoured that they haven't forgotten their roots.
on the 19th June, 2014 at 11:23am
England and Uruguay have one less day to rest but Sao Paulo where they are playing is showing a temperature of 13oC for today with rain.They are also playing in the evening.
We have a days more rest but are playing in Recife which will be 28oC tomorrow with rain and at 1pm.
on the 19th June, 2014 at 10:56am
If we beat Costa Rica then we will play second round game on Sun 29. This will give us 9 days rest. Cesare needs to then play reserve team with Uruguay so we will be really fresh for second round game. This would be a big advantage for us in my view. Hope we go through with Costa Rica. My team against Costa Rica: Sirigu, Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, Darmain, De Rossi, Pirlo, Verratti, Marchisio, Candrva, Balotelli. Go strong here then if we win big changes for uruguay game.
on the 19th June, 2014 at 10:24am
I agree with "Jenkins". I would play Sirigu against Costa Rica. If Barzagli is injured then Bonucci must play alongside Chiellini. Darmain, Bonucci, Chiellini,Abate all should play with Cosat Rica. Hopefully De Sciglio back for Uruguay. I am a fan of Paletta but have been very disappointed in his last few performances for italy. He plays in a 3 man defence for Parma and struggles in other systems. Hope Uruguay beat england. Forza Italia
on the 19th June, 2014 at 10:20am

Montolivo is injured so please get your facts right
on the 19th June, 2014 at 7:54am
Ballotelli and Candreva are doing well.

I think this should be their line up.

Insigne Candreva

Verrati Pirlo Marchisio

Palleta Chiellini Bagzarli Abate

on the 19th June, 2014 at 7:09am
The competition is not up to much. Italy will win the World Cup. Brazil, Argentina, Holland (the Spain game was a one off) will not beat us and we always beat the Germans.........!!!!!!!!

We need to win this game, cautiously if we must, and then play our second team in the last game. We need to save our energy.
on the 19th June, 2014 at 6:52am
Start the same players as the England game..forget about resting players...only change is Bonucci for Paletta...if Costa Rica focus to shut Pirlo down..Candreva and Marchisio will deliver. Balo "Even with all his hanging around" will score. Motta no..Cierci in midfield yes.
Let's get this done with Sirigu as not underestimate Costa Rica I followed them during W.C. Qualifing...
on the 19th June, 2014 at 3:44am
you are too naive.. not only because you named montolivo in your list, but also these things :

1. Barzagli isn't best CB..even you consider him as best CB, why'd u rest him? Underestimating Costa Rica? if you rest your best player in world cup, even when face the weakest team, it will cost you much

2. C'mon dude..this isn't friendly match.. this is World Cup.. you can not give another chance to a player who is not impressed.. moreover he is not key player like Pirlo or Buffon
on the 19th June, 2014 at 2:11am
@gaja You are absolutely right! Even if Montolivo is there, he is not suitable to play as a left winger. What I mean is "Marchisio".
on the 18th June, 2014 at 11:41pm
Winning the first game which was probably the most important one to get a good start now means the second isn't so vital.Therefore Prandelli might be tempted to make more changes than he would have otherwise.

He also has an advantage in that England v Uruguay is the day before.Therefore if they draw then its even less risky for him to tinker with the team to face CR.
on the 18th June, 2014 at 10:53pm
Great to see Spain knocked out although I'd rather play them in later rounds rather than Chile.England also out and a win for us over CR and thats a perfect few days.

Don't want to see Paletta play for Italy again and thats not just because how he played against England but also because at least one of your parents should be italian to qualify to play for the azzurri.That means Motta doesn't play aswell.
on the 18th June, 2014 at 10:37pm
@DieHardAzzuriFan - Montolivo is not in the Azzurri World Cup squad.
on the 18th June, 2014 at 10:22pm
Maldini's Heir,

Isn't there a UFC or MMA event you can follow? Maybe the Miami Heat?

How long have you followed La Nazionale?
on the 18th June, 2014 at 10:05pm
News as of Wed, 5.50pm EST.

Spain ELIMINATED from World Cup. One less threat for us.

Thank you, Chile (but we can beat you too).
on the 18th June, 2014 at 9:58pm
Dont play buffon,motta,or bonucci abate needs to plays aswell as insigne
on the 18th June, 2014 at 9:54pm

Montolivo - Pirlo - Candreva

De Rossi - Motta

Darmian - Chiellini - Paletta - Abate


1) Rest Barzagli who is prone to injury. He is the best CB in the squad.

2) Give Paletta another chance to prove himself.

3) Play Cassano, Cerci and Immobile in the second half, especially if the score is either draw or losing.

4) Rest Pirlo, Balotelli and Candreva whenever the win is already secured.
on the 18th June, 2014 at 9:29pm
Rotating the team before securing progression is risky and complacent, unless you want the 2nd game tradition to stay alive. Secure progression then rotate in the 3rd game. The only changes I think are needed:
1) move Chiellini to CB in place of Paletta and bring in Abate/De Sciglio at FB.
2) play Cassano in place of Candreva/Marchisio.

IMO the same level of possession is needed, so Costa Rica are tired out in the later stages, but at the same time need more of a goal scoring threat.
on the 18th June, 2014 at 9:08pm
What a rubbish article. Why should CP worry about Costa Rica. Italy have enough talent are good enough to play their on game. Im not going to under estimate CR but to worry about them I think not. CP will play his strongest fit side to win. Against England Gli Azzurri raised gear when they required. Italia keep the ball well when required. As for resting Pirlo. He looked well fresh at the end of the match and as he does very little running keep him going. Old men stiffing up if they stop.
on the 18th June, 2014 at 7:59pm
Paletta instead of Ogbonna ?? Prandelli broke down to the Serie A preasure of bringing too many Juve boys in the back,now we must read about how weak/slow and uproven paletta is, Im a juve supporter but I will always admit to who is a stronger player for the sake of Italy, it hurts to know we have a beast that is young and can run sitting AT HOME for this nobody paletta, I will hope for the best, this selection by Prandelli is a mistake PERIOD! PALETTA WEAKENS US FOR NOTHING
on the 18th June, 2014 at 6:27pm

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