World Cup pre-game: Italy vs. Costa Rica

After winning their opening matches, Italy and Costa Rica are both eyeing spots in the knockout round as they meet Friday in Group D action at the FIFA World Cup (CBC,, 11:30 a.m. ET).

Both teams won opening match

Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who notched a goal in the opener against England, is expected to be in the starting lineup on Friday. (Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Group D: Italy vs. Costa Rica 

  • 12 p.m. ET, Friday, June 20
  • CBC TV,

What’s at stake

Each team wants to lock up Group D — or at least secure second spot.

With Costa Rica handily beating Uruguay, the Central Americans have a good shot at going through. Same with Italy. But the Group stage is far from over.

Costa Rica has a one-goal scoring lead over Italy in this World Cup.

Impact players

Italy: Mario Balotelli. That header against England was majestic. He’s a huge presence for the Azzurri, and one to always watch.

Costa Rica: Joel Campbell. This young forward can score. He can inspire. And his ball-under-the-jersey goal celebration was an instant YouTube classic.

What to watch for

Italian keeper Buffon is recovering from injury and may be a game-time decision against Costa Rica. If he's back in, that will firm up an already strong back line for Italy, which is bad news for CostaRica.

Costa Rica scored all three of their goals against Uruguay in the second half, with their last goal coming in the 84th minute. So they have plenty of energy in their legs for the entire game.

Italy beat Costa Rica 1:0 in 1994 in their only previous head-to-head match

They said it

"Italy suffer. They always suffer but the important thing is to win.” —​ Balotelli to reporters after Italy beat England.

“What counted is that we stayed calm and kept creating opportunities against a very tough team.” — Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said to reporters after beating Uruguay.

The Big Number

93.2 per cent — Italy's passing accuracy against England is the highest ever recorded in a World Cup game since 1966.

Obligatory fun fact

Andrea Pirlo completed a game-high 65 of his 69 passes in the first half against England.


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