Jun 20, 2014 at 5pm UK at ​Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Italy
0-1
Costa Rica

Balotelli (69')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Ruiz (44')
Cubero (71')

Preview: Italy vs. Costa Rica

Italy's forward Mario Balotelli celebrates with teammates after scoring during a Group D football match between England and Italy at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole looks ahead to the World Cup group encounter between Italy and Costa Rica.

Costa Rica, viewed by some pre-tournament as the whipping boys of Group D, sprung a major upset in their first encounter when they recorded a 3-1 win over Uruguay in Fortaleza on Saturday evening.

Now with four-time champions Italy in their sights, Jorge Luis Pinto's men can all but secure their place in the last 16 of the competition with a game to spare courtesy of a victory over their European counterparts in Recife on Friday.

The Azzurri, though, will also be full of confidence for this encounter, having disposed of England at the weekend with a 2-1 win in the heat and humidity of Manaus.

What's more, head coach Cesare Prandelli will have been boosted by the return to training of goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon. The 36-year-old missed the clash with England because of an ankle complaint, but could return against the Costa Ricans.

Full-back Mattia De Sciglio is also thought to be nearing a return to action, but the match may come too soon for the AC Milan defender.

As for Costa Rica, Pinto has been tipped to pick the same side that started against Uruguay, which will mean that Arsenal's Joel Campbell will operate as a lone centre-forward once again.

These two nations have met only once before back in 1994, with the Italians running out 1-0 victors thanks to a goal from Lazio centre-forward Giuseppe Signori.

Recent form

Italy: DLDDWW

Costa Rica: LLWLDW

Possible starting lineups

Italy: Buffon; Chiellini, Barzagli, Paletta, Darmian; De Rossi, Verratti, Pirlo, Marchisio, Candreva; Balotelli

Costa Rica: Navas; Gonzalez, Umana, Duarte, Gamboa; Bolanos, Diaz, Tejeda, Borges; Ruiz; Campbell

Sports Mole says: 2-0

Costa Rica's Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto celebrates after Costa Rica's forward Joel Campbell (not seen) scored his team's first goal during a Group D football match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza during the 2014 F
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