Costa Rica pulled off the biggest surprise in the World Cup so far, beating 2010 semifinalist Uruguay 3-1 in their group opener.
While Uruguay are believers, neither oddsmakers nor bettors seem to believe the Central Americans can pull off another shocker against Italy Friday.
Sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com had Italy with World Cup betting odds of 1-2 with Costa Rica at 11-2 and a draw line of 3-1.
These squads have only met one time in a 1994 friendly, which Italy won 1-0. Costa Rica, meanwhile, have never won consecutive matches at the World Cup.
Costa Rica demonstrated surprisingly good defense in the win over Uruguay and will need to key on Mario Balotelli, who scored the game winner in the England match, in this game.
Costa Rica’s big gun is Joel Campbell, who scored in the Uruguay match and also registered an assist.
One key for the Central American squad is midfield play. They beat a Uruguay team that does not have great midfield play, which is not the case when facing the Italians.
Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi are two great midfielders who are masters of the passing game and the Costa Rica squad has to keep the Azzurri from dominating possession.
The Costa Rica defense has a lot of pressure on them in this match, facing an Italian squad that has scored in 15 straight World Cup group-stage matches.
The Italians also boast a solid defense, though England wasted numerous scoring chances when the teams met on Saturday. However, unlike Costa Rica, England has a very strong midfield.
Costa Rica will have to rely on the counter-attack to score. Italy probably won’t be in the mood to be a second upset victim and will play a conservative game to limit Costa Rica’s openings.
It makes another Costa Rica win a much bigger task than their first. They have also lost the element of surprise and Italy will be ready.
The Azzurri have too much talent for Costa Rica to deal with and, more importantly, they have a much better midfield. The match will not be a blowout, but Italy will win and advance to the round of 16.
Italy vs. Costa Rica prediction: 2-0 Italy
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