Italy vs. Costa Rica: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group D Match

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 20, 2014

MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 14:  Claudio Marchisio of Italy (L) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Daniele De Rossi during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 14, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

Italy continue their quest to finish first in Group D by taking on Costa Rica, whose upset victory over Uruguay sent shockwaves through the tournament.



Italy scraped through their opener with England, finding the going significantly tougher than it was at UEFA Euro 2012. A win is a win, though, and they'll be targeting a second one here to move into pole position for qualification.

It remains unclear what sort of formation and XI Cesare Prandelli is set to send out given the pliability of their squad and the flexibility of the coach, but playing the same 4-3-3 that beat England would not be a bad shout.

Possible Italy XI. Buffon/Sirigu, Verratti/Motta, Bonucci/De Sciglio.
Possible Italy XI. Buffon/Sirigu, Verratti/Motta, Bonucci/De Sciglio.@stighefootball

If Mattia De Sciglio, is fit he'll play on the left and push Giorgio Chiellini central; Gianluigi Buffon appears 50/50 and may sit out due to Salvatore Sirigu's promising outing between the sticks against the Three Lions.

Central-midfield strength will be the key to victory here.


Costa Rica

In their first game, Costa Rica caused the shock the tournament so far, defeating a Uruguay side stacked with talent 3-1.

Their defensive, stubborn mantra was revered throughout the qualification process, and they only relented against La Celeste from the penalty spot. As much as Uruguay's movement and precision was poor, lavish praise should be directed the way of Pinto and his men for their solidity and organisation.


Such was the success of the system and personnel, it's highly unlikely any changes will be made ahead of the Italy game. Per Eddie Mendez of Sports World News, Pinto could opt to replace Yeltsin Tejeda with Jose Miguel Cubero.

The Ticos had less of the ball than Uruguay, per, but made their possession count. They'll need to be just as efficient against Italy, but the task seems much, much harder.


2 Tactical Clashes

1. Between the Lines

Joel Campbell was devastating between the lines against Uruguay, taking advantage of the two banks of four to slip into space and receive passes.

He helped drag Costa Rica up the pitch this way and create attacks, embarking on mazy dribbles or spraying the ball out wide to the Ticos' impressive Cristian Gamboa.

Against Italy that won't be so clear-cut, as the Azzurri are likely to play three central midfielders and drop Daniele De Rossi into the zone Campbell operates. If he's nullified—and on paper it's a no-contest—Pinto's men may be in trouble.


2. Attacking Movement

It's easy to praise Costa Rica for their defensive effort against Uruguay, and while we're not in the business of taking away from their magnificent achievement, La Celeste were drab on the ball and even worse off it.

Costa Rica's mammoth 41 clearances vs. Uruguay.
Costa Rica's mammoth 41 clearances vs. Uruguay.via

Antonio Candreva and Claudio Marchisio found acres of space between England's full-backs and central midfielders, and the movement of their own full-backs running in behind was superb.

They will stretch this Ticos' defensive line, pull it apart and create chances for Mario Balotelli. They'll be far more aggressive than La Celeste were, so this will be the true test of their defensive nous.


Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.