Italians do their homework

The Northern Echo: FAST FEET: Mario Balotelli in training ahead of this evening’s game FAST FEET: Mario Balotelli in training ahead of this evening’s game

THERE are not supposed to be any easy games at the World Cup and Italy are certainly not expecting one against Costa Rica today.

The Azzurri say they have been paying close attention to the Central Americans and have reviewed plenty of recordings of their opponents since being drawn to face them in Group D.

Costa Rica’s 3-1 triumph over Uruguay in their opening game in Brazil should have sharpened the Italians’ focus even more.

Cesare Prandelli’s side will know if they have done their homework properly as the teams meet at the Arena Pernanbuco in Recife.

“For months we’ve known about the calendar,” Prandelli.

“We have followed with particular interest this team.

“They are very well organised and know their style by heart and their own system of play.

“It’s a team to fear a lot and for us it’s going to be a rather difficult game.”

If Italy are going to have success again after their 2-1 victory over England in their opener, they will have pay close attention to the attacking play of their opponents.

Jorge Luis Pinto’s team tore Uruguay apart in the second half.

“Costa Rica have three players up front that are very strong, so we have to be worried,” Prandelli said.

It remains to be seen which players are in the Italy lineup.

Prandelli had to do without captain Gianluigi Buffon in the first game while firstchoice left-back Mattia De Sciglio also missed the England game due to a muscular injury.

The player who scored Italy’s second and decisive goal against England, Mario Balotelli, is eager to play again.

There were many to wonder if he would make Italy’s World Cup squad because of his lack of form late in the Serie A season with AC Milan but Prandelli took him to Brazil, with Balotelli rewarding his coach for the faith he showed with a goal.

He was also named the man of the match after the 2-1 win.

Balotelli said: “Costa Rica are a very good side and we must respect them, trying to give 200 per cent on the pitch.

“I’m calm, I have no pressure.

I want to go as far as possible in this World Cup and score as many goals as possible but the important thing is that Italy wins and progresses.”

  • Belgium captain Vincent Kompany has suffered an injury setback three days out from their World Cup game with Russia.

The Manchester City defender missed training with a “slight groin strain”, Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said.

  • Cameroon coach Volker Finke has called his team’s performance at the World Cup “disgraceful” following their 4-0 defeat to Croatia.

Wednesday’s Group A result in Manaus knocked the Indomitable Lions out of the competition.

Barcelona midfielder Alexandre Song was sent off five minutes before the break for an elbow on Mario Mandzukic with his team trailing 1-0 and Croatia punished Cameroon with three goals after the interval.

To make matters worse, late in the game, a fight broke out between Cameroon teammates Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo.

“Some players behaved very badly, and that’s why we have conceded four goals,” Finke said. “I know that it is difficult to play with ten men, but that is not a reason to lose it to this point.

“The behaviour of some of the players is really not satisfactory. Even when we were 11-a-side, it was not acceptable.”

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