Football

Italy wary of Costa Rica, not the heat

Prandelli says surprise packages Costa Rica, and 
not the hot conditions, are their biggest threat

GROUP D

ITALY v COSTA RICA

(Tonight, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)

Cesare Prandelli said Italy will not use the heat and humidity of Recife as an excuse if they slip up against Costa Rica in their Group D match tonight.

Costa Rica are expected to come out all guns blazing at the Arena Pernambuco in north-east Brazil, in a bid to make life tough for the four-time champions.

But Italy coach Prandelli, whose players spent time in a sauna during intensive pre-World Cup workouts at their training base in Florence, said Italy are ready for the central Americans.

"We've known for a long time that we were going to be playing Costa Rica in these kind of conditions. We've adapted accordingly, so tomorrow, we will have no excuses," he said.

"We're not afraid of the heat. The only thing we should be afraid of are our opponents."

While Italy opened their campaign with a precious 2-1 win over England, Costa Rica caused one of the biggest upsets of the opening matches with a 3-1 comeback win over Uruguay.

The "Ticos" sit atop the group, ahead of Italy on goal difference, and will be looking to use their familiarity with playing in the hot and humid conditions to their advantage.

Costa Rica midfielder Christian Bolanos said: "We have a lot of respect for them (Italy)... but we'll hope to benefit from the heavy climate. We are used to playing in those kinds of temperatures."

But, striker Mario Balotelli, who headed the winning goal against England in steamy-hot Manaus, watched Costa Rica stun Uruguay and said: "They're a very good team and we'll show them the respect they deserve by going out and giving everything we can."

Prandelli added: "They have a good system (of play) that they are all familiar with and, on an individual level, they have some quality players.

"They are organised like a European team and play like South Americans. They like to play deep and have players who are not afraid to go one-on-one.

"We won't underestimate them. They are a very complete side, and we will prepare to change tactics during the match if the situation calls for it."

While set to reshuffle his defence, Prandelli indicated Gianluigi Buffon, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered on the eve of the game against England, could replace Salvatore Sirigu if he comes through training and physiotherapy unhindered yesterday.

"Gigi has trained very well over the past three days. He still has a little swelling but we will have to see how he reacts to physiotherapy later today," added Prandelli.

"If he comes through training well, he will be there." - AFP.


We’ve known for a long time that we were going to play Costa Rica in these kind of conditions. We’ve adapted accordingly, so tomorrow, we will have no excuses.

- Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, on the weather conditions

World Cup