Lethargic Italy Put World Cup Place At Risk After Deserved Defeat To Costa Rica

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Prandelli urges against panic after shock defeat to Group D rivals…

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After their opening game win against England, Italy were unable to produce a repeat performance in their second outing as their loss to Costa Rica sets up a crunch clash with Uruguay.

The Azzurri can still afford a draw in order to progress, but given the sluggish and slow display in Recife on Friday, there is significant concern over whether or not they will have the energy and focus required to deal with the threat posed by the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

Cesare Prandelli conceded that his team were too slow and took the wrong approach in the game, but it appears as though there is still confidence within the group that they can produce when it matters as the pressure is undoubtedly on ahead of Tuesday’s clash.

However, the display against the Costa Ricans was in stark contrast to that against England, with the Italians suffering in the conditions and as a result were lethargic in their approach both on and off the ball.

With a visible lack of movement and creativity in midfield, Italy’s play became predictable and their inability to speed up the tempo of their passing ultimately played into the hands of their opponents who pressed high up throughout the game and were able to counter attack with great regularity.

While many had written off Costa Rica prior to the tournament, Prandelli was keen to stress that he had warned the media months ago that they are a well organised team that can cause numerous problems, something Uruguay can agree with and perhaps England will realise in the coming days.

Yet with a history of struggling in the second game of the World Cup group stage, the Azzurri were unable to avoid repeating their previous woes, and changes will likely follow.

Milan full-back Ignazio Abate struggled to influence the game from an offensive perspective and struggled to recover defensively, and it may well result in club team-mate Mattia De Sciglio replacing him provided that he has fully recovered from his injury.

Meanwhile, the same could be said of Marco Verratti who should be brought back in to help to dictate the game and win the midfield battle, while more will be expected of Antonio Candreva after a reserved performance last time out.

Perhaps one of the biggest criticisms of Prandelli was that with his side requiring a goal, he failed to turn to Serie A capocannoniere Ciro Immobile, and coupled with Mario Balotelli’s generally disappointing performance, he perhaps showed too much faith in the Rossoneri striker.

Nevertheless, Italy traditionally respond when the pressure is on, and while they shouldn’t be panicking just yet, they have a job to do against a South American outfit that will be difficult to overcome if they want to progress.

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