Costa Rica represents the CONCACAF region today in World Cup play as they fight Italy for dominance in Group D. Both teams won their first game and another three points would tie up advancement. The prospects for today’s loser would be difficult, as they’d be tied with a surging Uruguayan team that knocked proud England out of Brazil.
As Americans, we talk a lot about Group G being the “Group of Death” but Group D could argue for that title. Italy, England and Uruguay are all former champions and capable of a deep run. Costa Rica is a strong team despite a lack of history or pedigree, as evidenced by their 3-1 thrashing of Uruguay and strong CONCACAF qualification campaign. The Ticos finished only four points behind the United States and “beat” the USA 3-2 on aggregate in the hexagonal qualification (a 3-1 Ticos result away and a 1-nil Yanks victory at home). The casual fan may not expect much from the small country, but Costa Rica is more than capable of handling the Azzurri.
Bold Prediction: This World Cup has been bananas. Normally I go with the chalk in the Cup, but there’s been too many upsets. Italy wants to bunker and counter, but Costa Rica will push. Costa Rica forces Italy out of their comfort zone in a game that gets sloppy and open at the end: 3-2 Ticos! CONCACAF ‘Til I Die!!