Italy

Costa Rica

Play by play

Second, COSTA F#@%ING RICA BEAT ITALY!!!

There are two important take-aways from this result. First, England is done.

FT: Costa Rica 1-0 Italy. Los Ticos are a team of destiny. You say they can’t and they do. First Uruguay. Now Italy. This was improbable, but Costa Rica has been hands-down the best team in this group. They’re far from complete, but seem to have a cohesive group. I mean…

REWIND: A sniper–NOT AN ITALIAN– takes down a Tico. No foul.

BRENES CURLS A SHOT JUST BY THE POST!!! Buffon might have had it covered, but we’ll never know. I wish we had a parallel universe so we could know these things. It’s going to eat at me.

Beautiful interplay by Los Ticos at the top of the box, but once again the referee keeps his whistle in his fancy whistle holster. 

CERCI BENDS IN A CORNER…and Cassano falls backward and touches the ball out for a goal-kick. 

Cerci is free in the box, but is whistled for offside. He shoots the ball off Gonzalez’ face for good measure.

Los Ticos can smell victory. And their fans can, too.

So much for giving Costa Rica fans the wrong address.

Costa Rica takes off captain Bryan Ruiz and will play a 5-4-1 for the remainder. I hope that doesn’t excite you. 

Just over 10 minutes plus stoppage time to go and reality is starting to set in for Italian fans everywhere.

JOEL CAMPBELL IS SUBBED OFF!!! EXPRESS OUTRAGE WHEREVER YOU CAN!!! The kid was good today, earning a wrongfully-denied penalty and keeping the Italian defense on its toes. But he wasn’t quite as devastating as he was against Uruguay. Still, probably the frontrunner for best young player.

Cubero gets grabby, too. Not with the neck, but in another disfavored manner.

BIG REWINDCosta Rica don’t get a penalty OR orchestra conductor? You decide.

Balotelli yanks on a guy’s neck. That’s not allowed.

Tejeda comes off for Costa Rica. Let’s continue to emphasize the unlikelihood the current situation.

With Costa Rica currently set to win the group, let’s look back at my World Cup Cocktails preview…

Balotelli hacks down another Tico. Remember that prediction? Unless, Italy takes the lead, Balotelli gets sent off. You’ve been warned twice.

Junior Diaz gets tackled from behind by Marchisio. No card. An eager physio ran to the touchline like a Wimbledon ballboy, but never got waved on. Probably the worst moment of his life.

Happy? Sad? Angry? Confused? All of the above? Welcome to Italian fans.

Turn away, Old Spice, cuz Bolaños just made your swagger look swanky. The Tico made two Italians look foolish in the corner. Nothing came from it, unless you count shame. I do. 

So, if Balotelli doesn’t score…

Pirlo strikes the free-kick well, but Navas is up to the task, pushing it wide. If that free-kick were a wine, I’d say it was fruit-forward, with decent body and acidity, but no real finish.

Italy are allowed space on two occasions, but can’t get the ball on goal. Costa Rica is sitting deeper at the moment. Italy have a free-kick after another horrible call. #ConspiracyTalk 

REWIND: Balotelli wanted a penalty for this. Mario really over-sold it.

REWIND: Ah yes, the circle. What would Robert Langdon say about this? I think it’s Costa Rica discussing how to prevail in the face of corruption. 

Mercifully, the second half has begun. Thank the ref and FIFA for saving you from further #ConspiracyTalk.

Berlusconi plotting how to get rid of Joel Campbell. #ConspiracyTalk

For some fascinating insights into Italian justice, read the Monster of Florence. It’s got the murderer that inspired Hannibal Lecter. LOVE THIS BOOK. But…let’s do more #ConspiracyTalk.

Does this man have something to do with that missed penalty call? Probably.

HT: Costa Rica 1-0 Italy. I’m conflicted about the first half. I wanted Italy to show that strength and brilliance that overcame England. Aside from that perfect Pirlo ball that Balotelli mis-chipped, Italy had few ideas. In fact, every chance I can remember was a long-ball to Balotelli. On the other side, Costa Rica was positive throughout the half. Joel Campbell, fresh off his break-out performance against England, the Gunner earned a penalty. No one on Twitter or the television has disagreed. And, while justice was seemingly served a minute later, one cannot ignore the mistake. And so let’s spend halftime talking about justice. Italian style justice.

REWIND: Ruiz gives Los Ticos the lead.

Costa Rica 1-0 Italy. JUSTICE. You’ve heard of it. It’s not a fixture in soccer, especially swift justice. Moments after being denied a clear penalty, Diaz sends a cross to the back corner and Bryan Ruiz heads it off the underside of the crossbar and inches over the goal-line. Derek Rae says we didn’t really need goal-line technology for that one, but I don’t know how you say that moments after the missed penalty and considering refs have missed more obvious goals in the past. Seems to me that such technology is made for goals in which the ball goes in and comes out, just like that one.

MADNESS!!! JOEL CAMPBELL CUTS INTO THE ITALY BOX AND IS CLEARLY TAKEN DOWN, BUT THE REFEREE LET’S IT GO. THAT’S A PENALTY 10 DAYS A WEEK. TWITTER AGREES. THUS, IT MUST BE TRUE.

REWIND: Balotelli’s second chance.

Mario Balotelli is furious with the referee and he shouldn’t be. He shielded a Costa Rican player and lost possession, but felt he was fouled. That might’ve been the case, but it certainly didn’t warrant his reaction. Does this bode ill for the temperamental striker? I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist. But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say he gets sent off, unless Italy gets the lead.

Míchael Umaña disposses Candreva and feeds Cristian Bolaños. He bends a low, hard shot to Buffon’s left, but the Italian captain is up to the challenge.

REWIND: Tejeda with a strong challenge on Balotelli.

Another chance for Balotelli! This time the striker blasts a shot at Navas, who spills the save, but recovers in time. Dare I say, the Italians are waking up. PLEASE WAKE UP, ITALIANS!!!

Balotelli is okay. How do I know? Pirlo first-times a gorgeous ball over the top that Mario races onto. His first touch is excellent and he chips Navas! But he chips well wide. That’s a bad miss and he knows it.

Costa Rica threatens, but can’t create enough space for a shot. Balotelli tracks back, but is strongly dispossessed by Tejeda. Mario is down for a moment and play resumes. Given that there is no action, here’s a supplement.

Another long-ball to Balotelli, who holds off Gonzalez. The ball falls for Motta, but he shoots well wide. If only there were a “shots on the ad-boards” statistic…

Mario Balotelli wants to score, but he’s the only one. There is no logic in the build-up for Italy. Actually, there is no build-up. It’s just passing around at the back for several minutes followed by a long-ball forward. Their last two attempts have resulted in an offside and a foul. It wasn’t supposed to be like this…

Elsewhere in Group D, England aren’t dead yet, but they are on life support. Which is how you get here.

It’s as if Italy wants Costa Rica to be in their box. Not like that, sicko. They continue to languish in their own end.

If, for some reason, you get bored of watching Pirlo play football, you can watch him play American football for Stanford. Seriously.

The fans whistle at the Azzurri as they pass the ball around the back, inexplicably gifting a corner to Costa Rica. The Italians look a bit confused at the moment.

These teams have been evenly matched in the first 12 minutes. Half-chances on both ends, but the narrative is still developing. It’s a lot like Costa Rica, come to think of it…

REWIND: A yellow-card-worthy foul by Duarte that didn’t result in yellow.

An in-swinging corner-kick from Los Ticos. Borges gets on the end of it, but can’ t keep it down.

Duarte pulls down Marchisio on a counterattack, but somehow avoids yellow. Restraint can be a good thing in the early minutes of a match. That’s a difficult one to overlook. 

Costa Rica enjoys some possession, which the Italians allow. A balloon rolls around the pitch. No one seems alarmed.

The teams are just getting settled, but Mario Balotelli is focused on his reward.

The whistle blows and we’re off at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife! This is what it looks like without fans.

And for Italy, let’s listen to an Italian favorite from The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is not an Italian movie.

As you know, we’re averse to national anthems because they rarely reflect a country’s musical culture. I’ve often found the best introduction is often found on the streets. So let’s hit the streets of San Jose for Los Ticos.

A rumor is spreading that people like to know who’s playing in a match. I do, too. Look, we’ve got something in common already! #BuildingBridges

Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto is bullish on today’s match, saying his team is capable of dispatching the Italians. Considering the form of Arsenal youngster, Joel Campbell, it’s hard to fault his confidence. Let’s take a look at Los Ticos.

Yes, Uruguay was without their little magician, Luis Suarez, but the Ticos comprehensively destroyed a team that finished fourth in the last World Cup. And that is why this man felt this way. Seriously, there’s no way his life gets better.

In their opening match against England, Costa Rica fully earned this graphic.

Despite being exposed in the Euro 2012 final, where Spain’s tika taka split them into a thousand strands of nothingness, Italy’s squad has remained largely the same. It got the job done against a seemingly revitalized England squad. While Sirigu was an adequate stand-in, Italy will be lifted today by the return of legend Gigi Buffon. Here are three other things that the amazing Buffon has lifted: (1) a Fiat 500, (2) a Nebuchadnezzar of Casanova di Neri 1999 Cerretalto Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello di Montalcino), and (3) a bicycle being ridden by Marco Pantani. And here are some actual facts about the Azzurri…

If I would have told you Costa Rica would top Group D after Uruguay and England had played two matches, you would have called Fusion and advised them to intervene. You would have been right to do so. Costa Rica is ahead on goal differential and could effectively seal their progress today with a win against Italy.  However, the Italians won’t let Los Ticos play the type of free-flowing that cracked England wide open. It’s just not in their DNA. Cesare Prandelli won’t let that happen. Andrea Pirlo’s beard won’t let that happen.