Group D’s second round of matches draws to a close with this encounter, between the two leaders. Before last night, you might have suggested that Italy – who saw off a talented England side in their first game – would very much have the edge against Costa Rica – who rallied to beat a very sub-par Uruguay. But now, who knows? Maybe it’s Italy who should be entering into this game feeling all the trepidation. The only other possibility is that Uruguay were rotten in their first match and much better in the second while England did it in reverse. Which hardly seems likely.

In all seriousness, this is a game which Italy should win. Indeed, they need to, unless they want to risk a thoroughly uncomfortable final round of games: not even a victory today would guarantee them passage to the last 16. They were thoroughly impressive in their opener and boast a number of very exciting young talents. Mario Balotelli we know all too well, but they’ve yet to fully unleash the diminutive pair of 21-year old attackers Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti. All of that and world football’s most stylish, effortlessly efficient and handsomely bearded deep-lying playmaker, Andrea Pirlo.

Costa Rica’s win against Uruguay was rather more unexpected but genuinely welcome. The Central American team managed to transcend the level of “plucky upstarts” by mid-way through the second half. By the end of the game they looked like a team as likely to qualify as any of the others in their group. They lack the strength of the Italian squad, let alone the strength in depth. However, the tropical climate in Brazil is likely to be more to their taste than to the Italians’ and, combined with the same spirit we saw last Saturday, a bit of belief and another good game from Joel Campbell – filling the breach after their top scorer Alvaro Saborio was injured just weeks before the tournament began – then who knows?

What is clear is that England will be eliminated immediately should the match finish in a draw.

Richard Grinham and Ted “Vorderman” Carter will guide you through the intricacies of this one.

Richard Tweets

Twohundredpercent Toots

Ted Twerks

Mark June 20, 20147:03 pm

“Costa Rica ain’t gonna win the tournament,” declares Hansen. Mind you…my prediction record has been worse than EVERYone’s.

Mark June 20, 20146:56 pm

And Lineker’s changed his shirt. To a blackshirt. One fashion adviser in the wrong job.

Ted June 20, 20146:54 pm

Full time: Costa Rica 1-0 Italy. The Italians were appalling but let’s take nothing away from Costa Rica, who for the second game in a row get it absolutely right. They’ve been excellent.

Mark June 20, 20146:53 pm

I believe the phrase rhymes with “clucking bell.”

Mark June 20, 20146:49 pm

And that’s England out. Now can Costa Rica hold on.

Ted June 20, 20146:49 pm

Cesare Prandelli has a look of Kenneth Connor about him.

Mark June 20, 20146:47 pm

“Come on, lets have something to talk about,” says Savage. Which needs no further comment. (“Hooray!” they shout/type)

Ted June 20, 20146:46 pm

Italy are offside once again, in spite of Costa Rica’s offside trap being one bloke.

Mark June 20, 20146:44 pm

BBC commentators have completely written off Italy. Unwise?

Ted June 20, 20146:44 pm

Or, to put it another way, they’ve been horseshit.

Ted June 20, 20146:44 pm

Time and time again today, Costa Rica have broken free with just one man and nearly made Italy pay. It’s a spellbindingly lackadaisical performance from the Europeans.

Mark June 20, 20146:29 pm

And on comes Alessio Cerci, who had to take his VEST off to get ready for his appearance. My self-esteem has gone up a notch.

Ted June 20, 20146:29 pm

Mario Balotelli is getting frustrated and losing his discipline. This is good news for fans of comedy everywhere.

Mark June 20, 20146:27 pm

That’s the Inzaghi who has just become Milan manager. Assistants will want extra money for games in the Giuseppe Meazza next season.

Ted June 20, 20146:26 pm

Italy have been caught offside so many times today that it is reminding me of the good old days, when Fillipo Inzaghi was in his pomp.

Ted June 20, 20146:19 pm

I am entertaining myself imagining the kind of bull-necked, UKIP-voting England fan that advertising during World Cup years is aimed at, angrily supporting Italy and getting increasingly exasperated and racist. It is delighting me, to try and imagine their pain.

Rob June 20, 20146:18 pm

Costa Rica are still pressing though, but need to support Campbell up front more.

Ted June 20, 20146:13 pm

Italy brought Cassano on at half time and are starting to exert some pressure. Pirlo had their best chance so far, with a free kick that was punched away by the goalkeeper.

Rob June 20, 20146:11 pm

Robbie Savage is pronouncing Buffon as “Bouffant” isn’t he? He’s even emphasised the T at the end a few times.

Ted June 20, 20146:07 pm

Not a vintage performance by Pirlo today. He looks like a middle-aged man trying to play football in 30 degree heat and tropical humidity, in Brazil, at lunchtime.

Ted June 20, 20146:05 pm

Anyway, enough of that. It’s Half Number Two!

Ted June 20, 20146:04 pm

The original artwork of that cartoon is signed by Clive Tyldesley, which probably makes it marginally more/less valuable.

Ted June 20, 20146:01 pm

Of course, if you’re a drooling maniac who only watches the World Cup for England (if so, why the HELL are you HERE?), this result as it stands spells total doom. But never mind, ITV always find a way.
http://twohundredpercent.net/?p=7957

Ted June 20, 20145:50 pm

And that’s half time. Costa Rica lead 1-0 against Italy, who have been at best sluggish and at worst completely abject. We have also discovered that the Queen is 88 years old, that you can say she’s hot if she speaks to you first, and that Ian has a serious Italian National Anthem earworm. I’m off to get away from the punditry before they start talking about England.

Rob June 20, 20145:48 pm

And yet, the penalty doesn’t matter any more. Diaz chucks in another floater, and Bryan Ruiz heads in off the crossbar. Costa Rica 1 Italy 0.

Ted June 20, 20145:47 pm

GOAL! GOAL! Costa Rica 1-0 Italy. Bryan Ruiz scores a neat header from a left wing cross from Pinto. Costa Rica thoroughly deserve it, especially after the Penalty That Never Was. This Costa Rica team look thoroughly decent.

Ted June 20, 20145:45 pm

Joel Campbell is barrelled over in the box, having done incredibly well up front on his own. Absolute stonewall penalty, and as such, not given. Much to Robbie Savage’s ire and hence my amusement.

Ted June 20, 20145:43 pm

Query: is it acceptable under Royal Protocol to say that the Queen is hot? Answer: probably, as long as she speaks to you first.

Ted June 20, 20145:41 pm

The fact is, when I was born, the Queen was only 53 (and 51 weeks). When you were born, Ian, the Queen would have been 46. Probably still hot.

Ted June 20, 20145:39 pm

88 being a number often associated with Gigi Buffon

Ted June 20, 20145:39 pm

Then again, I think I’d rather be stuck in a lift with the other one.

Ian June 20, 20145:38 pm

The Queen is 88, now.

88!

Ted June 20, 20145:38 pm

Full disclosure: I think that there are two great grandee goalkeepers in European football. One of them is massively overrated. The other one is Gigi Buffon.

Ted June 20, 20145:35 pm

Balotelli has decided, what the hell, I’m in my full kit, I might as well play football. As such he lashes a good volley at the goalkeeper, who almost spills it. He can almost smell the Queen’s talcum powder.

Ted June 20, 20145:33 pm

The Italian national anthem

Rob June 20, 20145:31 pm

I’ve watched the first 30 minutes so far, but couldn’t tell you a single thing that’s happened.

Ian June 20, 20145:30 pm

I can’t watch Italy play without their national anthem getting stuck in my head on a loop.

My understanding is that Mario Ballotelli has to have it off with the Queen if Italy win this.

Ted June 20, 20145:28 pm

Crapenaccio.

Ted June 20, 20145:28 pm

This is such a relentlessly Italian performance. One day the Azzurri will come out and play expressive, exciting football. Not today, they won’t.

This match is drifting by like a quiet mountain stream with tapir turds.

Ian June 20, 20145:27 pm

You here on your own? Never mind, I’ll keep you company.

Anything interesting happened yet?

Ted June 20, 20145:23 pm

COSTA RICA FACT: Costa Rica are one of only 15 countries in the world to have absolutely no military forces.

Ted June 20, 20145:17 pm

The game, by the way, has got off to a very sluggish start. As if the two teams have met up beforehand and agreed to play out a 0-0 draw just to piss off Nigel Farage. And who could blame them?

Ted June 20, 20145:14 pm

Italy are best defined by its most famous ever man

Mark June 20, 20145:11 pm

Robbie Savage…cleaning woman…grrrrrrrrrrrrr (one for Steve Martin fans, there). I promise I shall say no more…

Ted June 20, 20145:08 pm

We are blessed that Robbie Savage is our BBC co-commentator today. Dwell on that, anyone reading this not watching the UK feed. Mind you, football blog and podcasting grandee Chris Oakley of http://thefootballattic.blogspot.co.uk/ lives in New Zealand and has been reporting on Twitter that over the other side of the world their commentator is Peter Drury. Which makes the Robbie Savage sound like Peter Ustinov.

Ted June 20, 20145:01 pm

THE MATCH KICKS OFF. Still 0-0.

Ted June 20, 20145:00 pm

It’s one of the top national anthems. I’d put it joint second with Brazil. Obviously, no-one can top France.

Mark June 20, 20144:58 pm

Italian national anthem’s a belter, isn’t it? Both “tunes.” We were joining in at Craven Cottage the other week and there was one guy headbanging along to it.

Ted June 20, 20144:55 pm

GREETINGS, SOCCER FANS