I didn’t expect this game to be of any interest, but in light of the Uruguay-England result, Costa Rica should probably be taken more seriously than I’d assumed. That being said, it’s a lot easier to penetrate the Uruguay defense than the famous catenaccio, even if it’s no longer being anchored by Maldini and Cannavaro. So, I still expect a fairly routine 3-1 Italian victory, but it should be one that is on the entertaining side of routine.
In any event, the prosecco is flowing and the match is on. Avanti Azzurri!
France v Switzerland is the match I’m really anticipating. The French looked much stronger than I’d anticipated, as Pogba is a fearsome midfielder in the mode of a more aggressive Patrick Viera and Griezeman is a classic fox-in-the box, albeit with speed. Prior to the tournament, I would have bet on the Swiss, but so far, they appear to be more lucky than good. I think a draw would be a good result for the Swiss, but then, the French are young, so it’s entirely possible that they’ll end up imploding.
FIRST HALF: Italy is completely controlling the ball but it’s going to be hard for them to win if they leave Balotelli up front. His head is clearly not in the game and he’s blown two very good chances. Costa Rica is robbed of a penalty, but grabs one before the half when Chiellini gets lazy. 1-0 Costa Rica.
SECOND HALF: Ugh. As Ender said, Italy looked lazy, clumsy, and slow. One would almost suspect they were content to lose in order to knock England out. They’ll have to do better against Uruguay or they’ll be coming home too.
UPDATE: As for the France-Switzerland game, the Swiss haven’t been trounced so roundly since the days of the Napoleonic invasion. It’s 3-0 at halftime and should be 4-0 considering the missed penalty and the follow-up shot that hit the crossbar. That’s more goals than the Swiss gave up in the previous eight games.