The loss exposed a few issues for Cesare Prandelli’s team. One was that Italy seemed slow and tired. Playing in Manaus against the British was draining. It showed on Friday as the team looked slow against their opponents. Los Ticos also executed a high-line of defense against Italy that forced numerous offside calls against the Azzurri. Those two things, a goal and a successful pressuring of Andrea Pirlo were the main factors in the loss.
The loss will help, partly because later on in the tournament teams will try to emulate Costa Rica. They’ll copy their containment tactics with Pirlo. They might try that high-line. Regardless, Prandelli and his team will be ready for those tactics. Even in defeat you could see the Italians, Pirlo especially, trying to beat the high-line with long balls. It only takes a little more discipline for the attacking players to stay on side and wait a second or two more. If this can happen, Italy will easily crack the high-line puzzle.
Tactically, this loss will help the team in later rounds. The loss will lessen the limelight and attention given to the European powerhouse. Generally Italy thrives in the underdog/unheralded role. Now they own that title in spades.
Another reason the team shouldn’t panic is because they still have a game left. Not a meaningless contest like it will be for England versus los Ticos, but a game that should Italy draw or win against Uruguay, will get the team through to the knockout stages.
Uruguay and Italy last played in the third place match of last summer’s Confederations Cup. The game finished tied at 2-2, and Italy went on to win on penalties. Uruguay more or less fielded the same team. However, Italy is a very different squad. First off, Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli and Ignazio Abate did not play in that game. Secondly, impact players like Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta, Antonio Cassano and Mateo Darmian weren’t even on the roster for the tournament. Italy was able to match Uruguay in the game with a much weaker lineup compared to what they now have at their disposal.
Italy shouldn’t panic after their loss to Costa Rica. Prandelli’s team knows what to expect from teams who seek to neutralize them. Italy has a strong team, and they know that they can play level with Uruguay, if not beat them. After all, Spain lost a game in the group stages in South Africa four years ago. Who’s to say Italy can’t repeat the effect this year.