Prandelli: Costa Rica biggest test yet

Italy must be ready for their toughest challenge of the World Cup so far when they face Costa Rica in Recife on Friday, coach Cesare Prandelli has said.

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A win would put the Squadra Azzurra on the brink of qualification for the last 16, leaving them needing a draw with Uruguay in their final group game to be certain of going through.

But after watching Costa Rica's impressive 3-1 win over Uruguay in their opening fixture, Prandelli said he was taking nothing for granted.

"When, back in Italy, I was being asked about England and Uruguay, I said we had to watch out for Costa Rica," he told a news conference.

"They are a very well organised, rounded squad who have a style of play that they know off by heart. They have three players up front with great quality, including [Joel] Campbell -- a modern attacker who also has a good shot from distance.

"They deserved to beat Uruguay, and it's going to be a very difficult game for us."

Gianluigi Buffon could return in goal but defender Andrea Barzagli is a doubt, and Prandelli also expressed concern about the potentially stifling conditions in Recife.

"Timeouts should always be included, no matter what," the coach said. "Today at 13.00 there were 29 degrees and 57 percent humidity. After 20 minutes, there were 40 degrees and over 70 percent humidity.

"But we knew that we'd find this kind of climate, and we're ready for it. There are going to be games like this one in which we're going to have to suffer, but we have got to look for another win."

Meanwhile, his Costa Rica counterpart Jorge Luis Pinto said he hoped his side "will play even better than we did against Uruguay."

Victory would also put the Central American nation within touching distance of a place in the knockout stages, but neither team can mathematically clinch qualification in a group that will go down to the wire.

"We are in a group of death, and that's because all four of us are really good," Pinto said at a news conference.

"At the beginning, some people said that we were the worst and that we wouldn't even get one point. Other people said Spain would play the final against Brazil. That won't happen now."

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