Italy 'baked and eaten' by Costa Rica
The Italian media has begun an inquisition into what Sky Sport Italia commentator Fabio Caressa called one of the country's "most embarrassing defeats" after the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday.
After the optimism sparked by the opening 2-1 win over England in Manaus last Saturday, the pre-tournament pessimism has returned with a vengeance.
"Baked and eaten," says La Gazzetta dello Sport. "A tired and lifeless Italy are tormented by Costa Rica and complicate their own lives. To go through, at least a draw this coming Tuesday against Uruguay is necessary. It is going to be tough."
"A nightmare for Italy" adds an inside page headline over a picture of a forlorn Andrea Pirlo and a confused-looking Gianluigi Buffon. "A physical collapse of a Nazionale which was always struggling," the paper says. "A nightmare after the midnight beauty against England; a carriage that turns into a pumpkin; horses that become mice. What happened to the lions of Manaus who roared even at the Amazon humidity?"
All three of Italy's sports dailies express shock at losing a game which only coach Cesare Prandelli had refused to see as the easiest of the group in paper -- and Prandelli is not spared of blame.
Matteo Darmian, so impressive in Italy's opening match against England, was switched to the left as his partnership with Antonio Candreva down the right was broken up to make room for Ignazio Abate, while Thiago Motta failed to justify his inclusion instead of Marco Verratti.
"Prandelli could just have left his system unchanged," argues Tuttosport, with the Turin-based newspaper suggesting one change to make Italy stronger. "There's always [Torino striker Ciro] Immobile," its editorial says.
"But he's only seen as an alternative to Mario Balotelli. Will the coach now have the courage to leave Super Mario on the bench and thrust last season's top scorer into the action?
"Once again, our whole World Cup is on the line going into our last group game. This is our uniquely Italian tradition: how to complicate your lives against the smaller nations."
Finally, Il Corriere dello Sport tries to consign only the third defeat in competitive matches under Prandelli to the history books and move on. "We only need a draw against Uruguay," it says -- although the Celeste's own 2-1 win over England shows that is no simple task.
RAI television asked Carlo Ancelotti for his opinion. "It's all gone awry, but now we've got to focus on Uruguay," he said. "That is the most important thing.
"We need to be careful about the potential they have in attack but they've got problems at the back, as you could see against Costa Rica and in the first half against England.
"It's very positive to have two potential results which would take you through. They are going to be forced to throw men forwards while Italy can then hit them on the break. I don't see Uruguay as a side without any problems. The Azzurri are stronger."