Soccer News of Sun, 22 Jun 20144
Maradona praises 'refreshing' Costa Rica
Diego Maradona says he has been impressed by Costa Rica's attacking style, praising the fact that they could beat Italy and Uruguay with flair.
The Central American nation have qualified for the last-16 of a World Cup finals for just the second time in their history after shock 3-1 and 1-0 wins over la Celetse and the Azzurri respectively.
However, what has particularly struck Maradona is that Jorge Luis Pinto's side have refused to play "boring" football and have succeeded in taking on some of the established nations without solely being defensive.
"Like Chile, Costa Rica have won their first two matches in style," the 53-year-old wrote in his column for the Times of India.
"They have been unafraid of their illustrious opponents and their strategy has been refreshing. They did not win by merely defending against better teams.
"They attacked with great speed, with the intention of scoring and once ahead, did not put everyone behind the ball in the defensive third to make life difficult for their opponents. They wanted to entertain and got the support of the crowd. It proved that a relatively small team doesn't have to be boring to beat the established ones.
"This reminds me of Cameroon, who surprised everyone in 1990 by topping their group ahead of Argentina, Romania and the Soviet Union. But that side played a different game. They were extremely physical and produced some rough and destructive football to protect their lead against us.
"Costa Rica's philosophy has been different and that makes their achievement all the more creditable."
Maradona is now relishing the Group D encounter between Uruguay and Italy, which will decide the side that follows Costa Rica into the next round, but also emphasised that Cesare Prandelli's men will need to improve to secure progress.
"The biggest upset in Brazil so far has been Costa Rica's win over Italy," he continued.
"Italy had looked organised. They are never spectacular but know what to do and usually play a brand of football that is very effective. Against Costa Rica, they were made to look ordinary.
"There was no verve in their forward moves and the defence came under pressure a number of times. Rarely do they experience this in group matches.
"The defeat means they need a draw against Uruguay, who themselves must win to qualify for the last 16. It will be an exciting match."