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Liverpool target stops Italy and puts Costa Rica into last 16

| 20.06.2014

After exiting the World Cup just over a week into the tournament, England might have hoped to take some solace from the fact that they always faced an uphill challenge after drawing Italy and Uruguay.

However, after they breezed past both the Azzurri and La Celeste, Costa Rica have booked a place in the knockout stages and put themselves in pole position to win a group full of World Cup champions.

A point against England will ensure Los Ticos claim top spot in Group D and likely avoid Colombia in the last 16, instead lining up a winnable clash with one of Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece.

Costa Rica are 10/3 to beat the Three Lions and send Roy Hodgson’s side home pointless, an incredibly tempting price after their displays against Italy and Uruguay.

Los Ticos thrashed Uruguay 3-1 thanks to their potency on the counter attack, but against Italy, it was their defensive organisation that came to the fore.

Bryan Ruiz put them ahead just before half-time and Italy barely got a sniff from then on. When they did get in on goal, they found keeper Keylor Navas in miserly mood.

The Levante keeper made four saves, and even when he was beaten, Navas put enough pressure on Mario Balotelli to ensure the fiery forward drifted his chip wide in the first-half.

Navas’ reputation has grown exponentially in the past 12 months, with Liverpool reportedly keeping tabs on the 27-year-old after his superb season in La Liga.

Only Thibaut Courtois kept more clean sheets than Navas’ 17 in the Spanish top flight, and only the top four sides conceded fewer goals than Levante across the season.

Another factor that makes Navas an even more attractive proposition to Liverpool and other potential suitors this summer is his reported £8million release clause.

With Pepe Reina set to leave the Reds on a permanent basis Liverpool could view Navas as an excellent cheap option to bolster their goalkeeping ranks.

The jury is still out on Simon Mignolet’s future as the Reds’ number one after a mixed debut season where he made five errors leading to goals, more than any other player in the Premier League, and Navas could pressure for the Belgian for a first-team spot at Anfield.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune