RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Captain Gianluigi Buffon is back from injury and in goal for Italy’s World Cup match against Costa Rica.
Buffon missed the Azzurri’s opening 2-1 win over England in Group D after twisting his ankle and knee a day before that match.
Coach Cesare Prandelli also selected two other new players in his lineup, inserting Ignazio Abate at right back and Thiago Motta in midfield.
Giorgio Chiellini moves over from left back to central defense alongside Andrea Barzagli and Matteo Darmian shifts from right to left back while Gabriel Paletta was benched.
Motta replaces Marco Verratti in a 4-1-4-1 formation spearheaded by Mario Balotelli.
Costa Rica’s lineup is unchanged from its 3-1 win over Uruguay, with coach Jorge Luis Pinto using five defenders.
The Ticos are led by forward Joel Campbell, the 21-year-old who scored one goal and set up another against Uruguay.
The 36-year-old Buffon is already the third player in history to be part of five World Cup squads, along with Germany great Lothar Matthaus and former Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal. He first went to the tournament back in 1998, but was a second-choice option behind Gianluca Pagliuca and didn’t play. He then took over the starting position at World Cups from 2002 onward.
Skies at the Arena Pernambuco were slightly overcast less than an hour before kickoff.
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Matteo Darmian, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Candreva, Thiago Motta, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Mario Balotelli.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Celso Borges, Oscar Duarte, Christian Bolanos, Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Junior Diaz, Cristian Gamboa, Yeltsin Tejeda.