In the first ever meeting between Italy and Costa Rica in the World Cup, the two leaders of Group D will meet on Friday in a match to determine who moves on to the second round.

With Uruguay’s 2-1 victory against England on Thursday, there is currently a three way tie atop the “Group of Champions” between Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. With Italy and Costa Rica yet to play, they only have one appearance in group play. Therefore, the winner of this match will automatically be alone atop the group and more than likely guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage.

Italy received encouraging news on Thursday as their star goalie, Gianlugi Buffon, was cleared to play in the meeting with Costa Rica. Buffon was a last minute scratch for Italy’s opening round match vs. England last week with an ankle strain suffered in training. Italian coach, Cesare Prandelli downplayed the injury in the days leading up to the Azzurri’s opener, but chose to go with Salvatore Sirigu in Manaus the day of the match. Although Sirigu played well in Buffon’s stead, he looked uncomfortable at times and Prandelli is hopeful to have his rock in net come Friday.

“We didn’t have enough time for him to recover, but I think in a few days he will be available again. He had a sprain so I don’t know how long he will be out for,” The coach said coyly.

When asked if he thought he would start in goal in place of Buffon against Costa Rica, Sirigu responded,

“Gigi is the captain of our national team and he is the starting goalkeeper. A game is not going to change that.”

Defenseman Marco Verratti was also back at training on Thursday and is expected to start against Costa Rica after being taken off the pitch with an unknown virus during the England match.

For Costa Rica, they are looking to carry over the momentum from their 3-1 beat down of group favorite Uruguay last Saturday.

The victory was the first time Los Ticos scored three goals in eleven World Cup much matches and even more stunning was that the three goals all came in the second half and were scored efficiently on just four shots on target. The victory also marked the first time Costa Rica has ever beaten Uruguay on any stage.

This match will come down to the possession and passing of the Azzurri countered with the offensive attack of Los Ticos.

Italy’s pass completion percentage in their game against England was 93 percent, the highest ever recorded in World Cup history. The Italians are manned in the middle by the great Andrea Pirlo who made 108 passes against the Brits. A lot of those passes were completed to teammate Daniele de Rossi who also made 105 passes of his own.

The ever exciting Mario Balotelli will be receiving most of the passes from his Italian teammates as he looks to score again for the second straight match. Balotelli tweeted earlier Thursday that he would like a kiss from the Queen if the Italains beat the Costa Ricans.

Joel Campbell and Oscar Duarte lead the offensive attack for Costa Rica each of whom found the net in their win over Uruguay.

The game is set to kick off at 12:00 PM EST at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife where the humidity is expected to be at 90 percent with a 20 percent chance of rain. This should bode well for the Italians who played their last match in high humidly in Manaus. It can be seen on ESPN and in Spanish on Univision. If you want to live stream the match, simply go to WatchESPN here and  here for a live stream in Spanish.