Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu is relishing the opportunity to compete at the World Cup but is prepared to step aside once Gianluigi Buffon recovers from injury. The Paris Saint-Germain player was in the line-up when the Azzurri edged England 2-1 in their Group D opener and is ready to go up against Costa Rica on Friday.
"I don't know if I will play," Sirigu told www.figc.it. "I am calm, I train as usual. We hope to have Gigi on the pitch as soon as possible, with his charisma and his personality. He is recovering. Gigi is the captain of the national team and he is the starting goalkeeper. A game is not going to change that.
"This is not a race between him and me, I never considered taking his place. I only think about my contribution because one must be realistic. I don't know if I'm even in the top ten list of goalkeepers and I'm really not interested. My focus is on giving all I have every day. One feels satisfied when he gives the best he has."
Sirigu made his World Cup debut against England and came up with some good saves to help Italy secure victory. "I felt excited prior to the game," the 27-year-old said. "I got so many phone calls and messages and I understood what this meant. Once the game started, I was calm. Having played in the Champions League, you start to get used to playing in crunch games. However, the World Cup is something else. It's a special atmosphere."
Gigi is the captain of the national team and he is the starting goalkeeper. A game is not going to change that.
Italy are joint top of their group, level on three points with Costa Rica, who stunned Uruguay 3-1 at the weekend. Joel Campbell was the star for Costa Rica after scoring once and setting up another goal. "In the Champions League I faced Olympiacos, where Campbell plays, and he really impressed me," Sirigu said."I knew that in this climate he could really express his top potential.
"Costa Rica's win against Uruguay was unexpected and it has changed the cards even though the group is still wide open. However, it hasn't surprised me that much because I knew they would be a difficult opponent. They are a physical team that runs a lot and is hard to play against them."
Sirigu, just like the other players and the coaching staff, is concerned about playing against Costa Rica in Recife at the hottest time of the day. "It's going to be a delicate game," he said. "We are going to have to use more energy than in our previous game.
"We struggled against England and at a certain point, the atmospheric conditions made it difficult to breathe. At 1pm it will be all the more challenging. The sun at that time is very strong and you struggle more to focus. We just want to win and Costa Rica is eager to continue to surprise. We will face them in the best possible way."
Buffon and AC Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio returned to training on Tuesday at Italy's base camp in Mangaratiba. De Sciglio, like Buffon, missed Italy's 2-1 win over England in Manaus on Saturday because of an injury. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli also welcomed back Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi after he sat out Monday's training sessions with neck pain. Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli is still absent with a muscular problem.