Saturday, January 16, 2021

Costa Rica World Cup Preview | Group E

Costa Rica at the World Cup 

Costa Rica (Los Ticos) arrive at the World Cup with probably one of the best kits on display. Unfortunately we may not see much of the strip as they have found themselves in the tricky Group E alongside Brazil, Switzerland and (in my opinion) a very good Serbian side.

On their way to qualifying for the tournament they achieved some pretty good results, including a 4-0 victory over the USA. They qualified with two games to spare. Unfortunately, the boat has been rocked following the qualification process, with Los Ticos losing 5-0 to Spain and then 1-0 to Hungary. It is still relatively dangerous to underestimate them because the team had an excellent World Cup campaign in 2014 and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they were to do well in Russia.

Continuity

The main strength of Los Ticos lies within the continuity of their squad. At least seven of the likely starting eleven will have been involved in the aforementioned 2014 effort. The team progressed out of the group stage but eventually knocked out by the Netherlands in the quarter finals. Aside from the obvious tournament experience, the players will play to one another’s strength. This well acquainted squad consists of the following:

Keylor Navas, Patrick Pemberton, Leonel Moreira, Cristian Gamboa, Ian Smith, Ronald Matarrita, Bryan Oviedo, Oscar Duarte, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Francisco Calvo, Kendall Waston, Johnny Acosta, David Guzman, Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges, Randall Azofeifa, Rodney Wallace, Bryan Ruiz, Daniel Colindres, Christian Bolanos, Johan Venegas, Joel Campbell, Marco Urena

Key Players

Keylor Navas, the Costa Rican goalkeeper has made over 90 appearances for Real Madrid. Its certainly useful to have such experience between the sticks (as we saw in the Champions League Final). I feel every point will matter in this group and so if he can even earn Los Ticos a crucial point, he will have earned his stripes. 

In addition, the captain, Bryan Ruiz is a scorer of very good goals. He scored three decent goals in qualifying and as chances will be few and far between for the Costa Ricans, this could be key.

Finally, Joel Campbell was explosive in 2014 and all he needs is a ball behind to be effective. Campbell is a frustrating player and that’s probably why he’s spent most of his Arsenal career on loan. International defences will no doubt fear him when he puts on the burners.

Prediction

In spite of everything they have going for them. Costa Rica’s success in 2014 was in Brazil and obviously very close to home. The humid conditions were difficult for European teams and I think in Russia, Los Ticos will struggle. I see them finishing bottom of the group but they will give a good account of themselves. I would not be surprised (or disappointed) if they were to prove me wrong.

Lazy Fan Fact

Fall from grace: Paulo Wanchope sacked from his post after U23 match brawl

The former manager (the much fabled Paolo Wanchope) stepped down from his role in 2015 after arguing with staff and brawling with security during an under 23 game against Panama. Following his crime of passion, he was replaced by the current manager Oscar Ramirez, who is revered by the Costa Rican fans. 

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