Costa Ricans or as they are affectionately called ‘Los Ticos’ would be looking to replicate what they did in the 2014 World Cup reaching the quarter-finals which was done the first time in their history. This would be their fifth time at the World Cup which is most by any central American team and also Costa Rica was one of the first Central American teams to win a game at the World Cup.
After the appointment of Oscar Ramirez as the head coach, this team looks much more balanced and formidable. Defensively they are a well organized team and they set themselves up very nicely on the counter-attack.
Squad Analysis :
Goalkeeping : Oscar Ramirez would not be having a trouble picking his number one keeper for the World Cup due to the presence of three-time UCL winner Keylor Navas in the squad. Keylor Navas was one of the standout keepers in 2014 World Cup at Brazil. One of his key performances during the World Cup was the Round of 16 game against Greece where he pulled out some sensational saves making him the man of the match and a role model for many Costa Ricans. Patrick Pemberton of Liga Deportiva Alajuelense and Leonel Moreira of Herediano are some notable additions to this department.
Defence: Defence was something that this Costa Rican side is particularly strong. Defensively they shape up as five at the back with Bryan Oviedo and Cristian Gamboa as the fullback and the central positions will be taken up by Johnny Acosta, Francisco Calvo and Óscar Duarte. The 20-year-old full back Ian Smith would be one of the youngsters to watch out for in this Costa Rican Squad.
Midfield : The Costa Rican midfield would be occupied by the likes of David Guzmán, Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz. The strong physicality’s of David Guzmán and Celso Borges would help this side to dominate in the midfield and help them to shape up their midfield in a defensive mindset. Everyone’s favourite Fulham workaholic, Bryan Ruiz is Costa Rica’s most inspirational playmaker and was one of their star men at the 2014 World Cup. After spending four years in west London, Ruiz has settled at Sporting Lisbon where he has become a key player.
Forward : Upfront, Los Ticos have the presence of Marco Ureña who has been a regular starter to this team. One of the key names in the forward’s list of this squad would be Joel Campbell who has been contacted to Arsenal since 2011 but has been on loan to six different clubs during the last seven years. Campbell was an important attacking player for Costa Rica in Brazil, scoring against Uruguay and successfully converting his penalty in the shoot-out against Greece.
Probable Team & Formation : (5-4-1)Keylor Navas, Cristian Gamboa, Bryan Oviedo, Oscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo, Johnny Acosta, David Guzman, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Marco Urena
Team Ratings :
- Goalkeeping: 8/10
- Defending: 7/10
- Midfield: 6/10
- Forward: 6/10
- Overall: 6.75/10
- 17 June: Costa Rica v Serbia Samara, Russia
- 22 June: Brazil v Costa Rica ,Saint Petersburg, Russia
- 27 June: Switzerland v Costa Rica Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Past Record :
Ahead of the last World Cup, nobody would have given Costa Rica a hope of qualifying the Group of death with the likes of England, Italy and Uruguay but they defied the odds and went on to top the group. After the Round of 16 win against Greece the Costa Rican miracle was finally ended in the hands of the Netherlands who won the quarterfinals on penalties after a goalless draw.
Recent Form :
Costa Rica topped their first qualifying group ahead of Panama, Haiti and Jamaica without losing, then continued their form to finish second behind Mexico in the final table and qualify for a consecutive World Cup. Heading into the World Cup, Los Ticos have not been in a good run of form with just 2 wins from 6 International friendlies and with a heavy 5-0 loss against Spain. Costa Rica has to up their game in order to do well in the World Cup
Coach’s Quotes :
‘Since Brazil we’re a different side now, we’ve got different strengths’, said Oscar Ramirez . ‘But I know we’ve got a squad which is very excited to build on the achievements we had in 2014. ‘In Brazil, not only did we get to the knockout stage, we won the group and we were excited to see what we were capable of. It has given us a very good reference point of where we are in world football and what we can achieve.’It’s going to be a very difficult group, possibly more so than the one we faced in Brazil, but the dream is still there. The dream is still to chase and we hope to go forward and give a good account of ourselves and hopefully have the same happiness that we had in 2014.’
With the presence of heavyweights and potential World Cup favourites Brazil in the group, Costa Rica would be looking for the second place. Costa Rica has atendency to surprise in tournaments like these. They should get ahead of the likes of Switzerland and Serbia which means that they should be qualifying for the Round of 16 and set a probable date with Germany.