WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group D – Costa Rica out to prove the doubters wrong

Costa Rica are back on the world stage after missing South Africa 2010 and will be hoping they can make an impact in Brazil.
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Costa Rica are back on the world stage after missing South Africa 2010 and will be hoping they can make an impact in Brazil.

They were reasonably comfortable in CONCACAF’s six-team final qualifying round, finishing second behind the USA, with a record of five wins and three draws from their 10 fixtures.

During that process, Los Ticos beat both Mexico and the US on the way to a perfect record on unfamiliar soil but it was their subpar form on the road which is likely to pose problems in Brazil.

Pinto’s side couldn’t win away from Costa Rica during qualifying and have managed just one victory in eight outings on their travels which does not bode well for a series of matches on alien territory.

Realistically, Brazil 2014 is more about the experience and privilege for Costa Rica as they get set to tackle South American heavyweights Uruguay and European pair Italy and England, but as the say in the classics, stranger things have happened…

Costa Rica

Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto

Fixtures: Uruguay - June 14 (Fortaleza), Italy- June 20 (Recife), England - June 24 (Belo Horizonte)

Past outings against group opponents: Costa Rica have played Uruguay eight times in history but have failed to salute on any occasion. Their record against the Uruguayans includes two draws and six losses. They last met in an intercontinental play-off for the 2010 WC which saw Uruguay win 2-1 on aggregate.

Los Ticos have come up against Italy only once before which saw the Azzurri win 1-0 in a friendly in the USA in 1994.

Costa Rica have never met England at senior international level.

Key players: Bryan Ruiz (Fullham), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Joel Campbell (Arsenal), Celso Borges (AIK Stockholm)

World Cup utopia: Making it to the Round of 16.

Doomsday scenario: Failing to record a point would hurt but not scoring in the group stage would be a complete disaster.

Qualified by virtue of: Finishing second on CONCACAF’s hexagonal table.

Best result at a World Cup: Round of 16 (1990)

tribal’s forecast:

The creative and clever Ruiz is by far Costa Rica’s most important player and will need to be at his absolute peak if La Sele are to challenge their three more-fancied rivals.

Striker Saborio, who plies his trade in North America’s MLS, is relied upon too heavily for goals and needs plenty of support up top with the country’s most talented youngster Campbell expected to deliver that.

However, you can’t pin your hopes on an inexperienced 21-year old even if he has already played more than 30 times for the national team.

The likes of AIK midfielder Borges, FC Copenhagen’s Christian Bolanos and Mainz defender Junior Diaz will need to bring their European experience to the fore to assist the aforementioned key players.

Colombian boss Pinto brings with him strong defensive ideals as he looks to make up for the apparent shortcomings in attack which makes Costa Rica an extremely difficult side to score against.

Their best bet with a five-man defence will be to strangle their opposition and try to hit them on the counter which at times can work well in a tournament situation.

It would be remiss of me to completely dismiss the Costa Ricans, as they are ranked 34th in the world ahead of such nations as the Czech Republic, Ghana, Turkey and Nigeria, but they will need a minor miracle to progress from a group that consists of three previous World Cup winners.

Sure, they will take their opposition by surprise at some point but to do it over three matches against sides who have plenty to prove will be an enormous task in itself.

Prediction: Group stage elimination.

 
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