Costa Rica Preview – Not Looking Rosy For Los Ticos
World Cup 2014
Can Costa Rica overcome their poor record away from home?
There has been a clear pattern to Costa Rica’s form over the last year. At home, they have an impressive record of five wins from their last six, including victories over the USA, Mexico and Paraguay, although a defeat to South Korea was less impressive.
But away from home, things look less rosy for Los Ticos. Their only victory in seven games on foreign soil came against the Dominican Republic, and in their last two overseas matches, they were beaten 1-0 by Australia and thrashed by Chile.
Costa Rica stumbled through third round qualifying, losing both games to Mexico and dropping points against El Salvador, and made a poor start to their final qualifying group, drawing with Panama and suffering a defeat in the USA.
But a 2-0 home win over Jamaica restored some confidence and they went on to win four of their last seven, including games against Mexico and the USA, losing just once, and qualifying in second place from the CONCACAF group.
In Keylor Navas, Costa Rica have one of the world’s better goalkeepers, who may end up at one of Europe’s top clubs next season.
The team is full of hard-working defensive players, although the loss of Everton full-back Brian Oviedo was a blow.
The glaring weakness in the squad is in the range of attacking options. Much will depend on Bryan Ruiz, who has the ability to influence games, but who can sometimes appear to become disheartened, a charge that can also be levelled at the team as a whole.
Costa Rica’s fans are entitled to feel a little aggrieved at ending up in the tournament’s Group of Death. Their opening match against Uruguay will set the tone. If they can play with freedom and if the Uruguayans have an off day, they may even be able to achieve something memorable. Realistically though, their best chance of picking up a point will be in their final game against England, who could struggle to find the tools to unlock a stubborn five-man Costa Rican defence.
Jorge Luis Pinto has made the most of the resources at his disposal and has moulded a team that is probably the best in Costa Rica’s history, so it is a pity that they have landed in such a difficult group.
Their qualification was built on defensive solidity, and it is worth noting that five of their last six defeats have been by a 1-0 score-line. That probably won’t be enough to earn them any points against Uruguay or Italy, but it might enable them to frustrate an England team that can struggle to break down a packed defence. Back Costa Rica to nick a point in the England v Costa Rica Match Betting market at 16/5.