Costa Rica v England – Rooney-inspired RedemptionStats
Costa Rica v England
Can England restore some pride before heading home? Or will Costa Rica continue their amazing run of form?
We expected Costa Rica to be difficult opposition in Group D, but nobody could have anticipated that they would be topping the group with qualification to the knockout stages already secured after two games.
The campaign began with an emphatic 3-1 win over Uruguay with most onlookers – myself included – preferring to focus on the South Americans’ deficiencies rather than Costa Rica’s qualities. But they forced the world to sit up and take note when they then went on to deservedly beat Italy 1-0 in Game 2.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s side are now guaranteed a place in the knockout stages of the World Cup for only the second time in their history, but will still be focussed on earning the point that would guarantee top spot and avoid a likely last-16 tie with the impressive Colombia.
England, meanwhile, are looking back on yet another disappointing campaign. A campaign that promised so much after an impressive display in defeat to Italy, but came crashing down to earth when the class of Luis Suarez proved to be the difference in a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in Game 2.
Wayne Rooney and co. have been making the right noises ahead of this game, stating that they want to leave the tournament on some sort of high note. But behind the words it is clear that the players and manager are distraught and the flight home can’t come soon enough.
Although top spot is important, it’s unlikely that the Costa Ricans will risk any players carrying niggling injuries and their could be quite a few changes made to allow players some extra rest. After all, they may even finish top regardless of the result in this game. Jose Cubero is the only player on a yellow card and is therefore unlikely to be risked ahead of the knockout stages.
Roy Hodgson is expected to make sweeping changes to his starting XI with youngsters like Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all given starting roles. Steven Gerrard could play his final game for England.
This will be the first ever international fixture between England and Costa Rica.
Sweeping changes to both nations’ starting XIs is a positive for England backers at odds of 5/6.
While Hodgson can unleash an army of talented and hungry youngsters – many of whom would arguably have faired better, and lets face it couldn’t have done much worse, than there so-called more senior peers – Costa Rica’s lack of depth in their squad will be exposed. So despite the contrasting levels of performances so far in the tournament, we can look to back England here.
Raheem Sterling struggled in the game against Uruguay, but should be able to prosper in a match likely to be more suited to his style of play, while Ross Barkley can make a splash on the international stage if afforded a place in the starting XI. Back the Merseyside duo to score anytime at odds of 9/4 and 11/4 respectively.