Key Info and Odds: How Costa Rica look ahead of the World Cup
La Sele face England at Wembley on Thursday
Costa Rica were the surprise package at the last World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals in Brazil.
They’re gearing up for another tilt on the biggest stage this summer, and continue their push with another friendly against England on Thursday.
Ahead of that clash, the Coral News Team investigate whether La Sele will perform another tournament miracle, or be easy fodder for their groupmates…
Oscar Ramirez’s side finished second in CONMEBOL qualification, easing to a World Cup spot with relatively little fuss.
Along the way, they managed seven clean sheets in 16 games. However, aside from a 4-0 demolition of the USA, they weren’t especially high scorers – with a flurry of 1-0 and 2-0 victories.
However, they’ve been poor in recent friendlies – including a 5-0 defeat at Spain in November.
Who’s in the squad
The core of the 2014 squad are involved again this time. Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas is probably the biggest name of the bunch.
However, former Fulham hitman Bryan Ruiz has the captain’s arband. The 32-year-old has chalked up over 100 caps and 23 goals since his debut in 2005.
Arsenal’s Joel Campbell also offers pace and physicality up front. Meanwhile, Espanyol defencer Oscar Duarte has become an ever-present at centre-back.
Head coach Ramirez has been at the helm since summer 2015. Formerly assistant of La Sele from 2006-08, he went on to have good stints at Costa Rican club sides Santos de Guapiles and Alajuelense.
It’s been ‘so far, so good’ for Ramirez in the national team job. A semi-final appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2017 has been followed by World Cup qualification.
But the current boss has plenty of work to do if he wants to emulate the feats achieved by Jorge Luis Pinto four years ago.
World Cup Group
Costa Rica upset the odds in the group stage four years ago – and they’ll have to do so again if they want to progress in Russia.
Two of their opponents this summer – Brazil and Switzerland – are currently in the top six of the FIFA World Rankings.
Costa Rica are nine places above fellow groupmates Serbia. But while they’re hardly world-beaters, Mladen Krstajic’s side do have the benefit of multiple squad-members currently plying their trade in Russian football.
If La Sele are to have a realistic shot at progression, they’ll need a positive result against Serbia in their first game.
However, their focus for the time being is on Thursday’s trip to Wembley. Take a draw or more against England, and it could be just the boost La Sele need.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing