Another one of the expected whipping boys are Costa Rica – a very underrated team in our eyes. With Talents such as Alvaro Saborio, Bryan Oviedo, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell, you may expect some good football; however the first two, their best striker and defender – are both out with long term injuries. They still have a decent team though. Here is their squad:
In a restructured system, where the first two rounds were contested between lower ranked sides, Costa Rica did well. They came 2nd in their group of 4 in the 3rd round, and 2nd in the final group of 6 – with the top 3 going to Brazil automatically.
GK’s: Keylor Navas, Patrick Pemberton, Daniel Cambronero
DF’s: Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Oscar Duarte, Waylon Francis, Heiner Mora, Junior Diaz, Christian Gamboa, Roy Miller
MF’s: Celso Borges, Christian Bolanos, Esteban Granados, Michael Barrantes, Yeltsin Tejeda, Diego Calvo, Jose Miguel Cubero
FW’s: Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Randall Brenes, Marco Urena
Missing – Bryan Oviedo, Alvaro Saborio
Coach – Jorge Luis Pinto
Ones to Watch:
Bryan Ruiz – a lot is expected of this man now Saborio is out, but with all the expectations other coaches will latch onto this and mark him out of the game. He could still have a positive effect though, if he brings his Twente form. At Fulham, and even at PSV, he has not been good at all.
Joel Campbell – a nailed on starter, Campbell is now back at Arsenal after spending the season at Olympiakos. A quick, direct striker with an eye for goal – he could cause all sorts of problems for the likes of Jagielka, Barzagli and Lugano in the group stages!
Christian Gamboa – a lesser known player from the Costa Rican side, Rosenborgs’ Gamboa! He will be player at Right Back/Wing Back – forming a partnership with Ruiz. The quickest player in the side, and add in a lot of strength, he will be a key man for them, supporting the winger but also being quick enough to get back if needed. Not many will beat him in a foot race, that’s for sure.
(5-2-3/5-4-1): Navas, Gamboa, Umana, Gonzalez, Miller, Francis, Tejeda, Borges, Ruiz, Bolanos, Campbell.
One of the strangest formations on show in Brazil, Coach Jorge Luis Pinto has mastered this tactic. Three centre backs, two Wing backs, two deep lying midfielders and a front three with bags of pace and skill. Gamboa and Francis will get forward when possible – with all three centre backs staying put. Celso Borges plays further forward than Tejeda, and he is a bit of a playmaker, with a good eye for a pass. They also tend to adapt to their opposition – if they are going to be subject to sustained attacks for 90 minutes they will go with 5-4-1 with the two wingers dropping back into midfield. However, if they think they have a good chance, the two full backs operate as wing backs, and it turns into a 3-4-3.
Winner – 2500/1
Group Winner – 50/1
To Qualify – 10/1
Under 0.5 Points – 6/5
Over 1.5 Goals – 4/7
Despite confidence from the coach, Costa Rica will miss Saborio and Oviedo massively. If the three big sides in the group take them seriously, and give them some respect – they should beat them. We like Under 0.5 Points at 6/5 and Over 1.5 Goals at 4/7 as Top Tips for Costa Rica – their attack could do some damage, but I see them being beaten in all three but scoring a couple.