World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Costa Rica
Past Tournaments: 1990, 2002, 2006
How they got here: After trying their best to mess up the first phase of qualifying, losing twice to main rivals Mexico, they eventually sealed a fourth round spot where they turned on the style and the tables over Mexico, beating them along with fellow main draw qualifiers USA and Honduras as well as securing vital wins over Jamaica and Panama to seal their place in the finals for the fourth time in their history.
Star man: Bryan Ruiz (Fulham, on loan at PSV)
Ruiz will undoubtedly be key if Costa Rica are going to be able to match their best performance when reaching the round-of-16 at Italia 1990. After scoring 35 goals in 65 appearances for Twente, Fulham broke the bank to the tune of £10.6m for the striker and although things didn’t work out at Craven Cottage the 28-year-old has roared back into form after joining PSV on loan in January and will arrive in Brazil full of confidence. Ruiz also wears the captain’s armband so it will be crucial for their leader to play well.
Under the radar: Joel Campbell (Arsenal, on loan at Olympiacos)
Despite being signed up the FA Cup champions, Campbell only crept into the consciousness of British football fans when scoring for Olympiacos in their 2-0 win over Man United in the Champions League. However, the 21-year-old has been impressing abroad for some time with loan spells at Lorient and Real Betis catching admiring glances from a host of clubs. If he excels this summer Arsene Wenger may have to think twice about not bringing him back to north London sooner.
Team nutcase: Keylor Navas (Levante)
There are no shortage of characters in the line-up but one man who certainly won’t be shunning the limelight is their goalkeeper Keylor Navas. The 27-year-old has racked up 51 appearances since making his debut in 2008 and is a favourite with the fans at his club Levante. Aside from being able to save footballs he is also a dab hand at keeping out the smaller variety as shown below.
How will they get on?
Whatever group Los Ticos were put in it was going to be struggle and they are already being touted as whipping boys in Group D. Their participation in the qualification conversation has only been secured because pundits believe the amount of goals they concede against the other three teams could decide who reaches the last-16. That was the stage they reached in Italy 24 years ago and as the outsiders of all 32 teams it would be a huge achievement at 9/1 if they would to repeat the feat. Although they could have a significant influence on who does make it through it would still be a massive leap of faith to think they could get enough points to give themselves a chance, however, if the likes of England and Italy take them lightly they have the quality to punish such complacency.
To win the World Cup: 3000/1
Best World Cup Bet: Costa Rica or the Draw vs England @ 7/4
Watch one of Costa Rica’s finest moments as they defeat Sweden 2-1 to reach the round-of-16 at Italia 1990
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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