Costa Rica v England: Three Lions cubs to claim sliver of pride
It’s all over bar the checking-out for England at the World Cup, but before Roy Hodgson’s band of broken men set off on summer holidays there is the small matter of a final Group D match against already-qualified Costa Rica to contend with.
The veteran Londoner – who’s staying on as coach – will make a raft of changes to his XI for the fixture, and we’ve had a butcher’s at the best bets ahead of the not-quite-dead rubber.
Costa Rica are through to the last-16 in Brazil after beating Italy and Uruguay, and while the Central American springers need a point to secure top-spot – and avoid Colombia in the next round – they would be forgiven for taking their feet off the pedal in Belo Horizonte.
Los Ticos’ squad does not appear strong enough for wholesale changes, as nine of head coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s charges ply their trade in the difficult-to-judge Costa Rican domestic league.
England are bound to play with more freedom now they’re out, and introducing the likes of Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Jack Wilshere – all young, hungry, attack-minded players – from the start should provide the spark for a pride-salvaging handicap victory.
There’s been the odd disappointed murmur coming out of Brazil with regards to the Southampton midfielder, who is reportedly the subject of a £20m/£30m move to Liverpool dependent on which paper you read.
Lallana was superb against Denmark at Wembley in March, and can count himself unlucky to have missed out on starting a World Cup match so far. Hodgson could just as easily have plumped for the 26-year-old against Italy, but it wasn’t to be.
Saints benefited to the tune of nine Premier League goals last year from a player who, to be frank, is now due one for England.
Along with captain Steven Gerrard, Lampard is widely expected to retire shortly after making his 106th appearance for his country, and the 36-year-old will skipper the side against Costa Rica.
Can the Chelsea legend sign off with his 30th England goal from a set-piece pearler? You won’t get a price on this outcome with any other bookmaker, and 25/1 looks big.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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