World Cup 2022 team preview: Costa Rica set to struggle in tricky group

A repeat of 2014's quarter-final run looks unlikely.

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Costa Rica, nicknamed Los Ticos, have qualified for six World Cups, with their first appearance coming back in 1990 where they reached the last 16 stage.

Their best showing was back in 2014 when they reached the quarter-finals, losing out on a final four spot on penalties to the Netherlands. That fine run took them up to a  FIFA ranking of 14th in the world, but they currently sit 34th.

They’ve only missed out on one World Cup since the turn of 20th century, which is a phenomenal return for the nation that has a population of just over five million people, and here to look at their chances of impressing at the World Cup 2022 is Paddy football trader James Cumberton.

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Costa Rica World Cup 2022 qualifying record

Costa Rica made hard work of qualifying through the CONCACAF process. They finished fourth in a group of eight with Canada, Mexico and USA ahead of them. Panama, Jamaica, El Salvador and Honduras made up the rest of the group. They won seven of their 14 games, losing three. Fourth place meant they had to qualify via a playoff against New Zealand in June and they just scraped through the tie winning 1-0, with the Kiwis feeling hard done by after they dominated large spells of the game.

Who is the Costa Rica manager?

Luis Fernando Suarez is no stranger to the World Cup having been a manager in two of them. He coached Ecuador to the last 16 in 2006 only to be knocked out by England, and he then managed Honduras in the 2014 World Cup, where they lost all their games and bowed out in the group stage.

He has coached multiple clubs in central and south America including sides in Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru and Mexico. He has managed Costa Rica since June 2021 and has a 56 per cent win rate, having won 13 games from 23, losing five.

Costa Rica World Cup squad

Coach Suarez likes to play 4-4-2 but they could revert to a 5-4-1/3-4-3 and counter-attacking football against the superior opposition they find themselves against in Group E. Most of the Costa Rica players play in their home country. The most notable player not doing so is Keylor Navas, who is a Champions League winner with Real Madrid and is now the second-choice goalkeeper at PSG.

Teenager Jewison Bennette, who signed for Sunderland in the summer, is also another who plays in Europe. They are captained by former Fulham player Bryan Ruiz, who is now 37 and is expected to retire from international football after this tournament. He will not be a guaranteed starter, though. The squad is a mix of players starting off their international careers and players in the twilight stages. Defence is the most experienced area.

  • Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Esteban Alvarado, Patrick Sequeira
  • Defenders: Francisco Calvo, Juan Pablo Vargas, Kendall Waston, Oscar Duarte, Daniel Chacon, Keysher Fuller, Carlos Martínez, Bryan Oviedo, Ronald Matarrita
  • Midfielders: Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges, Youstin Salas, Roan Wilson, Gerson Torres, Douglas Lopez, Jewison Bennette, Alvaro Zamora, Anthony Hernandez, Brandon Aguilera, Bryan Ruiz
  • Forwards: Joel Campbell, Anthony Contreras, Johan Venegas

Costa Rica Key Player

Joel Campbell is one of the most experienced players in the squad. He made his debut in 2011 aged 18 and he has played 118 times for his country in all, scoring 25 goals. He currently plays in Mexico for Monterrey on loan from Club Leon. Arsenal fans will be familiar with him as he was signed by Arsene Wenger in 2011 and made 23 appearances for the club, scoring just three times.

His seven-year spell at Arsenal was spent on loan at various clubs in France, Portugal, Greece and Spain. This will be his third visit to the World Cup, where he has one goal. He is a guaranteed starter up front having secured the country’s qualification with the only goal against New Zealand in the play off and the Costa Ricans will be hopeful that the 30-year-old finds his best form in Qatar.

Costa Rica One to Watch

Jewison Bennett, 18, appears to have a bright future ahead of him. The teenager first made his debut for the national side in the summer of 2021 and has been a regular since. The winger assisted Campbell for his goal against New Zealand in the play off and he has recently scored his first goals at senior level, having grabbed a brace against South Korea in a friendly.

In August, he signed a four-year deal with Sunderland from his hometown club Herediano. There are not many 18 year olds at the World Cup and he is hoping to put in a good display which may attract scouts of some top clubs.

Costa Rica World Cup Prospects

Expectations are very low for the team and they are rank outsiders of the field with all bookmakers. If they were to qualify from the group, it would be a massive achievement. Saying that, they have qualified from tough groups in the past – when they got to the quarter-finals in 2014 they escaped a group with Italy, Uruguay and England, but that team was much stronger than the current crop.

It will be a miracle if they get out of their group. Their best chance of a victory comes against Japan, while Germany and Spain are expected to beat them comfortably, as the odds suggest. The Costa Rican fans will be hopeful rather than expectant of their team.

Costa Rica World Cup betting tips

At the time of writing, Navas has faced 65 penalties, excluding shoot outs, and has saved 18 of them, which is roughly 27 per cent. There have been more than 100,000 spot-kicks given by referees in professional football since 2009, of those 17.5 per cent were saved by the keeper, this puts Navas above the average. When facing Germany and Spain, it is more likely that the underdog concedes a penalty but we’ll back them to keep one out. REQUEST A #WHATODDSPADDY ON: KEYLOR NAVAS TO SAVE A PENALTY.

Costa Rica World Cup Winner Odds

Costa Rica World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 23, 4pm: Spain v Costa Rica (ITV)

November 27, 10am: Japan v Costa Rica (ITV)

December 1, 7pm: Costa Rica v Germany (ITV)

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON COSTA RICA’S GROUP E RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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