Conjecture wise, Costa Rica’s chances of going far in the tournament isn’t that great. They punched above their weight in 2014 by reaching the quarter-finals but this time, repeating that feat would be some achievement, which is very unlikely.
As a team, the Los Ticos are a defensively solid team, sitting back and hoping for a counter-attack to carve out a goal-scoring opportunity.
Despite all these factors, they performed very well in the CONCACAF qualifying group. They defeated the USA in both legs (6-0 on aggregate). This clearly shows that underestimating them would not be a good idea.
They were grouped with England, Italy, and Uruguay last time in Brazil and qualified for the knockouts as group leaders. This distinctly shows us what they are about when it comes to tournament football.
They have been drawn with Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland this time. Overcoming Brazil would prove to be futile but challenging Serbia and Switzerland would be their aim if they are to have a chance of qualifying for the knockouts.
This is their third World Cup appearance in the last four editions, which shows their know-how as a team.
As touched upon earlier in the article, Costa Rica are a side who like to sit deep and counter the opposition. This was their platform in 2014 when they conceded just 2 goals in 5 games, only to be knocked out by the Netherlands via a penalty shootout.
Manager Oscar Ramirez prefers a 5-4-1 formation, with a compact midfield and a deep defensive line. Having Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas helps them to be calm in the defence. The pace of striker Marcos Urena helps them to stretch the opposition with route one football.
In football, one side’s strength is other side’s weakness. Costa Rica have relied upon defending deep and creating goal-scoring opportunities on the break, resulting in them sometimes struggling to score goals.
However, this didn’t deter them in the qualifying campaign where they scored 14 goals in 10 games. But their general trade to sit deep does not always enable them to be a naturally attacking side. Hence, if their route one football lines are cut down, they can be wearied down.
Oscar Ramirez would be leading his country in the World Cup for the first time. He was the assistant manager when the Las Ticos played in Germany back in 2006. He is a defensive-minded coach, who prefers to play a flat 5-4-1 formation with a deep defensive line.
World Cup History
Overall, they have appeared four times in World Cup (1990, 2002, 2006, 2014). This is their 5th attempt to shine on the biggest stage.
In their recent adventure, they reached the quarter-finals to shock the world. Otherwise, they are more of a group stage side with the added ambition of being a party spoiler.
Without a doubt, Bryan Ruiz is their key player, who is about to play his 100th game for the country. He has the required experience to perform at the highest level.
Generally, playing on the wings can be taxing for an ageing player but Ruiz has done well there for his country and will continue to do so. Costa Rica will rely on him to create chances for them in the attacking third. Joel Campbell is another player to watch out for.
Despite not being touted to progress far in the tournament, they are still a good side that can surprise a team or two. Last time, they topped a group consisting of England, Uruguay, and Italy, so counting them out in a group of Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland would not be a good idea.
They might have to rely on their defence and the goalkeeper to keep out opposition attacks and hope Bryan Ruiz has a good World Cup.