Costa Rica shocked the world four years ago by heroically making it to the quarter finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, however, based on their recent performances, it seems unlikely that they will repeat this achievement in Russia this summer. Having only beaten the USA and Trinidad & Tobago in the qualifiers, Costa Rica qualified in October for a second consecutive World Cup finals on the back of a three match winless streak. This has sprouted fear amongst the nation’s football fans, causing some to question whether their ‘golden generation’ is past its prime.
Drawn in a tough group with Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia, it looks unlikely that this Costa Rica team will make it as far as the second round. Although their 2014 World Cup performance was a shock to everyone at the time, in hindsight it is clear to see that the team had a confidant build-up to the tournament, giving them positive momentum going into it. That is not the case this time, where after a shaky qualifying campaign, they have recently lost to both Spain and Hungary in friendly games. It will be interesting to see can coach Oscar Ramirez boost his team’s confidence before the tournament commences this summer.
- Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) – Costa Rica have heavily relied on their three European-based stars in recent years; Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell. Today, unfortunately for them, Navas is the only player that is still a regular starter for his club, as injury and poor form have hindered the other two. While Navas is indeed a talented goalkeeper, he has had a shaky season with Real Madrid as they have underperformed domestically. Navas also has a tendency to make errors in high-profile and high-pressure games, which is a trait that is not desirable when you are about to compete on world football’s biggest stage.
- Oscar Duarte (RCD Espanyol) – In central defence, Duarte is an experienced head, having been a part of the team that did so well in Brazil in 2014. He, along with other 2014 veterans Giancarlo Gonzalez, Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Christian Bolanos and Marcos Urena, mean that Costa Rica possess a cohort of quality, experienced players that form the backbone of the squad heading to Russia. It will be Duarte’s job to ensure his defensive unit are as solid as they can be, especially if they will have to try and keep out the attacking force that is Brazil.
Oscar Ramirez – Appointed as the replacement to former coach Paulo Wanchope in 2015, Ramirez played in midfield for Costa Rica at the World Cup in 1990, so he understands the mentality needed to perform at a World Cup finals. This is a critical trait, as he needs to find some way to strengthen his team’s mentality and confidence ahead of going to Russia, after a couple of dour results in recent friendlies.