Costa Rica – Three World Cup stars to look out for in Russia 2018

Former quarter-finalists

We won’t see Costa Rica crowned World Cup 2018 champions it’s safe to presume and they will be virtually friendless in the betting ring despite bookmakers offering a cracking 750/1 on them making history. The Tricolor have played at this level five times and reached the quarter-finals in 2014. A team who love upsetting the odds.

They were hammered 5-0 by Spain in the build-up to this summer’s feast of football but can take confidence from securing a 1-0 win over Scotland at Hampden back in March when expected to struggle in Alex McLeish’s first game in charge. They share Group E with Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia so extending their stay beyond three games will be a big ask.

The plucky underdogs start with a match vs Serbia on Sunday 17th June with a 1.00pm kick-off shown live on ITV. That looks their best chance to pick up a win and if they are able to do just that it’ll make game three vs Switzerland 10 days later very interesting indeed. Here’s a trio of names worth knowing about…..

Navas one of the best

Marco Urena

Was the hero in Glasgow earlier this year when scoring the goal that wrecked the Tartan Army’s party and took the legs away from Big Eck’s start. Scotland did have their share of scoring opportunities that night but were rusty in the final-third and looked to let their opponents off the hook. Costa Rica finished with just two shots on target in that match but took one and they must take advantage of any crumbs that drop their way in June.

Urena has spent the last couple of years in America playing for San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles in MLS without too much success but he’ll be match sharp and already has 60 international caps behind him. A trusted member of the team he’ll see his fair share of game time but must make it count. 6/1 joint second favourite with Bet Victor in the top Costa Rica goal scorer market.

Bryan Ruiz

Captain of the team and market leader in that top scorer field with no more than 4/1 doing the rounds at the time of asking. The experienced 32-year-old attacking midfielder has played for the likes of Fulham and PSV in his career and his now plying his trade with Sporting in the Primeira Liga where they finished third this season.

Ruiz hit the net on a dozen occasions for Sporting in 81 matches and boasts 23 international goals already. Is guaranteed to start every group match for CR and will head off with confidence to call upon having scored against Pacos in a 2-0 win near the end of the season and in the 5-0 rout of Maritimo earlier this year. When he performs well Costa Rica aren’t far off the pace.

Keylor Navas

A safe pair of hands between the sticks and that’s just what’s needed. He’s no stranger to a busy night in the colours of his country but he is among the best goalkeepers in the world at the minute and is capable of winning World Cup points on his own. 31-year-old Navas is a regular in the Real Madrid squad and has been a permanent fixture for Costa Rica since making his debut in 2008.

The team will need goals if they are to progress but keeping things tight at the other end will be crucial and manager Oscar Ramirez knows it, calling on the experience of Navas and setting his side up defensively. Flicking through recent results they kept a clean-sheet against Scotland, Panama, French Guiana, Honduras and Belize while limiting Tunisia and Hungary to one each.

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