Despite losing their last two consecutive friendlies, 4-1 against Belgium on Monday and last Thursaday, 2-0 to England (winning against Northern Ireland 3-0 on June3) , Costa Rica’s national team are expected to run to the last 8 in real World Cup 2018 play with their first game on Sunday against Serbia.
This time will be La Seleccion’s fifth appearance at a World Cup. Their last, four years ago in Brazil, Costa Rica reached the quarterfinals. They also played in 1990 and 2002 editions of the World Cup.
Under the direction of former midfielder Oscar Ramirez, the 2018 team is keeping the same base of players from the 2014 World Cup, even those that did not enjoy regular playing time in Europe. Ramirez’s main challenge will be finding a way to fit new players into this core group, especially in the attack.
Keylor Navas is Costa Rica’s and the world’s, best-known player (goalie) and has the leadership qualities to match. His strong performance in Brazil secured a move in 2014 to Real Madrid, where he has been a regular starter despite criticism from fans.
Navas has won three Champions League titles with the Spanish club since he joined. Giancarlo Gonzalez and Bryan Oviedo are undisputed starters. Kendall Waston, who scored the qualifying goal in a last-gasp draw against Honduras in Central American qualifying, is likely to also be included in the starting lineup. Other options include veteran Oscar Duarte and versatile defender Francisco Calvo.
Bryan Ruiz, now 32 but one of the team’s best players in 2014, is the captain and main attacking threat. Celso Gamboa, Cristian Bolaños, Joel Campbell, David Ramirez, Marco Ureña and Ariel Rodriguez complete the La Sele’s attack force.
Costa Rica’s biggest group game is against Brazil on June 22. The team will also face Switzerland on June 27.