Costa Rica have ability to repeat World Cup shock of eight years ago – predicted line up and stats | The Sun

Costa Rica have ability to repeat World Cup shock of eight years ago – predicted line up and stats | The Sun

November 19, 2022

THE team of Keylor Navas will face a very tough Group and progressing to the Round of 16 will be very hard.

However, their chances lie in the fact that Germany and Spain have relatively young teams, and the recent injury of Marco Reus certainly increases the chance of Costa Rica making it to the Round of 16.

But Japan and Costa Rica will have to fight hard as the Europeans are expected to be the first two teams of Group E.

Predicted starting XI

Costa Rica usually likes to play in a very wide 4-4-2 in possession of the ball; in this shape, the wingers offer great width and pace from the outside.

Keylor Navas would be shielded by Francisco Calvo and Oscar Duarte in front, and Bryan Oviedo and Keysher Fuller in the full-back positions. 


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Celso Borges and Yeltsin Tejeda form a double-pivot with Jewison Bennette and Gerson Torres on the wings.

This set of players is joined by Joel Campbell and Anthony Contreras making up the forward line.

Attacking phase

Costa Rica likes to be an offensive and direct team with a high percentage of long passes and passes to the final third, in comparison to other teams we’ll see in action at the World Cup.

They also like to go long to escape the pressure from deep, relying on Keylor Navas and his good long distribution to skip steps in the build-up and connect rapidly with wingers or full-backs out wide.


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The example above shows us this direct intention to break forward quickly with long deliveries from deep, in this case being executed by the centre-back to the left-back.

Costa Rica likes to give license to Keylor Navas to send long balls constantly, to start attacking moves or to be moved quickly to the middle third, where the full-backs and wingers can play one-twos .

The figure below shows an example of the kind of pass frequently made by Keylor from the back. 

Again, the centre-backs take responsibility for progression from the back, with good movements from the strikers who occasionally like to drop deep to give their deeper teammates options in the build-up phase.

The right-centre-back carries the ball this time through the middle and sees his forward, who has dropped very deep into their own third to receive the ball, showing for the ball. 

On receiving, the forward then turns to accelerate the team’s march on the opposition’s final third.


In the middle of the pitch, Costa Rica often create overloads out on the left-hand-side where the midfielder on this side joins to create numerical superiority, helping the left-winger and left-back to beat the pressure. 

In this case, the left midfielder joins to be activated as a third man before his winger releases the ball to the full-back, who is then going to pass it to the middle where space has been created.

Costa Rica like to finish periods of possession with overlapping full-backs and aim to overload the box with players that can be a surprise factor to anticipate defenders and try to score headers. 

After they move the ball from wide to the middle, they change the ball immediately to the full-back on the weak side.

In this example, the right-back is the one to receive the ball with time and space to take a cross into the box, which is very congested thanks to the supporting runs of the midfielders and the two strikers who try to pin defenders.

Defensive phase

Out of possession, Costa Rica like to apply little intensity against the opposition high upfield when defending.

Typically, they are a team that sustains a lot of pressure from the opposition out of possession and have to clear constantly and win the ball back several times in their own third.

Luis Fernando Suárez’s teams like to defend in a narrow and rigid 4-4-2 position-oriented structure. In this system, the double-pivot tends to be a very proactive one to jump off their line and mark tightly rival midfielders. 

Both strikers perform the task of blocking passing options in front of the centre-backs, and the midfielders are required to mark zonally, protect this space, suffocate the opposition in central midfield positions and try to win the ball back via this rather passive approach. 

Costa Rica generally don’t press rivals very high on the pitch.

However, they do on occasion, and it very much depends on the in-game situation at that moment, though we don’t expect to see them pressing with great intensity in Qatar very often. 

They’ll try to accumulate plenty of players on the strong side of the ball to try and stress players, eliminating short passing options and forcing them to send long balls,. 

This example is a perfect visual of what we are explaining, as the six players of the midfield and forward lines mark very tightly in the final third of the pitch on this occasion. 


In attacking transitions, Costa Rica like to rely on long passes from former Real Madrid keeper, Keylor Navas.

In defensive transitions, Costa Rica have issues tracking runs from opposition players who can cause lots of harm with their runs, as their defensive line is not the fastest and can’t contain players at full speed, coming from the inside carrying the ball or defending through passes.


Keylor Navas forms a big part of a defence full of players who will try everything to protect their line, with the likes of Francisco Calvo and Oscar Duarte in the centre-back partnership, inside Bryan Oviedo and Keysher Fuller as the starter full-backs.

Carlos Martínez and Kendall Watson are other young players that could be primarily rotational parts of the team.


Yeltsin Tejeda and Celso Borges bring experience and leadership in the double-pivot, but players like Brandon Aguilera, Anthony Hernández or Orlando Galo can help the team with a lot of creativity and proactivity through the middle.

Bryan Ruíz, Gerson Torres or Johan Venegas are the experienced attacking players but Jewison Bennette, at only 19 years of age, will surely be a tempting option for Suárez.


Anthony Contreras has been really amazing and exciting for his country of late, he has already made his full debut, and we expect to see him lining up alongside his veteran partner Joel Campbell, who has continued to be a pacey and threatening option, pushing the last line of the defenders and making a nuisance of himself in-game.

Key player

Keylor Navas continues to be the most vital player in the Costa Rica national team, thanks to his clutch shot-stopping ability that helps his team to maintain clean sheets.

In addition his contribution is vital to their build-up, as he has the ability to make long deliveries to find free-men out wide, to then open space through the middle. 

Tournament prediction

Things won’t be easy to Costa Rica.

Their victory in the first round of the World Cup currently has the lowest odds in the betting markets, which also reflects the opinion of the pundits.

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Germany and Spain might have a lot of young blood in their teams compared with their winning campaigns in 2014 and 2010, but they still are the clear favourites to progress to the Round of 16.

For even more detailed analysis of all 32 teams in the FIFA World Cup 2022, download your copy of the November Total Football Analysis magazine here

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