Reinforced by Keylor Navas in goal, Oscar Ramírez’s side are likely to err on the side of caution but the 2014 quarter-finalists can get out of a tough group if they start strongly
After a surprising World Cup performance at Brazil 2014, Los Ticos will look to repeat their success by sticking to the same formula. Costa Rica have favoured a defensive style since Jorge Luis Pinto took over the team and led them to the last eight four years ago. The coach this time is Oscar Ramírez, part of the Costa Rica squad that made history at Italia 90, securing a place in the knockout stages.
Ramírez has kept Pinto’s 5-4-1 that worked so well in Brazil, even though he likes to say that in attack the team switch to 3-4-3. This means that Costa Rica will be one of the few teams that line up with five at the back, in order to protect the goal defended by their star player, Keylor Navas.
Costa Rica will probably use Marco Ureña of Los Angeles FC as the lone ranger up top. Under Ramírez, Ureña is not asked to press the backline. His main duty will be to try to beat defences with his speed, hoping this creates chances for Christian Bolaños and Bryan Ruiz to look for diagonals to play him in. Recently he suffered facial fractures during an MLS game and his recovery period was set at four weeks, making his availability for Russia dependent on a last-minute decision. If he is not fit, his place will probably be taken by Joel Campbell, now at Real Betisand making his way back to the starting lineup after being injured for several months. Pupless