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Switzerland vs Costa Rica Preview and Predictions

 

On Wednesday night, Switzerland and Costa Rica go head-to-head in Group E of the World Cup, as the Swiss look to seal their place in the knockout stages of the competition.

Switzerland drew 1-1 with Brazil in their opening game and recorded a late 2-1 win over Serbia in their last outing. Vladimir Petkovic’s side could go through to the knockout stages with a draw or a win.

A draw will be enough to secure a last 16 spot, as rivals Brazil and Serbia clash in the other game. For Switzerland to top the group, they will have to better Brazil’s result against Serbia, as the two teams are level on points but the South American have superior goal difference.

The Swiss have suffered just one defeat in open play in 24 outings. Their recent games have been low scoring, with under 2.5 goals scored in seven of their last nine matches. However, they have a recent mixed record at World Cups, having won three, drawn one and lost two of their six finals games.

Costa Rica have already suffered elimination from World Cup 2018 after losing their first two games in Group E. The Central American team have produced some decent displays, but have lacked the quality to gain anything from clashes with Serbia and Brazil.

Oscar Ramirez’s team have been in terrible form of late, having won just two of their last 12 international games. They have also suffered defeat in eight of their ten games. The Ticos’ recent games have been low scoring, with under 2.5 goals scored in six of their previous eight outings.

The fact that Ramirez’s has team struggled for goals of late has contributed to those low scoring games, as they have failed to score in six of their last nine outings.

Sportseconds predicts that Costa Rica will hold Switzerland to a draw in this clash, which will be enough for a knockout spot.

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International Friendly: Belgium vs Costa Rica – Lineups, Preview and Prediction

Belgium and Costa Rica round off their World Cup preparations in Brussels looking to take momentum into their opening group games in Russia.
19:45 BST, Monday 11th June, King Baudouin Stadium (Brussels, Belgium)

Roberto Martinez finishes preparations for his maiden international tournament by hosting Costa Rica at King Baudouin Stadium on Monday night.

Belgium comfortably beat Egypt 3-0 on Wednesday night, even without their injured leader Vincent Kompany. They will be looking to extend their run of four consecutive clean sheets against Los Ticos.

Reuters/JASON CAIRNDUFF

Costa Rica looked jaded at Elland Road on Thursday night after a long flight from Central America. Coach Oscar Ramirez, a diminutive midfielder in Los Ticos’ 1990 World Cup campaign, will hope his side play more like they did in the dominant 3-0 win over Northern Ireland in San Jose last weekend.

Talismanic figures Bryan Ruiz and Christian Bolanos could make long-awaited returns to the starting XI.

Belgium Lineup

Laurent Ciman had a go at deputising for Vincent Kompany against Egypt, but expect Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata to be given the nod on Monday night.

Mousa Dembele is likely to return alongside Kevin De Bruyne after being rested last time out, with Martinez wary of keeping the fragile midfielder’s body in good health.

Skipper Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens should keep their places behind the lone frontman, with Michy Batshuayi possibly being handed his first start since April 15. The Chelsea forward has recovered remarkably well from tearing his ankle ligaments and assisted Marouane Fellaini from the bench against the Egyptians.

Costa Rica Lineup

Costa Rica are built on an experienced defence, commanded by Real Madrid’s number one Keylor Navas. The back five have an average age of 29.8, and they will have to use every ounce of nous to keep out this dangerous Belgium side.

Los Ticos will hope that they can frustrate Belgium into running out of ideas and catch them on the break with their own attacking talents.

Talismanic figure Bryan Ruiz hasn’t featured yet in Costa Rica’s warm-up matches but has such pedigree within his national team, and a wand of a left foot that can be dangerous.

On the other flank, Costa Rica have the unpredictable Joel Campbell. Remarkably still an Arsenal player, Campbell will hope to put himself in the shop window this summer, but he will have to play a lot better than he did against England on Thursday night.

Key Players: Eden Hazard (Belgium) vs Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)

Hazard is an outstanding player and a vital figure in Belgium’s side. Whilst most of the attention may be on Kevin De Bruyne after his season with Manchester City, Hazard can be the man that breaks sides down this summer, starting with this game against Los Ticos.

Costa Rica’s defence is ageing and Hazard’s pace, clever movement and outstanding ability on the ball could bamboozle Cristian Gamboa, who hasn’t featured for Celtic since February.

Reuters/FRANCOIS LENOIR

It seems trite to suggest Navas as Costa Rica’s key man, being the one that plays for Real Madrid, but he really is so important.

You would imagine he will be busy against the Belgians, and his calming presence and aura can help calm those in front of him, particularly if Costa Rica’s defence come under severe pressure.

Talking Points
Can Belgium extend their run of clean sheets?

Roberto Martinez sides have never been known for their defensive solidity. Belgium however, have quietly gone on a run of four clean sheets on the bounce, ever since the more typical 3-3 draw with Mexico.

Vincent Kompany is a major doubt for the tournament after hobbling off against Mexico, so it looks like it will be Dedryck Boyata who slots in between Tottenham duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in Belgium’s back three.

This is obviously a step down in quality and leadership, but in Vertonghen and Alderweireld, Boyata will have two of the world’s very best to help him through.

How fit is Michy Batshuayi?

Having found form on loan at Dortmund, it was a sad moment when Michy Batshuayi tore his ankle ligaments in April, looking likely to miss the finals.

But after a remarkable comeback, Batshuayi has made the final 23, making his return as a half-time substitute against Egypt.

He could be given the opportunity to prove his fitness from the start against Costa Rica on Monday night. If he can, it will be a great option for Martinez,

Can Costa Rica break down a side of genuine quality?

Oscar Ramirez’s side have struggled to score against better sides and looked utterly toothless against England at Elland Road.

Reuters/PHIL NOBLE

They will lineup extremely defensively again in Russia, but they will need to show at least some threat going forward. Coming up against another side of genuine quality, it will be interesting to see if they can break the Belgian defence down.

Prediction: OVER 2.5 GOALS

Costa Rica will battle earnestly but Belgium will have too much for them in Brussels. Expect confidence boosting goals for some of Belgium’s attacking stars.

Los Ticos’ ageing defence won’t be able to cope with the pace, movement and creativity of Martinez’s Belgium.

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World Cup 2018: Costa Rica

 

Costa Rica turned heads four years ago in Brazil. The CONCACAF representative reached the quarterfinals of the tournament with some outstanding displays.

The team was just a penalty kick away from the semifinals against the Netherlands, but the Cinderella story wasn’t meant to be. Now, Oscar Ramirez’s side is back and ready to show their quarterfinal appearance in Brazil was no fluke.

The national team qualified as the second-place team in CONCACAF behind Mexico. Costa Rica posted a +6-goal difference in the final qualifying round.

The team will be considered as an outsider in Group E. The Ticos must play Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in the group stage. It is a more difficult group than what Costa Rica experienced four years ago. Then, the team played Italy, England and Uruguay. An undefeated group performance meant the Ticos finished first. This time around, it will be far more difficult to finish atop the group.

The good news for Costa Rica is they will start the tournament against Serbia. It will give the Ticos the chance to begin with a positive result before playing Brazil five days later. Costa Rica will finish the group stage against Switzerland in what should be a match that determines which team will go through to the knockout stage.

Costa Rica’s squad is made up of players plying their trades in various leagues around the world. Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas is the team’s marquee player. He will have plenty of chances to make world-class saves against Brazil in the second group stage match.

 Defence could be an issue with several players coming from second-tier football leagues. Bolongna’s Giancarlo Gonzalez is the highest profile defender. Gonzalez leads all defenders in caps with 68. Midfielder Bryan Ruiz is the team’s creator. Currently playing for Sporting Lisbon, Ruiz has excelled in England and the Netherlands as a winger and creative midfielder. Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell will be tasked with getting the team’s goals. He has 15 in 75 appearances for the national team.

Costa Rica defeated Northern Ireland in preparation for the World Cup, 3-0. The comfortable win saw Campbell play well as he finished with an assist and goal in the win. The Ticos will play two more friendlies before the World Cup kicks off. The team will take on both England and Belgium before heading to Russia. The two fixtures should give Costa Rica a better gauge of what teams at the World Cup will be like.

Ramirez’s team won’t be pushovers in group E as Costa Rica are a hard squad to beat and will fight to the end. Although unfancied to go through, Costa Rica have the chance to upset their fellow group members and make the last 16.