Costa Rica’s road out of the Group A in the Copa America Centenario will be a rather tricky one. They are in a group with host nation United States, Colombia and Paraguay.
Surprising World Cup
The Cinderella story of the 2014 World Cup without a doubt was the rise of Costa Rica. The island nation was placed in one of the Groups of Death in the tournament. Pitted against Costa Rica was England, Italy and Uruguay. No one expected Costa Rica to make much noise in this group and many thought that they would finish near the bottom of the group.
That was not the case. Costa Rica escaped as the leaders while not losing any of the three matches. In the first match against Uruguay, the South American nation had taken a first half lead. But then, three second half goals clinched victory as they won 3-1. Costa Rica would go on to defeat Italy and draw 0-0 with England while only allow one goal in the group stage of the tournament.
The knockout rounds of were another story. Costa Rica managed to beat Greece in the round of 16 on penalties. Then, they came up against the Netherlands. Against the Netherlands, neither side found the back of the net and as a result, Costa Rica went to penalties for the second straight match. This time around, they were not so lucky. The Netherlands defeated Costa Rica, ending their dream World Cup.
Keylor Navas would have been a key figure in the Costa Rica starting eleven. While Real Madrid finished second in La Liga, Navas led Los Blancos to the Champions League final. There, they ousted their city rivals, Atletico Madrid on penalty kicks. However, the Champions League winner will not be a part of the Costa Rica squad as he has torn his achilles.
Without Navas, Joel Campbell upfront will need to be an important figure for his nation. The unfortunate thing for the Arsenal man is that he does not get a lot of playing time in the English Premier League. If Campbell does make an appearance off the bench, he shows his quality to the Emirates crowd. He will use his speed to fly by would-be defenders. Campbell will put his talents on the world stage once more as he looks to cement Costa Rica’s amongst perennial contenders.
Costa Rica will be traveling a ton in Group A play. Their first match will take place in Orlando, Florida against Paraguay. Then, Costa Rica will jet off to Chicago, Illinois to face host nation USA. They will round up these set of matches in Houston, Texas, finishing up against Colombia.
Based on current squad and the form from the last World Cup, Costa Rica’s expectations will be through the roof. But with the loss of Navas, and being placed in a tough group, Costa Rica may finish in the third spot in the group. Their backline will be tested each and every match. Will their attack be potent against compact defenses? That is a question that will be answered as the tournament progresses.