2014 FIFA World Cup Preview: Costa Rica

Costa Rica qualified for their fourth World Cup finals by finishing second in the CONCACAF Hexagonal section of qualifying. They won all of their home games during qualifying, beating USA 3-1 and Mexico 2-1. However their away form was a slight concern as they failed to win a single game away from Costa Rica. Despite this, it was Costa Rica's most impressive qualifying campaign since 2002 when they won the group by six points.


Keylor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Daniel Cambronero (Herediano)

Costa Rica have arguably one of the most in form goalkeepers for the World Cup, in Keylor Navas. The Levante goalkeeper was one of the top performers in La Liga last season as he helped the Les Granotes to a 10th place finish. If Costa Rica do get out of the group, it will be down to the heroics of Navas.

Both Patrick Pemberton and Daniel Cambronero are reasonably competent back-up goalkeepers with a combined 24 caps between them. However, a lack of European experience might be a concern for Ticos.


Michael Umana (Saprissa), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05), Roy Miller (New York Redbulls), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Cristian Gamboa (Rosenborg), Heiner Mora (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Club Brugge), Kendall Watson (Saprissa), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew)

The biggest absentee from the list is Everton's Bryan Ovideo. The 24-year-old broke his leg in an FA Cup match at Stevenage and he has failed to recover in time for the World Cup. However, all is not lost for Costa Rica; 60-cap Junior Diaz can fill in at left-back for Oviedo. With experience in the Bundesliga with Mainz, he's an excellent option to cover the postion.

The centre of the Costa Rican defence should be Oscar Duarte and Michael Umana, and the pair are a good mixture of youth and experience. Duarte has enjoyed a good start to his European career with Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League, while Umana has been solid in his first season for Verano champions Saprissa. Their partnership will be essential if Costa Rica are to make an impression at the World Cup.

Cristian Gamboa should occupy the right-back slot and the 24-year-old has played 30 times for Rosenborg since joining in 2013 from Copenhagen. His pace and skill should see him act as a winger at times, with his speed being relied on heavily for counter attacks.


Celso Borges (AIK), Christian Bolanos (Copenhagen), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Carlos Hernandez (Wellington Phoenix), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Diego Calvo (Valerenga)

Swedish-based playmaker Celso Borges will be the key to Costa Rica's midfield. The 26-year-old will be expected to cover the back-four and to initiate counter attacks with his pace and skill. A big World Cup from him may seem him move to a bigger club in Europe.

The wingplay of Christian Bolanos and Diego Calvo will be essential for Costa Rica. The pair will be expected to keep counter attacks flowing with their pace and tenacity. Yet with just three international goals between them, a lot more will be needed in Brazil if Costa Rica are to qualify from the group.

22-year-old Yeltsin Tejeda is one of the few Costa Rica-based players in the squad. The Saprissa midfielder could be one of the more exciting youngsters in the tournament if he can excel in the little time he will have on the ball during the games. If he performs well, a move to Europe may beckon for him.


Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Ruiz (Fulham), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Joel Campbell (Arsenal), Marco Urena (Kuban Krasnodar)

Costa Rica are top-heavy as a side, with most of their quality players being in attack. Fulham's Bryan Ruiz comes into the tournament on the back of successful loan spell with PSV where he managed five goals in 14 games, while Joel Campbell also comes into the tournament on the back of a successful loan spell with Olympiacos in the Greek superleague.

The pair will be expected to deliver on the half-chanes Costa Rica get during their group games. Both have pace and skill in an abundance and they are both capable of terrorising any defence at the World Cup. We will see this especially in Joel Campbell, who has shown versatility and dynamism during his loan spells with Real Betis and Olympiacos.

Alvaro Saborio will also be essential to Costa Rica's attack. One of the best players in the MLS over the past few season, with an impressive record of 32 goals in 92 appearances for Costa Rica. The 32-year-old will be relied on to score the goals for Ticos.


Costa Rica have found themselves in a 'Group of Death', with three former World Cup winners. However, they will not be there to make up the numbers as some have suggested. Their opening game against Uruguay will provide a stern test, but there is no reason why they can't stifle their opponents for an opening day point. As for Italy and England, it will be interesting to see how long they keep both sides out for. Even if they don't manage to win any games, Costa Rica are guaranteed to frustrate at the World Cup.

Prediction: Despite having decent group of players, it's difficult to see Costa Rica finishing anywhere other place than last in Group D.