Costa Rica played well to qualify, but it is unlikely they will repeat their 2014 heroics.

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Costa Rica World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

Costa Rica vs Serbia (17th June) Match Report

The first game of the day sees 2014 heroes Costa Rica go up against Serbia. Match preview here. 

Costa Rica Starting XI: 1 Jesus Navas, 2 Johnny Acosta, 3 Giancarlo Gonzalez, 5 Celso Borges, 6 Oscar Duarte, 10 Bryan Ruiz, 11 Johan Venegas (7 Christian Bolanos 60), 15 Francisco Calvo, 16 Cristian Gamboa, 20 David Guzman (9 Daniel Colindres 73, 21 Marco Urena (12 Joel Campbell 67)

Serbia Starting XI: 1 Vladimir Stojkovic, 2 Dusko Tosic, 4 Luka Milivojevic, 6 Branislav Ivanovic, 9 Aleksandar Mitrovic, 10 Dusan Tadic (2 Antonio Rukavina 82), 11 Aleksandar Kolarov, 15 Nikola Milenkovic (8 Aleksandar Prijovic 89), 20 Sergej Milinkovic-Savic21 Nemanja Matic, 22 Adam Ljajic (17 Filip Kostic 70)

Samara

Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1

Scorers:

Costa Rica: none

Serbia: Kolarov 56

Match overview

A stunning free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov sealed victory for Serbia in their opening match of the tournament. Serbia should have won by a bigger margin but Aleksandar Mitrovic and the otherwise impressive Sergej Milinkovic-Savic but could not find a way past keeper Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica had an early chance when an unmarked Giancarlo Gonzalez headed over but they rarely threatened the Serbia goal after that. Two of their senior stars, Christian Bolanos and Joel Campbell, were brought on in the second half but they could not find the equaliser.

Matter of fact

Branislav Ivanovic made his 104th senior appearance for Serbia, overtaking Dejan Stankovic (103) to become his country’s most capped player.

Talking point

Serbia’s captain Kolarov had been an injury doubt before the game, and pulled up early in the second half, but he stepped up to take the free-kick that sealed the win for Serbia.

Stats

Costa Rica/Serbia

Possession: 50/50

Goal attempts: 10/10

Attempts on target: 3/5

Corners: 5/4

Fouls: 18/15

Pass accuracy: 83/83

Distance covered: 107/109

Costa Rica World Cup Guide

After a 2018 World Cup qualifying phase with its fair share of ups and downs, and some very disappointing results in the latest friendlies, there’s a fear in Costa Rica that the team is not up to the standards they set in Brazil 2014 and that their “golden generation” has already seen its best years pass. The team qualified with two games to spare, but their only victories in the CONCACAF Hexagonal were against the two teams that didn’t even make the play-offs: USA and Trinidad & Tobago.

Key Moments in Qualifying 

Nov 2016
A great start to the final qualifying round, with victories away to Trinidad & Tobago (2-0) and at home to the USA (4-0). However, they would be the only teams they would beat in the tournament.
Mar 2017
A 2-0 defeat in Mexico and a 1-1 draw away to Honduras put the team second in the group.
Sep 2017
Two goals from Marcos Urena earn Costa Rica a first-ever win in the United States.
Oct 2017
Costa Rica qualify for a second consecutive World Cup but the success has a bitter-sweet flavour as it comes on the back of a three-match winless streak.

Costa Rica World Cup Group

Costa Rica are in Group E alongside Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia.

Costa Rica World Cup Friendlies

Costa Rica played against Scotland on the 23rd of March and secure a 1-0 victory. They then lost to Tunisia by the same scoreline on the 27th. They beat Northern Ireland 3-0 but lost to England 2-0 yesterday. They then lost 4-1 to Belgium.

  • 23rd March – Scotland (won 1-0)
  • 27th March – Tunisia (lost 1-0)
  • 3rd June – Northern Ireland (won 3-0)
  • 7th June – England (lost 2-0)
  • 11th June – Belgium (lost 4-1)

Costa Rica World Cup Fixtures

Costa Rica play the first game of group E against Serbia on the 17th of June. Brazil follow five days later, and then Switzerland five days later.

The Coach

Oscar Ramirez, age 52 (08.12.64)
Appointed in October 2015, after previous coach Paulo Wanchope resigned, “The Machillo” was a standout midfielder and part of the Costa Rica side that played at the 1990 World Cup. After his retirement he became technical assistant at Saprissa and the national team, and was then coach of Santos de Guapiles and Alajuelense – where he won five league titles.

Player: Ramirz was a former midfielder for Costa Rica, he had played at the 1990 World Cup (Getty Images)

The Players
Stars
For some time Costa Rica have relied on their three European-based stars: Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell. Today, just one is a starter in an elite team, while the loss of form and injuries mean the other two have struggled to play regularly.
Stalwarts
Many of those who surprised the world in Brazil 2014 have kept their place in the squad. Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte, Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Christian Bolanos and Marcos Urena form an experienced backbone.
Missing
Striker Alvaro Saborio, who missed Brazil 2014 with injury, retired from international football in 2016.

Costa Rica World Cup Squad

Final World Cup Squad –

GOALKEEPERS: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Leonel Moreira (Herediano).

DEFENDERS: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Norrkoping), Ronald Matarrita (New York City), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Aguilas Dorados).

MIDFIELDERS: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (New York City), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Daniel Colindres, Christian Bolanos (both Saprissa).

FORWARDS: Johan Venegas (Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (Los Angeles FC).

Costa Rica World Cup Injuries

We will update you with injuries regularly

Reliant: Costa Rica will be heavily reliant on Keylor Navas (Getty Images)

The Unanswered Questions

Will the stars be back on time?
Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz were both going through rough patches of form before getting injuries. They have been instrumental for Costa Rica in recent years.

Poor Form: Campbell has had a run of bad form and injuries. Can he improve it before the Cup begins? (Getty Images)

Where is the generational change?
It was hoped that players such as Jimmy Marin, Randall Leal and Gerson Torres, all aged 20, would make the step up to the senior team, but they do not seem to be remotely close to doing so.

Is it possible to reverse the recent run of bad form?
Although no one expected Costa Rica to perform as they did in Brazil, it was clear that the team had a positive momentum in the build-up to the tournament, which is not the case this time. They have not played well in recent matches and the friendly defeats against Spain (5-0) and Hungary (1-0) are worrying.

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