The road to Rio begins for Uruguay and Costa Rica at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. This is an incredibly important match for each side, with the next two games being against top European squads in the form of England and Italy. It’s always important to get the tournament off on the right foot, but especially in this group, which if it weren’t for Group G, would be the Group of Death.
Uruguay are the heavy favorites with the better players, proximity to their home, superior World Cup history and the experience playing in Brazil last summer at the Confederations Cup where they finished fourth (losing to Group D opponent Italy in the consolation match). They almost didn’t make it to Brazil having to win an intercontinental playoff against Jordan to secure their place in this tournament.
Costa Rica come into this game on a bad run of form having won only one game this calendar year (a 2-1 win against Paraguay) and winless in five of their last six matches overall. Costa Rica’s last trip to the World Cup was a forgettable one at Germany 2006 when they failed get a single point and finished bottom of the group. They finished 2nd in qualifying in CONCACAF behind the USA.
Injuries are playing a big part of this tournament for each side. Costa Rica will be without one of their best players. Alavaro Sabario, who led Costa Rica in goal scoring during qualifying with 8 goals, will miss the entire tournament with a foot injury. On the other side the big question mark is the health of superstar Luis Suarez who is recovering from knee surgery. Suarez led all of CONMEBOL in goal scoring in qualifying with 11 goals.
Group D is a wide-open group. England and Italy are obvious contenders every tournament and Uruguay are a very good side capable of making a run to the semis. Costa Rica are a good side as well, but are probably on the outside looking in at this point. Any one of these four teams has the ability to advance to the knockout rounds of the competition. The winner of this game, if there is one, puts themselves into a very strong position moving forward. The loser, again if there is one, will have major work to do.
Players to watch:
Uruguay – GK Fernando Muslera, D Maxi Pereira, F Diego Forlan, F Edinson Cavani, F Luis Suarez
Costa Rica – GK Keylor Navas. MF Celso Borges, F Joel Campbell, F Bryan Ruiz
Kickoff: 3pm ET
TV: ABC and Univision
Prediction: Uruguay 3 Costa Rica 1
SEE MORE — Everything you need to know about the World Cup.