The final games in Group D take place tomorrow and both sides in this fixture find themselves in a somewhat unexpected situation.
Costa Rica go into the match-up with no pressure after winning convincingly and playing fast tempo, pressing football in their opening group games against Uruguay and Italy. They employ an attractive attacking mentality – zipping the ball around at pace, coupled with a superb work ethic and defending in numbers. Los Ticos find themselves at the top of Group D in a fantastic position as they have already qualified.
England have nothing but pride to play for. Their earliest exit from the World Cup since 1958 means they are already eliminated from the most prestigious of football competitions. Roy will experiment with the line-up after being told he is secure in his role for the remainder of his contracted two years. Veteran midfielder Frank Lampard is handed the armband in what may well be a much changed England side.
Jorge Luis Pinto will be utilizing his squad against England. Resting key players for the next round is commonsense and it is plausible he might be tempted to give star front man Joel Campbell a breather. Costa Rica stunted Pirlo’s magic against Italy but will be in no rush to commit any silly tackles against England with knock-out stages looming.
England have been poor in the competition and deserve to be exactly where they now find themselves, out. Roy Hodgson has set out his team not to lose in the opening two matches, and done just the opposite. His negative mentality has created a slow, unadventurous England team that have used Baines and Johnson as their main outlets despite the legs of Barkley, Lallana, Wilshere and Shaw sitting on the bench. Now that there is nothing riding on it hopefully Roy will open his mind and try to win by placing some trust in the young flair players England have at their disposal.
England entered the tournament in 10th and Costa Rica 28th in the official FIFA world rankings. We’ll see about that.
The game kicks off 13:00 local time in Belo Horizonte.