Greece and Costa Rica have a combined total of just seven victories in the history of the World Cup, with the Central American side qualifying for the first time in 1990 and the Europeans in 1994. Not many expected either one of them to reach the quarter finals but after today’s match in the Arena Pernambuco, Recife, that’s exactly what the outcome will be… a greatly unfancied side will be considered one of the best eight teams in world soccer.
Now the question is who will succeed? The defensive resilience and team spirit of Greece? Or the creativity and hard work of the Costa Ricans?
Greece will most likely line up once more in a 4-3-3 formation, which on losing possession becomes a 4-5-1 with the forward players being given strict defensive and covering duties. Their back four picks itself with the impressive central pairing of Kostas Manolas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos flanked by Jose Holebas and AS Roma’s Vasilis Torosidis. Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis is expected to start even though he exited Greece’s last match prematurely with a back injury.
In midfield, Katsouranis may return in place of skipper Giorgios Karagounis after serving a one-match suspension. Andreas Samaris, a goalscorer against the Ivory Coast, may start ahead of an injured Kone whilst a front three of Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Giorgios Samaras and Dimitrios Salpingidis may very well feature as Theofanis Gekas has failed to impress in previous matches and Konstantinos Mitroglou’s injury frustrations continue.
Costa Rica will most likely be set up with a back three in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Bryan Ruiz and F.C. Copenhagen’s Christian Bolanos roaming behind lone striker Joel Campbell who has truly impressed in Brazil this summer. The same line up used against Italy is expected with Junior Diaz and Christian Gamboa providing the width and the hard-working central midfield pairing of Yeltsin Tejeda and Celso Borges. Levante’s Keylor Navas, a revelation in Spain’s La Liga recently, will win his 57th cap.
Greece’s defensive resolve coupled by their team spirit may, in my opinion, prove to be just enough to help them get past Costa Rica who are being viewed as favorites.
Greece 1 – 0 Costa Rica
Greece Starting XI (predicted):
Costa Rica Starting XI (predicted):