Costa Rica: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Best Ever Finish: Last 16 (1990)
Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto
Captain: Bryan Ruiz
Los Ticos were pretty impressive throughout their qualifying campaign. They finished in second place in the CONCACAF hexagonal stage and in doing so progressed to Brazil with relative ease.
Under their boss Pinto, they play variations of a system which is focused around three central defenders, with the team flexible in whether they play a flat-back five or three centre-back’s and a pair of wingbacks.
In qualifying, this system gave way to a pretty stingy defence. The best defensive record in CONCACAF qualifying in fact, as Pinto’s team conceded just seven goals in their ten group games. They’re tough to beat too, with the only two games they fell to defeat in being tough tests away against the United States and Honduras.
Pinto will feel he has something to prove in what is his second spell as Costa Rica boss. He was relieved of duties in his previous spell back in 2005 despite overseeing the countries successful qualification for the 2006 World Cup.
He has fashioned a distinctive, solid and progressive young team ahead of next summer’s showpiece. But for all their defensive qualities, Costa Rica must find a goal scoring touch if they are to match their sterling effort from 1990.
If the elusive Brian Ruiz and dynamic Joel Campbell are at their best, they could shock a few.
Key Player – Bryan Ruiz
During his time at Fulham, Ruiz has shown glimpses of some real quality. But in truth, given his ability it is infuriating how the Costa Rica captain drifts in and out of games.
In this Costa Rica team, Ruiz takes on the brunt of the creative responsibility. He typically operates from the right-hand-side of a four man midfield but is given license to drift about the pitch and influence the game.
At his best, he is a tremendously elegant player with a refined dribbling style and cultured left-foot. At his worst, he is anonymous. A motivated and involved Ruiz is tantamount for a successful Costa Rican showing.