Costa Rica will face the World Cup with great hope
The experienced “Ticos” will try to repeat in Russia 2018 the great success achieved in Brazil 2014
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When talking about game management, it is tough to find a better national squad than Costa Rica. A perennial World Cup participant that will compete on its fourth tournament in the last five editions, the Centro American country improved progressively until achieving a milestone in Brazil 2014 by reaching the quarterfinals’ round.
The feat tied the record for the best World Cup participation by a CONCACAF nation with Mexico (1986) and the United States (2002).
Costa Rica’s great achievement was not only a one-day wonder. It was the result of very hard work. Under the guidance of Colombian head coach Jorge Luis Pinto “Los Ticos” established a rock solid defensive system that included five defenders, four midfielders and only one lonely forward. Instead of being tiresome, the style of play generated many attacking opportunities with excellent fast breaks always managed by the art of offensive midfielder Bryan Ruiz, who has been delivering for many years in European clubs first in The Netherlands and later in Portugal.
In the 2014 World Cup, thanks to owning one of the best goalkeepers in the world Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas, who has won the last two Champions Leagues, and good strategy plays that took advantage of a its tall men, Costa Rica defeated soccer powerhouses Uruguay and Italy in the group round.
Then “Los Ticos” were a penalty away from reaching the semifinals, but lost cruelly to the Dutch despite not allowing a single goal in 120 minutes of regulation.
A year later, local coach Óscar Ramírez was called to replace Pinto. Following the saying if ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Ramírez strengthened Costa Rica’s game. Results were spectacular. The Costa Ricans easily qualified for the World Cup, delivering a lethal blow to Team USA by crashing the Americans, 4-0, in San José and defeating them again, 2-0, in Harrison, New Jersey, with two goals by Marcos Ureña.
The draw for Russia 2018 was not a good one for Costa Rica. “Los Ticos” share Group E with Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland. But the Costa Ricans face the challenge calmly. They know how to survive a “Death Group”. Everything they do this upcoming summer will only add to the legend of a national team that is already acknowledged as the best ever in the history of Centro American soccer.