Costa Rica – World Cup 2014 – Group D

COSTA RICA

14-June Uruguay (8pm GMT Fortaleza)

19-June Italy (5pm GMT Recife)

24-June England (5pm GMT Belo Horizonte)

Billed as the whipping boys of Group D, Mark Siglioccolo explains why Costa Rica will struggle to get a single result in the toughest group of the tournament

Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

Vastly successful at club level having collected First Division titles in Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, Jorge Pinto is yet to really transfer that pedigree to the international stage. This is the 60-year-old's second stint at the helm of Costa Rica, with the first ending in his dismissal for failing to qualify for Germany 2006. Pinto was also sacked as boss of his native Colombia for a weak qualifying campaign at the last World Cup. Nicknamed the 'Explosive One' for his touchline tantrums and fourth official pushing antics, expect to be entertained by the Coach – if only briefly…

Why they could be dangerous

Costa Rica are massive underdogs in their group, who are realistically expected to finish bottom with barely a point to their name. This lack of pressure could benefit the team ranked 34 in the world as they could be an unlikely but potential banana skin. Like Uruguay, they will be more acclimatised to the conditions than Italy and England, while Joel Campbell is one to watch in their attack and Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz will be keen to showcase his flamboyant style.

The world on his shoulders: Joel Campbell

Arsene Wenger has been made to wait on the player he signed for Arsenal back in 2011 after he was initially refused a visa. He has since been on loan to Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiacos, with mixed success. It is his international record that is impressive and may sew a seed of doubt in the minds of their opponents as the pacey attacker has nine goals in 31 caps.

Did you know?

Costa Rica are the most successful team in Central America, and the third in CONCACAF after Mexico and USA. They are three time CONCACAF champions and seven time UNCAF Nations Cup champions, but they have never gotten past the Round of 16 in a World Cup.

Country legend: Walter Centeno

Former attacking midfielder and Costa Rica captain Walter Centeno was a stalwart of the national side for 14 years. He easily surpassed the number of caps set by the now assistant boss Luis Marin to set a record of 137. Now 39, Centeno looks to pass his knowledge on to a squad consisting of some young inexperienced talent, just like he once was.

Formation: 4-4-2

Costa Rica are expected to lose but they will not just roll over. On their day they have proven in the past capable of producing some pretty neat intricate attacking play, yet on other occasions they can look toothless. If they can take advantage of what should be higher fitness levels compared to their opponents, an upset may just be on the cards.

Costa Rica versus…

…Uruguay P8 W0 D2 L6 F8 A15

…England P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0

…Italy P1 W0 D0 L1 F0 A1

Stats

Population: 4.6 million

World Cup appearances: 3

Best finish: Round of 16, Italy 1990

Famous for: Advancing with Brazil from Italia ’90 Group C after beating Scotland and Sweden on their World Cup debut.

Top Division: Primera Division de Costa Rica

How they got to the World Cup: Second in CONCACAF qualifying

FIFA World Ranking: 34

Last World Cup Appearance: Germany 2006 – Group Stage

Continental Honours: CONCACAF champions in 1969 and 1989, UNCAF Nations Cup champions in 1991, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2013 

Most Capped Player: Walter Centeno (137 caps)

Leading International Scorer: Rolando Fonseca (47 Goals)

Nickname: Ticos