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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Sports Thread #2/World Cup 2-A Days Team Runthrough #2 For 5/27/14: Los Ticos Will Be Getting Many Ay Dios Mios In June

Costa Rica Runthrough  

Photo from EFE

Projected Staring XI: 

                  Navas 
Gamboa Umana Gonzalez Miller 
                   Borges 
              Diaz Tejada 
                  Ureña (Ruiz) 

     Campbell  Ruiz (Saborio

Runthrough

When it comes to playing away from the great home confines of San Jose, the troubles are very prevalent for Costa Rica. 

A sound 1-0 defeat in Sydney, Australia at the hands of the Socceroos last fall, in which Jorge Luis Pinto's squad could only muster one good chance there, represented how Costa Rica would struggle to even get to the knockout stages of a World Cup for only the second time in its history. 

Then their Brazil 2014 group was revealed in December, and, well, they might as well start preparing those hopes of getting beyond a group stage for Russia 2018. But that news of seeing England, Italy, and Uruguay alongside them in Group D seemed like great tidings compared to seeing star Everton leftback Brian Oviedo suffer a terrible  double break to his tibia and fibula in an FA Cup 4th Round match vs Stevenage in January. The tragic blow at the hands of a ridiculous tackle from Simon Heslop ensured that the small CONCACAF county would be without their best defender for the tournament. And it changed the narrative to whether Costa Rica would be a fine spoiler for their three heavyweights to now seeing which team will score the most goals for them. 

Matters haven't been that much better for the other standout Bryan in the squad, Ruiz. After not getting playing time with then Fulham manager Martin Jol, Ruiz had to go on loan to PSV and get the sharpness required of Los Tocos' defacto playmaker for Joel Campbell, Marco Urena, and Alvaro Saborio. It was a nice return to the Eredivisie league that made him a star figure during his time at Twente, but Ruiz netting five goals for the Eindhoven giants won't strike any fear in the English opponents who know his game, nor will it Cesare Prandelli or Oscar Tabarez's final 23. 

Still, Costa Rica will always be a decent technical side that won't be scared to play football, and their front six does have positive reputations. Box to box midfielder Celso Borges is a fine link man in the middle with drive and deserves to play in a better league than the Allsvenskan. 

After a year in the Bundesliga wilderness, Junior Diaz has gotten consistent playing time and closed his 2013-14 campaign nicely for a Mainz team that had a fine 7th place season, earning a Europa League berth. Yeltsin Tejeda, part of the young duo with Campbell expected to be the figures for this Costa Rican side for the next decade, certainly should end his days at domestic powerhouse Saprissa with a sound showing in Brazil with the bite he brings as a holder. 

Campbell, though still very inconsistent, showed throughout the year for Olympiacos that he does have a chance of being a factor at Arsenal with his quality touch, good pace, and decent finishing ability. Plus Saborio isn't scared of anyone and will finish chances no matter if the goalkeeper is a backup MLS netminder or Gigi Buffon (although he could easily be a 12th man as Marco Urena may take the playmaking role from Ruiz and bump Saborio to the bench). 

And Pinto can always call upon a solid core of Costa Rican veterans on the bench ready to contribute in anyway in what will likely be their last World Cup. Scandinavian based duo Christian Bolanos and Michael Barrantes, and A-league luminary Carlos Hernandez will surely play a significant role when their nation will required needed jots of fresh legs.  

But for Costa Rica to even get a point in this group, they are going to need one of La Liga BBVA's top shot stoppers in Keylor Navas to bring his fine form from Levante into the entire month of June. Navas could further place himself available for bigger clubs in the aftermath of him almost costing Atletico Madrid their long awaited Spanish title with a Man of the Match display in the Valencia club's 1-0 victory three weeks ago. 

With Oviedo out, Navas, LA Galaxy failure Michael Umaña, Rosenborg right back Cristian Gamboa and MLS defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Roy Miller will need the performances of their lives to prevent embarrassment. They showed in their  last match, 2-1 victory over non CONMEBOL qualifiers Paraguay, that they have the capabilities up top to cause their much more heralded Group D adversaries some problems. 


But, that was back in San Jose. And you already know how the story goes from there. 

Under the Radar, Important Players: 

Yeltsin Tejeda- As mentioned at the top, Costa Rica is hoping that this is the first of several World Cups for the talented Saprissa midfielder, and how he will have to be the key main link up for the front three. Although Tejeda is not afraid to show a "destroyer's mentality," he is better adapt at the deep lying playmaking phase with his ability to develop decent long passes. And although Costa Rica will be mostly on the back foot, he will not be afraid to venture into an opponent's box and show a striker's finishing touch. 
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