GROUP D
Costa Rica

THE 60-SECOND OVERVIEW

Facing England, Uruguay and Italy (seven World Cup trophies between them) is not exactly what the Ticos hoped for. That they arrive in Brazil with no pressure on them is scant consolation, but defying the three defeats that the football world has already chalked them down for can be some motivation.

Costa Rica have the cheapest squad of the tournament, with a total value of €20.8m, but they are helmed by the bargain-basement Mourinho, keen to shock the world. “The country recognises me, the country admires me, the entire world acknowledges me,” brags Jorge Luis Pinto. “I’m one of the best 32 managers of the world”. Grab a result or two here and he may live up to his own hype.

THE DREAM

Do a Greece and shock people. The unlikely Euro 2004 winners have already been cited by Pinto as a reminder that football should never be predicted. The Colombian can be very strict when it comes to player discipline, and he will go into the three games with a clear tactical plan: catenaccio style at the back and pray for a goal from a miraculous counter-attack.

An admirer of Carlos Bilardo and Diego Simeone, he will want his team to get on the opposition’s nerves wherever possible. The more the big names rise to this, the bigger the impact Costa Rica can have.

THE NIGHTMARE

Fail to have a crack. Leaving the competition without a point would still be embarassing. For a country that once made it to the round of 16 (1990) and nearly did it again in 2002 (they got four points but lost to Turkey on goal difference) thanks to their attractive, attacking style, a potential exit using an ultra-defensive approach is not a welcome thought. Unfortunately there aren’t any easy games this time – so Costa Rica have little real option other than sitting back and hoping for the best.

THE STATS
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WIN AN ECO AWARD: BRYAN RUIZ

The Fulham player loaned to Eindhoven became one of his country’s ambassadors for WWF initiative “The Hour of the Planet” – and the Costa Rica captain is eager to switch off as many lights as possible in their Santos training camp to set a green example.

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Break some famous hearts: Keylor Navas

In 2013/14 for Levante, Navas made more saves than anyone else in Europe's top five leagues, repelling more than 80% of shots on target. Only five goalkeepers in those leagues, three of whom were crowned champions, kept more clean sheets. Navas could provoke some rueful head-shakes from big-name strikers.

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ASK FOR SWAPSIES: JOEL CAMPBELL

Arsenal’s 21-year-old forward, on loan at Olympiakos, is a Panini nut – but recently got frustrated when he bought 100 packets of the World Cup edition and couldn’t find a single sticker of himself.

DID YOU KNOW?

Costa Rica will top AT LEAST one table: they’re the national team with the most sponsors, a grand total of 35 endorsers. Bosnia are second (28), Italy third (19).

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Nobody gives them a prayer, but that might suit Costa Rica. They'll dig deep and defend and might frustrate a big team or two along the way.