FIFA WC 2022: Spain vs Costa Rica preview & prediction | H2H records | line-up
Spain and Costa Rica will challenge each other for the best possible start to the World Cup campaign in their Group E opener on Wednesday.
Group E is one of the most hotly contested at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. As four teams Germany, Spain, Japan, and Costa Rica are capable of putting severe challenges on each other.
The 2010 edition winners have had difficulties in the last two editions of the World Cups, having been sent off in the group stage and Round of 16 in 2014 and 2018 respectively. Meanwhile, Costa Rica saw themselves running riot to the quarterfinals in 2014, which is their best performance in the finals.
The La Roja side, who have gone through difficult times in recent years has dominated from the 2008 -2012 period, lifting two Euro Cups and the World Cup in six years. However, the appointment of Luis Enrique has brought mojo back into the side filled with serious young talent, as they reached the semis of the Euro 2020.
They defeated Jordan 3-1 in the friendly on Thursday, their first game since they defeated Portugal in their UEFA Nations League tie in September. Spain are the favorites to progress into the next round, however, coach Enrique knows his team is still under work in progress.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica are a side that can seriously cause a lot of havoc on their opposition, as England and Italy found out in 2014. Head coach Luis Fernando Suarez will be managing the third World Cup, having previously led Ecuador and Honduras. The La Tricos, made their World Cup debut in 1990 reaching the Round of 16, however, in 2002, 2006, and 2018 editions, were in the group stages.
Costa Rica were the last side to qualify for the World Cup, having defeated New Zealand 1-0, and coming onto the World Cup they thrashed Nigeria 2-0 with offense and defense and worked hard for the scoreline last week. Similarly, captain Keylor Navas and his side have to put off a show against Spain, which will be a mammoth task.
Spain v Costa Rica Head To Head
Spain dominates this fixture, having two of three meetings, and one ending at a draw, as the previous three games produced a total of 12 goals. However, La Roja have never played against the CONCACAF side in the World Cup finals.
Spain have so far qualified for the World Cups 16 times, and this time at Qatar is their 12th in a row, just sitting below Brazil, Argentina, and Germany in this regard. Moreover, they have a phenomenal record in front of the goal having scored 99 goals in its FIFA World Cup history, as they eye their century of goals on Wednesday against Costa Rica.
On the other hand, Costa Rica, who topped the group ahead of Uruguay, Italy, and England in 2014, will produce a serious challenge against Spain, who has had a very poor record in the last two World Cup group stages, registering two wins in six group stage games.
Spain v Costa Team News
Valencia left-back Jose Gaya is ruled out of the tournament with an injury, with young Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde called up for his replacement. Meanwhile, defender Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to fit despite taking a knock just before the break.
The La Roja have no serious fitness concerns in the squad, as they all geared up for the Costa Rican challenge. Enrique's trusted goalkeeper Unai Simons is expected to start between the sticks, with Dani Carvajal and Jordi Alba ready to take up full-back roles and central defenders Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte to pair in the 4-3-3 system, while Barcelona trio Gavi, Sergio Busquets, and Pedri to play in the middle. Furthermore, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres are expected to partner with Alvaro Morata in the forward line.
Head coach Suarez worries about Keylor Navas's struggle with a back injury but is anticipated to be fit for the game; otherwise, he has a fully fit squad at his disposal.
Costa Rica who also plays in a 4-3-3 system, has Keylor Navas in between the sticks, with Carlos Martinez and Bryan Oviedo in the full-back role, as center-backs Francisco Calvo and Oscar Duarte are expected to partner in the back four.
Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell who has 25 goals in 119 appearances is likely to take up the left flank, with Celso Borges, who has 155 caps to his name at the right flank, and Anthony Contreras to lead the offensive line.
Spain v Costa Rica Predicted lineup
Simon; Carvajal, Laporte, P Torres, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; F Torres, Morata, Fati
Navas; C Martinez, Calvo, Duarte, Oviedo; Tejeda, Bennette, G Torres; Borges, Contreras, Campbell
Spain v Costa Rica kick-off time, and venue
The Group E match encounters on Wednesday, November 23 will kick off at 9.30 PM IST, 4:00 PM Local Time.
Al Thumama Stadium