Costa Rica: Navas, Gamboa, Diaz Campbell, Miller, Gonzalez, Duarte, Ruiz, Borges, Campbell, Tejeda Valverde, Brenes
Greece: Glykos, Torosidis, Holebas, Karagounis, Manolas, Papastathopoulos, Salpingidis, Maniatis, Samaras, Samaris, Christodoulopoulos
Captain Kostas Katsouranis will be available again after serving a suspension in the previous match, while Panagiotis Kone is a doubt.
Costa Rica and Greece will clash in Recife on Sunday in a battle of the tournament outsiders.
Costa Rica emerged as the surprise team of the World Cup thus far. Los Ticos managed to shock the entire football world, topping the ultimate Group of Death of the tournament by beating Uruguay and Italy, and holding England to a draw, en route to a Round of 16 qualification. Jorge Luis Pinto’s side have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for only the second time in their history; the first was in 1990 when they eventually lost 4-1 against Czechoslovakia in the last 16.
The Greeks have quite a story to tell themselves. After losing 0:3 to Colombia in their opening game and drawing with Japan many assumed the Greek episode in Brazil has come to its conclusion. However a dramatic win against the Ivory Coast in their final matchday has seen Fernando Santos’ side progress to the second round for the first time in its history.
Georgios Samaras showed he has nerves of steel when his team was awarded a penalty kick in the dying minutes of Monday’s fixture, and he stepped up to take it knowing an entire nation’s fate lies on his shoulders. His winning goal ended his personal goalscoring drought of 1478 minutes with the national team.
Despite Greece’s infamous defensive reputation, manager Santos believes they have shown the world they can also attack and play offensively: “We showed against Ivory Coast how well we can defend but also how good we can be in attack. We created a lot of chances and we kept attacking until the end. Even when we conceded the 74th-minute equaliser, we continued to attack,” said the 59 year old.
Costa Rica arrive as the slight favourites, but with the Greek defence always lined up perfectly, it’s hard to tell whether
Jorge Luis Pinto can continue his style of play against a side which barely allows any space within 20 yards of the box. Then again, neither did Italy and Costa Rica still emerged victorious.
Look for Costa Rica to be in charge of the style of play and seek to attack right away, while the Greeks will hope they can find the gaps in the Costa Rican team and capitalise on them.
101GG Prediction: Costa Rica 1 – Greece 0
Some essential facts and stats to help with online betting:
This will be the first ever meeting between Costa Rica and Greece.
The last team from CONCACAF to go further than the last 16 at the World Cup are the USA in 2002.
Greece’s seven wins at major tournaments have never been by more than one clear goal (four 1-0 and three 2-1 wins).
Greece have only won two of their nine World Cup games, both against African sides (v Nigeria in 2010 & Ivory Coast in 2014).
Greece have scored in only two of their nine games at the World Cup (the two 2-1 wins v Nigeria & Ivory Coast).
Greece have only kept one clean sheet in nine World Cup games, against Japan in 2014 (0-0).
Costa Rica are yet to concede a goal from open play at this World Cup, the only one they have let in being Edinson Cavani’s penalty.
None of Costa Rica’s four goals at this World Cup have been scored before the 44th minute.
Meanwhile, each of Greece’s four goals in World Cup history have been scored from the 42nd minute onwards.
Costa Rica have surrendered possession in each of their three games so far at this World Cup, their highest ratio being 44.4% against Uruguay.
Samaras’ penalty against Ivory Coast is his only shot on target so far at this World Cup (270 minutes played).
Joel Campbell was involved in two of Costa Rica’s four goals at this World Cup (1 goal, 1 assist).
Keylor Navas has saved seven of the eight shots on target he’s faced in this World Cup.