Despite a sticky start to their qualification - winning just one of seven matches at the half-way mark - Costa Rica secured qualification for the World Cup at the expense of New Zealand, who they edged past in the inter-confederation play-offs thanks to a Joel Campbell goal.
The second half of qualifying saw a run of six wins in seven to edge them past Panama and into the play-off spots, meaning they will travel Qatar hopeful of being able to pull off an upset or two.
They have history of that, having qualified for five of the last six World Cups and are the only CONCACAF team to have appeared in a World Cup quarter-final in the last two decades.
They exited at the group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2018, but it was in 2014 that they achieved their finest hour after beating both Uruguay and Italy before drawing with England, knocking out Greece on penalties before losing to Netherlands.
Drawn in a group with Spain, Germany and Japan, it is expected to be a tough tournament for the south American side.
Costa Rica World Cup 2022 Tips
Read the latest Costa Rica odds ahead of the World Cup, including their odds to win the tournament, odds to claim the golden boot, 101 Great Goals’ top tip and more 2022 World Cup predictions and tips.
Costa Rica World Cup Predictions
Despite their impressive run of form in qualifying and their run to the quarter-finals in 2014, it is expected to be a tough tournament for Costa Rica, who will do well to gain a point never mind qualify.
Costa Rica Golden Boot Prediction
Bennette is a recent international for Costa Rica, with just two goals in seven appearances prior to the World Cup. But having joined Sunderland in the summer of 2022, his star is on the rise and he will be looking to make a name for himself.
Luis Fernando Suárez
Luis Fernando Suárez is a very experienced manager at international level, taking over the Costa Rican national team in June 2021, ahead of the most recent Gold Cup.
The 62-year-old led Ecuador to the round of 16 at World Cup in 2006, and was in charge of Honduras in Brazil eight years later. Suárez is very pragmatic which, given who they’re up against, is probably for the best.
His Costa Rica team usually operate out of a standard 4-2-3-1 shape, with the midfield pairing, usually Yeltsin Tejeda and Celso Borges, very much shielding the back-line. More broadly, this team are at an interesting point of their evolution.
The core group from 2014 are still around, namely Borges, Keylor Navas, Bryan Oviedo, Kendall Waston, Óscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell. However, they also have a few young players, some of whom shone against USA in March, looking to takeover these spots, including 18-year-old winger Jewison Bennette, who’s recently joined Sunderland, and Anthony Contreras, who scored in each of their last two CONCACAF qualifiers, prime examples.
Total appearances: 5
First qualification: 1990
Most recent: 2018
Best achievement: Quarter-finals (2014)
World Ranking: 31
Overall record: P18, W5, D5, L8
The undisputed star of this team, and best Costa Rican footballer of all-time, is Keylor Navas.
He won 12 major honours with Real Madrid, including three Champions Leagues, and has subsequently added seven more winners medals to his collection with Paris Saint-Germain. A concern might be that the 35-year-old hasn’t played a single minute for les Rouge-et-Bleu this season, and missed Costa Rica’s two friendlies in September due to a back injury.
Nevertheless, he is expected to add to his 107 International caps in Qatar at his third, and probably last, World Cup. One game is a small sample size, of course, but take Costa Rica’s trip to Columbus last October as an example. At half-time, with the score 1-1, USA having equalised thanks to an absolute pile-driver, Navas is replaced by Leonel Moreira due to injury. The U.S. then snatch victory, thanks to a calamitous error by the back-up goalkeeper.
This, if it wasn’t already apparent, underlines Navas’ importance, particularly given that his team will be underdogs in all three group games.
101′s Costa Rica World Cup Tip
The draw certainly hasn’t been kind to Costa Rica, finding themselves in Group E alongside Spain, Japan and Germany; their fixtures taking place in that order.
Costa Rica are priced at 1/2 to finished bottom of the group, which looks like a pretty safe bet. They’re also priced at 9/4 to end up with zero points, a fate they’ve only endured once before, this in 2006, when they also met Germany.
Since the competition was expanded to 32 teams for France ‘98, 15 countries, an average of 2.5 per competition, have gone home without a point to their name.
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