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Team-by-team guide: 2022 Costa Rica World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here's the Costa Rica World Cup 2022 preview. Los Ticos will play in Group E against Spain, Germany and Japan.

Costa Rica World Cup Preview 2022

World Cup appearances: 6th

Best finish: Quarterfinals (2014)  

How They Got Here: Los Ticos missed a direct ticket to Qatar after finishing fourth in Concacaf qualifiers with the same quantity of points as the USMNT (25) but a worse goal difference (+5 vs. +11). In the intercontinental playoff, they beat New Zealand 1-0 and secured their spot.

Coach: Luis Fernando Suárez (Colombian)

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Strongest XI: (4-4-2) Keylor Navas; Keysher Fuller, Óscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo, Bryan Oviedo; Gerson Torres, Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Jewison Bennette; Joel Campbell, Anthony Contreras

Injuries: Juan Pablo Vargas (ankle, questionable)

Although it's not an injury, FIFA has provisionally suspended player Orlando Galo after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. The defender is set to miss the World Cup.

What's to like: Costa Rica is not here to promise the latest attacking revolution. No. Los Ticos know their limitations and try to overcome them with a grittiness that's worth admiring. Don't forget that grittiness took them to the quarterfinals at Brazil 2014.

Although it didn't help a lot last time around in Russia, the toughness of their backline showed up again in qualifying to bring the team to another World Cup.

Many of the veterans of the past campaigns are still punching (Navas, Duarte, Borges, Ruiz) and it'll be interesting to see what tweaks Suárez is planning to harness that defensive toughness into transitions towards the opponent's half.

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Joel Campbell didn't have a successful career in Europe, but he's always been a menace while wearing the Costa Rica jersey and he's going to be around again. On the other hand, the emergence of forward Anthony Contreras brings an extra dose of hope.

What's not to like: That same grittiness we talked about before is also not very palatable for casual viewers. Costa Rica doesn't concede many goals, but they don't score a lot either. In other words, their games could be a huge drag. 

Proof of this is that eight of the 14 games they played in qualifying ended up with no more than one goal on the scoreboard: three ended 0-0 and five 1-0 (three wins, two defeats). 

X-Factor: It's hard not to choose Keylor Navas.

The goalkeeper is a sub at PSG, but the experience, the titles and the skills are all still there. He's the five-star general of this squad and his mere presence guarantees a couple good saves per game. 

Best hair: Kendall Waston

Most likely to fuck it all up: A penalty or own goal. Although Suárez has been working on this, the defense still sometimes gets too eager trying to clear a ball, creating this kind of misfortune.  

What will make this a good World Cup: Round of 16.

Bonus prediction: Anthony Contreras will go to MLS or Europe after the World Cup. 

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