Brazil vs Costa Rica – Friday, June 22, 13:00BST/14:00CEST/15:00 MSK – Saint Petersburg-Stadium, St. Petersburg, Russia
“We retreated a bit too much, which is not the Brazilian way,” Brazil head coach Tite said after the match against Switzerland. “We have to be more concentrated and focused”, Tite added. Tite had a point Brazil did not pressure a Switzerland side on the backfoot after conceding the opening goal. This allowed the Swiss to get back into the match and ultimately claim a valuable point.
It is a mistake Brazil are unlikely to repeat when they face Costa Rica on matchday 2 in St. Petersburg. Costa Rica were one of the surprise packages four years ago, and the tiny Concacaf nations are one of the best organised national teams on the planet. At the same time, the Ticos struggled against Serbia on matchday 1 and were eventually undone by an Aleksandar Kolarov freekick that secured Serbia the three points.
As a result, Costa Rica have it all to play for on matchday 2. Los Ticos will have to go for at least a point to have an outside chance of making out of this group on the final matchday against Switzerland.
“From what I have seen in the dressing room, the players still believe in our opportunities. It will be of course difficult. But who knows maybe we can get the most out of the Brazil game?”, Óscar Ramírez told the media after the Serbia game. At the same time Costa Rica will now face one of the toughest opponents at this tournament, who are unlikely to repeat the mistakes made against Switzerland, and, as a result, Costa Rica’s Cinderella story from last year is unlikely to be repeated.
Brazil vs Costa Rica – Players to look out for:
Philippe Coutinho #11 – Brazil (Barcelona)
The Barcelona attacking-midfielder was the best player on the pitch on matchday 1. Furthermore, with fitness concerns surrounding Neymar, the Brazilian star trained on Wednesday, Coutinho could be the most important player on the pitch on Friday for Brazil. Playing in a four-man midfield Coutinho’s role for the Seleção is to play like a box-to-box attacking number eight, and against Costa Rica, the Barcelona midfielder will try to keep the pace up to ensure that Brazil will not lose focus like it was the case against Switzerland.
Marcos Ureña #21 – Costa Rica (Los Angeles FC)
Marcos Ureña is once again expected to lead the attack for Costa Rica. The LAFC forward has worked hard over the last four years to become Los Ticos’ primier forward. Ureña was left off the scoresheet against Serbia, and the task does not get easier as he now faces a world-class backline in the form of Brazil.
Brazil vs Costa Rica – Match Stats
- Brazil have won nine out of ten matches against Costa Rica – the only defeat came in a friendly in March 1960.
- Brazil will face each other for the third time at a World Cup. Brazil won the first match at World Cup 1990 1-0 and then the second match at the 2002 FIFA World Cup 5-2.
- Costa Rica have only won one match against South American opposition – four years ago against Uruguay. Before that, they lost three matches against South American opposition.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Brazil vs Costa Rica – 3-1
Brazil vs Costa Rica – Lineups
Alisson – Marcelo, Miranda, Silva, Danilo – Casemiro – Neymar, Coutinho, Paulinho, Willian – Gabriel Jesus
Head Coach: Tite
Navas – Calvo, Gonzalez, Duarte, Acosta, Gamboa – Venegas, Guzman, Borges, Ruiz – Ureña
Head Coach: Óscar Ramírez
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.