Costa Rica and Serbia will be looking for an early advantage in Group E

Costa Rica and Serbia will be looking for an early advantage in Group E

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Costa Rica vs Serbia – Sunday, June 17, 13:00BST/14:00CEST/15:00 MSK – Samara Arena, Samara, Russia

Costa Rica vs Serbia will take place at the Samara Arena (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Costa Rica vs Serbia will take place at the Samara Arena (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Day four of the FIFA World Cup will take us to Samara where Costa Rica will face Serbia in Group E. With Brazil facing Switzerland later that day both Costa Rica and Serbia will attempt to get an early advantage by collecting all three points.

Costa Rica turned heads four years ago where Los Ticos managed to reach the quarterfinal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It was one of the biggest Cinderella stories four years ago. Placed in a group with Uruguay, Italy and England Costa Rica was assumed to finish last in the group – victories over Uruguay and Italy, as well as a 0-0 draw against England, saw the Ticos advance (the Netherlands ultimately eliminated them in the quarterfinals).

Now four years later Costa Rica are once again in an impossible group. Of the four, Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica, many will expect the Concacaf side to finish last. Costa Rica, however, have been here before and the match against Serbia will in many ways determine which direction the tournament will take for the Central American side.

Serbia, in the meantime, did not qualify four years ago and also missed out on the 2016 European Championships. The Orlovi had a good qualification campaign but at the same time, the Serbian Football Federation also decided to part ways with Slavoljub Muslin.

Despite a successful campaign Muslin failed to integrate key players into this side. The biggest issue had been the usage of Lazio star Sergej Milinković-Savić, who failed to make a mark under Muslin. His replacement, Mladen Krstajić, has made it a priority to build a functioning side around the Lazio midfielder and you can expect that Milinković-Savić will play a key role for Serbia.

As for the match against Costa Rica – the Orlovi will attempt to hit the ground running at the World Cup trying to collect all three points ahead of the key games against Switzerland and Brazil. In truth, however, this is a fifty-fifty match in which both sides can collect all three points.

Costa Rica vs Serbia – Players to look out for:

Kendall Waston #19 – Costa Rica (Vancouver Whitecaps)

The Vancouver Whitecaps captain will be one of the key players for Costa Rica against Serbia. The 196cm tall Vancouver Whitecaps defender missed out on the World Cup four years ago. Subsequently, he moved to Major League Soccer to grow as a player and increase his chances to make the squad. In the last four years, Waston has significantly grown in stature in Vancouver cementing his place in the starting lineup, becoming one of the best centre-backs in the league and ultimately the captain of the Whitecaps. His call-up to the national team is, therefore, only consequential, but Waston will not just be in the squad he will also play a crucial role for this Costa Rica side.

Kendall Waston will be tasked with keeping the backline together (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Kendall Waston will be tasked with keeping the backline together (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Sergej Milinković-Savić #20 – Serbia (Lazio)

Sergej Milinković-Savić has become one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe at the moment. The Lazio midfielder brings a physical presence and attacking prowess to any side. Unfortunately, his Serbia career came off to a slow start as he did not get along well former head coach Muslin. But with Krstajić coming in Milinković-Savić has been given a similar role to the one he plays for his club side and will, therefore, be the player to watch in the match against Costa Rica.

Sergej Milinković-Savić is at the top of the world at the moment but will he stay at Lazio? (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

Sergej Milinković-Savić is at the top of the world at the moment but will he stay at Lazio? (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

Costa Rica vs Serbia – Match Stats

  • Serbia and Costa Rica have never played each other before.
  • Costa Rica will take part in their fifth World Cup – two times, in 1990 (round of 16) and 2014 (quarterfinal), the country managed to get out of the group stage.
  • Four years ago Costa Rica, alongside Germany and the Netherlands, were the only team to remain undefeated throughout regulation time.

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Costa Rica vs Serbia – 0-2

Costa Rica vs Serbia – Lineups

Costa Rica:

Formation: 5-4-1

Navas – Oviedo, Duarte, Gonzalez, Waston, Gamboa – Bolaños, Tejeda, Borges, Ruiz – Ureña

Head Coach: Óscar Ramirez

Serbia:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Stojković – Kolarov, Tadić, Milenković, Ivanović – Milinković-Savić, Matić – Kostić, Ljajić, Tadić – Mitrović

Head Coach: Mladen Krstajić

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.

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