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Costa Rica vs. England - World Cup 2014 Preview

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Costa Rica vs. England
Match Date: 24 June 2014 (local time)
Match Venue: Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto (Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica humbled Italy, perhaps relegating the Azzurri to one of their worst performances in recent memory. Christian Bolanos had a sensational game, completely stifling the creative presence of Andrea Pirlo. Navas, who was so sensational between the sticks against Uruguay, hardly had a save to make as the hard-working Central American side completely nullified Italy as an attacking threat. It is hard to imagine why Arsenal have Joel Campbell plying his considerable trade at Olympiakos. The speed merchant traumatized Chiellini and Barzagli and was unlucky not to receive a blatant penalty through his explosive pace. Bryan Ruiz makes an ideal foil for Campbell, sniping in and out of dangerous areas created through Campbell’s pace. The temptation would be for Costa Rica to take their foot off the pedal, but I think this side is far too savvy for that. Winning this group would avoid a potentially awkward engagement with Colombia, whom looks likely to top Group C. England are the antithesis of Costa Rica, a side operating far above the sum of its parts, and they will be in for a tough assignment here.

England

What more can be said of the Three Lions? They have brought a talented group of players to the World Cup, puffed out their chests with the same old rhetoric - “This is the most talented squad we have ever had…” - but still they find themselves stuck in deep introspection following an early exit. Wayne Rooney’s claim to legendary status has grown ever more dubious, while the Lampard-Gerrard generation has finally reached its disappointing conclusion. Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson, whilst both boasting excellent talent in advanced areas, are just too much of a liability in defence and may need to make way for upcoming, younger talent. Roy Hodgson will know that this match will be extremely important should he wish to take the side forward. Welbeck was as ineffectual against Uruguay as he was against Italy and should make way for the more dynamic Adam Lallana. The decision to play Sturridge up front hasn’t really reaped much reward, so Hodgson may opt to revert to Rooney as the main striker whilst deploying Sturridge in the role behind, allowing Sterling and Lallana to interchange of the wings. Barkley may come in to partner Gerrard in the midfield, while shaky Cahill and Jagielka try to contain a feisty Costa Rican side from central defence.

World Cup 2014 Betting tips: Costa Rica

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