We can finally say that World Cup 2018 is right around the corner! In just a month and a half the planet’s best football teams will be heading to Russia to compete for the greatest trophy of them all. The only problem is that this means we have very little time left to explore the remaining countries! This is the 8th installment in our Get to Know series, so make sure you’re caught up on the teams we’ve already covered.
So, which country is up this week? Well, 4 years ago they surprised many people by reaching the quarter finals at the 2014 World Cup. They’re the most successful team in Central America and are known to their loyal fans by the nickname ‘Los Ticos‘. Think rainforests, coffee and incredible wildlife…
Yep, that’s right! We’re getting to know… Costa Rica!
Location: Central America—bordered by Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Capital city: San José
Official Language: Spanish
Famous for: Rainforests
Fun Fact: The sun rises and sets at the same time every single day, due to Costa Rica’s proximity to the equator.
Road to the World Cup
Costa Rica didn’t mess around when it came to securing a place in Russia 2018. In fact, they qualified with a couple of games to spare! The magic moment (see below) came during a match against Honduras, when Kendall Watson scored a late (we’re talking 5th minute of extra time) equaliser for Los Ticos—nabbing them second place behind Mexico in the CONCACAF qualifiers.
There’s high hopes for Costa Rica in this year’s competition, thanks to the team’s excellent performance in the 2014 World Cup, where they managed to reach the quarter-finals. With Óscar Ramírez replacing Jorge Luis Pinto as manager since then, it’ll be interesting to see if the team can live up to fans’ expectations.
Players to Watch
Navas proved in the 2014 World Cup that he is one of the team’s greatest assets. An outstanding goalkeeper, in his club career he plays for Real Madrid. He played a major role in Costa Rica’s superb effort in Brazil ’14. Not only did he produce a number of incredible saves throughout the competition, he also stopped a penalty during the shootout against Greece that sent the team to the quarter-finals.
Ureña is a skilled striker who spends his club career at Los Angeles FC. He scored in the 2014 World Cup and also played a vital part in Costa Rica qualifying for Russia 2018—with goals against the USA and Mexico. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on his progress this summer.
Costa Rica’s captain is an attacking midfielder who, when he’s not representing his country, plays for Portuguese club Sporting FC. You may remember him from his stint in the Premier League, when he played for Fulham between 2011 and 2015 (though he was on loan to PSV in 2014).
If you’re looking for a solid midfielder for your line-up, Borges would be a pretty good shout. He plays for Spanish club Deportivo de La Coruña and has scored 21 goals for his country. He also has some impressive skills beyond the pitch—dubbed by some as “the brain of Costa Rica”, Borges speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese and Swedish. Impressive!
Manager: Óscar Ramírez
FIFA Ranking: 26
Sure, it’s never fun being drawn in the same group as a football giant like Brazil, but we fancy their chances against Serbia and Switzerland…
What They Have Going for Them
- Reaching the quarter finals in 2014 has provided both the team and their fans with a lot of self-belief. Of course, this can also work in the opposite way and put more pressure on the players. Given the ‘anything can happen’ nature of football, though, we’re sure it will boost the team’s confidence, rather than shake it.
- Triumphing in Group E does not look like an impossible task. We’re talking about the most successful team in Central America, here. Plus, they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world. When you stack up the pros, this is not a team to underestimate.
We certainly look forward to seeing how far Los Ticos can go in Russia 2018—¡buena suerte!
The more we explore the teams heading to Russia, the more we realize how hard it is to take a guess at who could come out on top! To stay informed and come to your own conclusions about who might be clutching that trophy this summer, keep checking in with DailyFantasyUK!