England will hope to restore some pride after their early exit from the World Cup in their final group match against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday (17:00 BST, live on ITV1).
Costa Rica head Group D with six points from superb back-to-back victories over Uruguay and Italy, who are tied in second with three points apiece. England are yet to accumulate a point and will be on the next flight home following this match.
England earned plaudits for the vibrancy of their attacking play in their narrow defeat to Italy, but they did not carry the same consistent threat against a deep-lying Uruguayan defence on Thursday. With that said, they arguably created better, if fewer, chances and might have taken victory had Wayne Rooney been able to convert more than one of his opportunities.
He wasn’t, however, and it was Uruguay who secured the three points thanks to two goals from Luis Suarez, both well-taken but both coming from lapses of concentration in the England defence. Phil Jagielka (pictured) allowed Suarez to pull off him to head in the first, while Suarez stole a march on both centre-backs before firing strongly past Joe Hart for the second.
England’s early elimination has prompted the usual hand-wringing in the English press, with Roy Hodgson likely to come under increasing pressure if his side make a slow start to their Euro 2016 qualifying group. There are some promising youngsters coming through, but a more coherent tactical structure will be required in order to get the best out of them.
Hodgson is likely to make some changes to his starting XI for England’s final match of the tournament, with Jack Wilshere, Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley among those set to be included. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the first two matches with a knee injury, but should be able to play some part here.
Costa Rica have been the surprise package of Brazil 2014. They were clear outsiders to qualify from a group featuring three previous World Cup winners, but they have done so with a match to spare. By progressing to the last 16 they have already equalled their best World Cup performance – on current form, the quarter-finals could be within reach.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s side line up in a 5-2-2-1 formation, with three deep-lying central defenders, two wing-backs, a multi-functional midfield two, two attacking midfielders and Joel Campbell alone up front. They are a well-organised unit and have done an excellent job of limiting the attacking threat of their opponents in both of their matches to date.
Costa Rica were particularly impressive in the second half against Italy. The Italians had got in behind on a couple of occasions in the first half, but they were completely nullified after the break. Any team that does breach the Costa Rican defence will still have to contend with Keylor Navas – one of the best goalkeepers in the Spanish league last season.
In attack, Campbell’s pace and trickery render him a handful for any defence. Cristian Bolanos offers another speed-based threat, while Bryan Ruiz is more considered. Further support comes from the energetic wing-backs Christian Gamboa and Junior Diaz and tireless midfielder Celso Borges, who has covered more ground than any other Costa Rican player so far.
Pinto is considering making a few changes to his starting XI for this match in order to rest some of his players. The formation and game plan will, however, remain unchanged.
England vs Costa Rica Betting Tips Advice
These two sides have never met before in official competition. England have won three and drawn two of their last five matches against CONCACAF opposition, while Costa Rica have won three, drawn one and lost one in their last five encounters with teams from Europe. The wins include a 1-0 victory over Wales in February of 2012.
England have never gone home pointless from a World Cup campaign and Hodgson and his side will be desperate to pick up something from this match in order to avoid that particular place in the record books. That aside, they have nothing to lose and can afford to adopt an attacking approach in search of victory.
Costa Rica only need a draw to win the group – although, in some circumstances, defeat could also see them progress as group winners – and have already shown themselves capable of going toe-to-toe with better-ranked opponents. They have the necessary attacking pace to cause England problems and can be fancied to at least pick up a point.
- Back Costa Rica +0.5 on an Asian Handicap @ 13/12 with BetVictor.
- England have gone behind in both of their matches at the tournament so far, and while Costa Rica did concede first against Uruguay, they also scored the only goal of the match against Italy. We fancy the Ticos to make a strong start. Back Costa Rica to score first @ best odds of 7/4 with Bet365.