World Cup group opponents Costa Rica: It’s make-or-break time

Magazine, 30.11.2022

There has not been a match between Germany and Costa Rica since the 2006 World Cup summer fairytale in Germany. On 1 December, Germany will finally again face “Los Ticos” from Central America in their final group match. And there is a lot at stake. Part three of the Ergo series on Germany’s World Cup group opponents.

Costa Rica National Team

Following a 7-0 loss to Spain, Costa Rica’s shock win over Japan (1-0) means the Central Americans are still in the running for a place in the last 16. Germany can dash Costa Rica’s hopes by winning the game and qualifying for the last 16 themselves. So this reunion after 16 years is set to be a real showdown. The Germans are the clear favourites and on past form it is easy to understand why.

Keylor Navas the only star

Costa Rica became the 32nd and last team to qualify for the World Cup. Only Tunisia scored fewer goals in qualification, but they also played fewer matches. Costa Rica's rate of 0.93 goals per game is the worst of all qualified teams. In the decisive qualifying match, the team and their only star player, Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas, managed a flattering 1-0 win over New Zealand. Navas himself is no longer the team’s talisman due to a lack of match practice in the French league. After the heavy defeat in the opening game, all seemed lost. But now they have this opportunity against four-time world champions Germany.

Major upset in Brazil 2014

This is Costa Rica’s sixth appearance in the finals. In 2006, “Los Ticos” lost the World Cup’s opening match 4-2 in their only encounter with Germany so far and also remained pointless in the other group matches against Ecuador and Poland. Only once were they able to leave a lasting impression: the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is their most successful tournament to date. In a group with Uruguay, England and Italy, Costa Rica managed to reach the last 16 undefeated. They then faced Greece, who they beat on penalties. In the quarter-finals against the Netherlands Costa Rica were eliminated in a dramatic penalty shootout. The 2018 World Cup in Russia brought no fresh surprises and ended for them in the group stages against Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland with two defeats and a draw.

Combination of experience and young talent

Costa Rica will again field a mix of veterans and promising rookies on Thursday. These include experienced players like superstar Keylor Navas, who is already 36 years old, and youngsters like the talented 19-year-old midfielder Jewison Bennette. It remains to be seen whether this mix will pay off in the last group game. One thing is certain: a victory against four-time world champions Germany would give the people of Costa Rica cause for indescribable jubilation. So who will enjoy this reunion more?

(Text: Martin Sulkowsky / Lothar Grimm)

ERGO portrays the national team's World Cup group opponents in a three-part series.

Part 1 - World Cup group opponents Japan

Part 2 - World Cup group opponents Spain


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