Costa Rica and Greece are set to clash in a match that no one expected to happen before the World Cup’s commencement. Many believed that the Costa Ricans would be the ‘whipping boys’ of Group D, but the Ticos proved everyone wrong and finished on top of the table by eliminating the likes of Italy and England and leaving Uruguay behind.
Manager Jorge Luis Pinto is not expected to make may changes in the starting line-up and much will be expected from Arsenal forward Joel Campbell, who will be playing against quite a few of his former Olympiakos teammates, and former Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz.
Greece made it through after a last minute penalty shot by former Celtic star Giorgos Samaras which boosted their morale to great heights. Manager Fernando Santos is expected to feature the same offence with Samaras up front and Bologna’s Lazaros Christodoulopoulos as well as PAOK’s Dimtris Salpingidis on the wings.
World Cup 2014: Group stage best XI
World Cup 2014: Group stage best XI
1/11 Guillermo Ochoa - Goalkeeper (Mexico)
The Mexican goalkeeper produced a man of the match display to keep Brazil at bay and has been at the heart of a resolute defence that has helped put the side in the knockout stages.
2/11 Serge Aurier - Right-back (Ivory Coast)
Reportedly on the radar of several Premier League clubs and you can see why. Provider of some crucial assists already, he has looked a serious talent.
3/11 Rafael Marquez - Centre-back (Mexico)
The veteran centre-back has turned back the years to marshal a disciplined Mexican defence and lead his side into the knockout rounds.
4/11 Mario Yepes - Centre-back (Colombia)
Another old-timer who many thought had his best years behind him. Yepes has looked solid for Colombia and even managed a marauding run through midfield at one point.
5/11 Daley Blind - Left-back (Netherlands)
The Netherlands man provided the superb assist for Robin van Persie's magnificent header, and Blind has offered a different option with his charges forward down the left-flank. Has the most assists in the tournament so far alongside Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.
6/11 Philipp Lahm - Defensive midfielder (Germany)
The Germany captain had a quiet start to the tournament as he let the attacking-minded players take the plaudits against Portugal. But he has controlled the strings since, completing more passes than any other player, and his versatility means Muller, Mesut Ozil and the likes can push on to leave Lahm marshaling the back-four.
7/11 Arjen Robben - Right-wing (Netherlands)
Robben's pace to blow away Sergio Ramos summed up his performance in the 5-1 dismantling of Spain, as he starred throughout the Netherlands' group campaign. Three goals from his eight shots represents a very solid return.
8/11 James Rodriguez - Right-wing (Colombia)
One of the stars of the World Cup so far, Rodriguez became the Colombian to score in all three of their group games, helping the South Americans to progress to the second round as winners of Group C.
9/11 Lionel Messi - Central midfield (Argentina)
How can you leave Messi out of any best XI? Answer - you can't. Proving the doubters wrong, Messi put in three match-winning performances to help Argentina improve as the tournament goes on and book their spot in the last 16. He takes a roaming midfield role in our XI, but with the way he is playing at the moment, we'll let him play where he wants!
10/11 Neymar - Left-wing (Brazil)
Brazil's poster boy for the World Cup has dominated the headlines since the tournament began. Two goals against Croatia in controversial circumstances, and another brace against Cameroon sees Neymar level with Messi and Muller on four goals so far. Can the golden boy go on to claim the golden boot as well as the golden trophy?
11/11 Thomas Muller - Centre forward (Germany)
With no recognised striker in their starting line-up, Muller has flourished spearheading a German attack that interchanges position at will. If Germany are to be knocked out, Muller will have to be marked out of the game, as he has already shown this prowess in front of goal if he is given the chance.
Udinese goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis suffered an injury during the National’s match against Ivory Coast but is expected to be fit for Sunday; however Bologna attacking midfielder Panagiotis Kone, who also limped out in the first half, is considered as a serious doubt for this match. Captain Kostas Katsouranis, who was suspended on Tuesday, is quite possibly being replaced by Greece’s most capped player Giorgos Karagounis yet again.
KICK-OFF: Sunday, 9pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Those two sides have never faced each other before
This is the first time ever those two teams will square off.
Greece picked up their second World Cup victory ever last Tuesday. The Greeks have only beaten African teams in this competition.
Andreas Samaris became the first ever midfielder to score for Greece in the World Cup.
The National advanced to the World Cup’s Round of 16 for the first time in their entire history.
Last time Costa Rica made it to the second round was in 1990.
The Ticos have scored in seven out of eight World Cup matches against European teams – the only side that escaped was England last Tuesday.
Costa Rica to win: 6.4
Greece to win: 9.4
TV: Live on ITV at 9pm