Costa Rica will seek to improve upon a disappointing performance at the 2018 World Cup when they travel to Qatar this winter.
The Central American side exited in the group stage four years ago, finishing bottom of their group with just one point as Brazil and Switzerland progressed – at the expense of Costa Rica and Serbia.
Four years prior, however, Costa Rica recorded their best ever finish at a world championship, reaching the quarter-finals before bowing out against Netherlands on penalties.
This time around they will be guided by Luis Fernando Suarez, who will be coaching at a World Cup for the third time, having led Ecuador to the last 16 in 2006 before exiting in the first round with Honduras in 2014.
This time around, Costa Rica face a tough test in navigating a Group E that includes two giants of international football – Spain and Germany – as well as a Japan side looking to produce some upsets.
Here is everything you need to know:
Group fixtures (all times GMT)
Wednesday 23 November: Spain vs Costa Rica – 19:00
Sunday 27 November: Japan vs Costa Rica – 13:00
Thursday 1 December: Costa Rica vs Germany – 22:00
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain), Esteban Alvarado (Herediano), Patrick Sequeira (CD Lugo)
Defenders: Francisco Calvo (Konyaspor), Juan Pablo Vargas (Millonarios), Kendall Waston (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Al-Wehda), Daniel Chacon (Colorado Rapids), Keysher Fuller (Herediano), Carlos Martinez (San Carlos), Bryan Oviedo (Real Salt Lake), Ronald Matarrita (FC Cincinnati)
Midfielders: Yeltsin Tejeda (Herediano), Celso Borges (Alajuelense), Youstin Salas (Saprissa), Roan Wilson (Municipal Grecia), Gerson Torres (Herediano), Douglas Lopez (Herediano), Jewison Bennette (Sunderland), Alvaro Zamora (Saprissa), Anthony Hernandez (FC Puntarenas), Brandon Aguilera (Nottingham Forrest), Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense)
Forwards: Joel Campbell (Club Leon), Anthony Contreras (Herediano), Johan Venegas (Alajuelense)
Ones to watch
Star – Keylor Navas: One of the best goalkeepers in the world and a centurion for Costa Rica. Navas’ teammates will count on his experience here and hope the 35-year-old can come up with some big stops against top teams like Spain and Germany.
Breakout talent – Anthony Contreras: The striker, still just 22, has started well for Herediano in his home country this season, and if he can carry that goalscoring form into the World Cup, Costa Rica undoubtedly have a chance of troubling opposition defences.
Odds to win the World Cup (taken from Betfair)
Usually at a major international tournament, at least one of the super-powers of world football will drastically underperform. Costa Rica will hope that is the case for either Spain or Germany, because if those sides are firing on all cylinders then the underdogs will surely not escape this group. Knocked out in the group stage.
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