World Cup Preview: Brazil v Costa Rica

Who? Brazil - Costa Rica
Where? Krestovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg
When? June 22, 14:00 (CET local time)

Brazil (Vitor Buratini Mendes)

Disappointment. This is the only word that can be used to describe the performance of the Brazilian team in their 2018 World Cup opener. Many expected for good football and a decent victory, but what was seen was a team that shot very badly and did not match the expectations. Neymar made a game much below average and several criticisms already appear to the team.

In order to win the next game and to stay in a good position, the influence of the manager Tite will be a key factor: he has to be fearless in the substitutions. He is an excellent coach, he has won important titles, but that does not make him clear of criticism. In the game against Switzerland, his changes were very pragmatic and none caused a real change in the course of the match. For example, two of the three substitutions were made to change the midfield and in both he switched players from the same position. Against Costa Rica, it's time for him to dare a little more: if Brazil are in a tie, why not put the team forward, putting Douglas Costa instead of Paulinho, for example? The starting lineup will be the same, except from one change - Fagner will be in the first XI insted of Danilo who got injured. This is really the best Brazil have. However, the options coming from the bench should be better chosen.

Brazil's game against Switzerland was not exactly bad: the Swiss played very well, but much more was expected from Brazil, especially by players like Neymar. During the game, he played with the ball a lot and suffered 10 fouls. The Swiss team did not let the best Brazilian player to appear and the team's creativity was compromised. Anyway, Neymar is not yet 100% recovered from his injury and we can understand that he is not yet at his best. There is still a concern with him, because at Tuesday's practice he limped away. Even so, he should be starting in the game on Friday, though, it will be a bit understandable if he would not meet the expectations.

Against Costa Rica, victory is a must, since the game against Serbia must be difficult. Anyway, the optimism on continues: Brazil have a strong and qualified squad to go far in the World Cup. However, it is necessary that Brazil will have kind of a fresh start. Brazil are capable of more and it is well known.

 Neymar, a question mark is over his head (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Neymar, a question mark is over his head (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Costa Rica (Omri Tancman)

Costa Rica and Brazil have a long rivalry dating back to the 50’s. In fact, both teams have already played each other a couple of times in the World Cups. Their second and last meeting was in 2002 and Brazil crushed Costa Rica 5-2. One of two Costa Ricans who scored in that game was Paolo Wanchope. When asked about the upcoming game, Wanchope urged Costa Ricans players to give 100 per cent since they do not have the privilege against Brazil to lack enthusiasm and effort.

Nevertheless, Wanchope complained about the lack of a natural striker in the squad, and pointed out Marco Ureña and Joel Campbell as two players who should step up and offer some attacking ability. Against Serbia, the two strikers didn’t perform too well. Based on the analysis of “Twelve Football Analytics” both players didn’t have any influential attacking actions. Ureña, who started was even weaker than Campbell who came from the bench. Altogether, both players didn’t have any important attacking actions and only one important defensive action.

In order to have even the slightest of chances the Costa Ricans need much more contribution from their strikers. A possible solution can be to start with Campbell instead of Ureña, due to an overall better performance of Campbell against Serbia. No one expects from Costa Rica to challenge Brazil, but even a goal to remember, like Wanchope scored, can be a nice accomplishment.

 Paulo Wanchope, who can remake his achievement? (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Paulo Wanchope, who can remake his achievement? (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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