World Cup Class of 2018: Costa Rica

Population:  4.86 million
Capital:  San Jose
Team Colors:  Red and Blue
How Qualified:  2nd in CONCACAF Hexagonal
Nickname:  Ticos
5th World Cup
Head Coach:  Oscar Ramirez (CRC)
Key Players:  Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruña)
Best Performance:  Quarterfinals (2014)
Can they replicate their performance from four years ago? Four years ago, Costa Rica made an improbable run to the quarterfinals and were penalty kicks away from reaching the semifinals. Their group in Brazil was Uruguay, Italy, and England; and all they did was get seven points and top the group and then defeat Greece on penalties in the second round to be the furthest advancing CONCACAF team in the 2014 World Cup.  
For this cycle, there were some nervy moments, but those were soothed after Kendall Waston’s stoppage time equalizer against Honduras in their penultimate qualifier. Costa Rica’s recent form has not been anything to write home about, but they had a similar run in the lead up to the last World Cup.
Two key players are goalkeeper Keylor Navas and playmaker Bryan Ruiz. Navas has once again been instrumental in helping Real Madrid reach the UEFA Champions League Final while Ruiz will be counted on to spearhead the attack once again for the Ticos.
There will likely be some MLS representation in the Ticos squad. Five players from MLS were called to the squad for the March friendly against Tunisia while three were on the World Cup squad in 2014.
Costa Rica turned many heads four years ago when they emerged on top of the Group of Death with Italy, England, and Uruguay. They didn’t have the smoothest of finishes in the Hex, but still manage to come in second behind Mexico and qualify with a match to spare. Replicating their 2014 run will be hard. While it is not a “Group of Death” against Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland; it is still a difficult group. However, the Ticos will be looking to prove that 2014 was no fluke and that they can more than hang with the bigger teams.
June 17:  vs. Serbia in Samara (7am CT on FOX/Telemundo)
June 22:  vs. Brazil in St. Petersburg (7am CT on FS1/Telemundo)
June 27:  vs. Switzerland in Nizhny Novgorod (1pm CT on FS1/NBC Universo)

Costa Rica

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