Costa Rica will face Greece in their round of 16 encounter at the FIFA World Cup 2014 as the two teams clash at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife on Sunday, June 29 for this hotly anticipated encounter.
Costa Rica have surprised everyone at the World Cup by topping Group D – which was often termed as the Group of Death. They were being viewed as rank outsiders in a group which had four-time world champions Italy, two-time world champions Uruguay, and the 1966 champions England.
However, the Costa Ricans produced some scintillating, exciting football as they won against Uruguay (3-1) and Italy (1-0) before holding England to a goalless draw as the qualified as leaders.
The Greeks on the other hand have not had it easy as they were outdone by Colombia and only managed a goalless draw against Japan.
However, Greece were able to defeat Ivory Coast 2-1 following an injury time penalty by Giorgios Samaras and they narrowly edged out their opponents to the second spot in the Group C.
The Costa Ricans have captured the imagination of millions of people across the globe who are in love with the beautiful game by the manner in which they have gone about their business on the pitch so far.
There is absolutely no half-heartedness in the way they play. The team press as a whole to get the ball back when they lose it while whenever they have managed to break away, the do so at great speed and with midfielders bombing forward from the middle as well.
In a day and age when all teams have approached the big tournaments very tentatively, fearing a loss rather than going for victory, it is refreshing to see a team come out and attack the way Costa Rica have this year although they do not boast one single world class player like a Messi or a Ronaldo.
The team have been top draw with Brian Ruiz being the man with the golden touch in this team. The Costa Rican skipper has shown exceptional vision on the pitch and scored the solitary goal against the Azzuris which ensured qualification for his team. Ruiz is 8/1 to open the scoring while Joel Campbell is 7/1 (SkyBet) on that count.
Greece have had a stop-start tournament, to say the least, and are lucky to have made the second round. Up until the moment when Samaras put the penalty away, it was the Africans who were going to go through.
They have scored only half as many goals as they have let in in their World Cup campaign this time around which reads for pretty poor statistics. Fulham striker Konstantinos Mitroglou is the favourite to open the scoring for the Greeks with Betfair offering odds of 8/1 on the possibility.
Although their Portuguese coach has gone in with most of his attackers on the pitch right from the very off in all their three matches so far, it is pretty clear that the tactic has not paid off. Also, it is now too late in the day to adopt a new game plan against a rampaging Costa Rica team which has a point to prove now that they have made it into the big time.
Costa Rica are 13/8 favourites to win at Betfred which is the most popular bet in this market while punters could be looking for a 0-0 draw for the 90 minutes with Ladbrokes and Coral both offering 6/1 on that score.
Personally I feel Greece’s best chance is to defend and defend hard for long periods of time before looking to attack on the counter. However, if they concede an early goal, this tactic could go out of the window, and we might see a lot more goals.
Greece to qualify: 11/10 (Ladbrokes)
I see one of these four results – 1-0 to either team, 0-0 (6/1 at Ladbrokes) or 1-1 (6/1 at Ladbrokes) after 90 minutes being possible results for this one.