Coming into the Group Stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, nobody really gave Costa Rica any respect, myself included. Being that they drew Italy, Uruguay and England as their group mates, you can probably see why. Along with Group G, Group D is considered one of the “groups of death,” with the USMNT and Costa Rica predicted to be the two teams left in the dust in each group, respectively. It seems that nobody told the Ticos that, because they moved one step closer to winning this group today, when they beat Italy 1-0.
Costa Rica sits at the top of the group through the first two sets of games, with 6 points and a +3 goal differential. Their improbable run began when they jumped all over Uruguay in the second half on Sunday and took down the reigning South American champions 3-1. Today, although they had trouble notching more than the one goal, they completely dominated the Azurri for most of the game.
How have they done it? Simply by being better than their opponents in every facet of the game. They have played with better energy than Uruguay and Italy so far (although both teams played significantly better against England), they have pounded the goal and they have played relentless defense. The world is also discovering that Costa Rica has a few guys on the squad with legitimate superstar potential. Coming into this tournament, we knew about Captain Bryan Ruiz, who scored the goal against Italy today, but we met guys like Christian Bolaños and Joel Campbell in the game against Uruguay. Campbell can’t even get on the field with Fullham of the EPL, but he has looked spectacular so far this tournament, which should hopefully change that. Today, we got to know defender Michael Umaña, who had a tremendous game guarding Mario Balotelli and the rest of the Italian offense. Also, don’t forget Yeltsin Tejeda (yes, he’s apparently named after Boris), who has been called a “beast” by the guys at Threeforawin.com (listen to their game review podcasts, btw… they are quick, but very insightful and entertaining). Did I mention that Costa Rica is missing their best player, Álvaro Saborío, who broke a bone in his foot before the cup began? What they’re doing is amazing.
Today, Costa Rica proved that their victory over Uruguay was not a fluke. The Ticos are for real, and they are making the three former World Champions in their group, and everyone else, take notice.
Ruiz Notches the Winning Goal:
Featured image courtesy of: Reuters
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