The third match of another busy day of action at the FIFA World Cup on Wednesday sees the 2010 champions Spain getting their campaign up and running when they host a Costa Rica side who are appearing at a third successive tournament.
Costa Rica were quarter finalists in this event in 2014, four years after Spain had their crowning glory and both sides will be looking to get off to a positive start when they meet to open their competitive in Doha.
Where to watch
This match will be shown live and in full on the ITV 1 channel in the UK with the lead up to the contest beginning at 3.10pm and kick off coming at 4pm.
Spain won this tournament in 2010 but they haven’t been past the round of 16 since then, losing out in the group stage in Brazil four years later and then in that first knockout stage four years ago. They did reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 last year though and have secured their place at another Nations League finals having lost out in the final of that competition last year too, so there is every reason to think they are equipped for another shot at world glory.
We are used to Spain completely controlling matches with high batches of possession which in turn restricts opposing teams to little threat on their goal but that hasn’t necessarily been the case lately. In saying that, their three Nations League wins all came without conceding so they can still restrict opponents but the fact that they conceded in the other three matches show that you can get at this side a little more than previous Spanish ones.
Eight years on from their greatest run in a World Cup, Costa Rica head to Qatar ready to have another go at the ultimate glory. That is probably a pipedream considering that they needed to come through one of the intercontinental play-offs to make it through to this tournament but if they can take anything from that then it would be the fact that the game that got them here was played in Qatar so they have had a taste of the conditions and know what to expect.
The one thing we know about Costa Rica is they are very much setup to be organised and hard to break down and don’t really show too much in the way of attacking intent other than on the break. They will look to make the most of set plays and generally look to break the game up as much as possible. With that in mind, it is imperative that they don’t concede an early goal here as it could become a long afternoon if they do.
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Spain don’t come into the tournament with too many injury issues. The only one they had was Jose Gaya withdrawing but such is the strength within their ranks that Premier League stars Thiago and Rodrigo didn’t make the cut.
Costa Rica have reported no issues on the injury front either which means that Joel Campbell could be utilised in a lone attacker role as they set up with two strong deep banks to look to repel the Spanish attackers.
Although you can get at this Spanish defence a lot more than you used to be able to, I’m not sure Costa Rica will have that much intent in this match and barring Spain conceding from a set play I don’t see the Costa Ricans offering too much in the way of a goal threat in the game. Spain are likely to have all of the play here but whether that will translate into goals I’m less sure of. I would imagine Costa Rica will have their eyes set on their next two matches and looking to do a bit of damage limitation here.
I think the question for this match is how many Spain win by. We are used to seeing them moving through the gears as a tournament goes on rather than flourishing in the opening match and against a low block and a side who aren’t going to send too many men forward it might well be that this match follows the trend of their recent competitive wins. They have all been with under 3.5 goals in the match and I suspect a similar Spanish win will follow here.
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