Spain vs Costa Rica Prediction
23rd November 2022
19:00 Qatar Time/16:00 GMT
Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
Current Form (Last Five Matches):
Spain vs Costa Rica Prediction Match Overview
On the tournament’s fourth day, Spain (ranked 7th in the world) face Costa Rica (ranked 31st in the world) in the second match of Group E in Doha. The game will be played at 7 pm local time.
Spain enter the tournament on a fine run of form. They have won four of their last five games and qualified for next summer’s Nations League Finals for the second consecutive time. The highlights of this run include a 1-0 win away in Switzerland and the victory in Portugal in the final game, which clinched their place. They have scored eight goals and only conceded three, so they are strong defensively.
Costa Rica have also won four of their previous five games, though against gentler opposition than Spain have faced. Wins over Nigeria, Martinique, and Uzbekistan will supply confidence. There was also the play-off victory against New Zealand to qualify for the tournament. They do not concede many goals and shipped only eight goals in 14 matches in qualifying, though Spain represents a steep step up in class.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Marcos Llorente, Marco Asensio, Alvaro Morata (Spain)
Spain vs Costa Rica Prediction Analysis
Spain will likely line up in their tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation, which they have used so successfully over the years to dominate possession. Unai Simon will likely start in goal, with Robert Sanchez and David Raya as his back-up. Simon is good with the ball at his feet and will be expected to distribute the ball to the defence and midfield. The full-backs could be the experienced veterans Jordi Alba and Dani Carvajal. However, Marcos Llorente, Cesar Azipilicueta and youngster Alejandro Balde are also options. The full-backs will get forward to support the attack, bombing up and down the pitch to provide the width. As they do this, they can overlap the wide men (likely to be Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia, though there are other options). Torres and Sarabia can play Alba and Carvajal in on the said overlap. They can also cross the ball to striker Alvaro Morata to head the ball. Morata is also good with the ball at his feet and in linking up, though his finishing often leaves a lot to be desired.
A Barcelona trio of captain Sergio Busquets and starlets Pedri and Gavi will likely be preferred in midfield. However, Koke, Rodri, and Carlos Soler are also options. The three midfielders will seek to control the ball with their usual elegance and class and protect the defence from Costa Rica’s attacking threat. Indeed, for Costa Rica, Venegas, Contreras, youngster Jewison Bennette, and talisman Bryan Ruiz provide attacking impetus, and Bennette and Venegas are quick. The former is also very tricky with his dribbling. They can definitely test Spain’s ageing full-backs. It could be a test of endurance if Alba and Carvajal play, making the Spanish midfield three’s dynamic positioning and covering even more critical. For the Costa Ricans, Yeltsin Tejeda and Celso Borges are very experienced campaigners and likely to hold their position in midfield. They will screen Fransisco Calvo and Oscar Duarte and try not to let Spain play their cute little passes in between and around them. They are both very disciplined. Meanwhile, Bryan Oviedo and Keysher Fuller will try to get forward to link up with Bennette and Venegas. These four players will try to exploit the space left by the Spanish full-backs.
Equally, Torres and Sarabia will try to cut inside when they isolate the Costa Rican full-backs. They will come onto Calvo and Duarte to get shots on goal or try to create through clever little passes. The Costa Ricans must be disciplined and concentrated. If they switch off at any moment, Spain will find a gap and create a chance. If Spain do get through, legendary Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas is well-known for his shot-stopping ability. Even at his advanced age, he maintains excellent reflexes. Indeed, Costa Rica are much more experienced than their younger Spanish counterparts. The Costa Rican team retains many players who played in Brazil in 2014 and are well into their thirties. They have four players with more than 100 caps in their squad. To emphasise this, the average age of the Costa Rican squad is 27, whereas it is 25 for Spain. Therefore, the longer the game goes, the Spaniards should have a fitness advantage.
Both teams have options to change things. As well as the previously mentioned midfield options, Spain have many wide alternatives. Indeed Marcos Llorente, Dani Olmo, Yeremy Pino, Ansu Fati, Marco Asensio, and Nico Williams all offer competition for starting places. If none of them starts, many are exciting young options to come off the bench. Costa Rica can introduce midfielders Gerson Torres and younger prospects Daniel Chacon and Brandon Aguilera to freshen things up. There is also the experienced Joel Campbell, who could start in attack. Spain have the superior bench, which adds to their advantage in having a younger squad.
Spain Key Players
Pedri is widely viewed as one of the most exciting and talented young prospects in world football. His performances at Euro 2020 alerted him to the world; since then, he has gone from strength to strength. He will have to be diligent in this match, linking with clubmates Busquets and Gavi to keep possession and starve Costa Rica of the ball. He is not afraid to do the dirty work, either. He will relish the midfield battle with the much older and more experienced Borges, Tejeda, and Ruiz. It is crucial that he finds the wide men and Morata with cute little balls out wide and in behind and that he covers for the full-backs when they go forward. Much rests on his shoulders.
Torres is not yet an automatic pick in this Spain team, but we expect him to start and do well. He will be up against Fuller on the Spanish left side. Torres must link up well with the Spanish left-back (likely Alba) to force overloads and create opportunities down that side. He will also come into contact with Borges and Tejeda on the cover at transitions. He must come inside to link with Morata and to get shots off himself. He needs to be cute and clever to open up Costa Rica. He has a good scoring record for Spain and must give them the end product they sometimes lack. Therefore, it is imperative that he converts the chances which come his way.
Costa Rica Key Players
Navas should be fit enough to start. He is one of the foremost leaders in this Costa Rica team, alongside the likes of Borges, Campbell, and of course, Ruiz. Navas’s role in this match will be critical, as Spain will likely create plenty of chances. However, the Spanish are often profligate in converting these chances, and this is where Navas’s shot-stopping ability will come into play. He is well-known for keeping his teams in games and will likely have to do so again. If Morata and Torres get one-on-one with him, he will have to make himself as big as possible and close down their angles. The Spaniards already doubt themselves in front of goal due to their wastefulness in the past (particularly Morata). Navas must exacerbate that indecision.
Tejeda will likely start as the primary defensive midfielder for Costa Rica. It will be up to him to be disciplined and block off passing lanes or gaps the Spanish seek to exploit. He will have to come across on the cover to track the Spanish full-backs, and he has his work cut out in dealing with the excellent Spanish midfield. His battle with Pedri will be fascinating, with the Spaniard attempting to play cute little passes around him. Tejeda’s screening of his defence is crucial in stopping the supply to Morata. Indeed, he needs to submit a high-quality performance if Costa Rica gets anything from this game.
Spain vs Costa Rica Prediction
Spain are not as fancied as they were during the time of the Golden Generation, but they are still a good team and can retain the ball like no other. Indeed, they are likely to have the majority of the ball in this match, and Costa Rica must try to make their limited possession count. Still, it should be too much for the Central Americans. Their players are ageing, and it is difficult to retain concentration against Spain for 90 minutes. We expect Spain to get chances, and it is a question of if Navas can keep them out. Spain will likely have too much, though they must finish their opportunities.