World Cup pre-game: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
Both teams need points from the crucial first game
Group D: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
- June 14, 3 p.m. ET
- Live on CBC TV, streaming online at cbc.ca/fifaworldcup
What’s at stake
Winning this clash in Brazil is crucial for each side, considering the strengths of the other two Group D teams: England and Italy.
Double World Cup champions (1930 and 1950), Uruguay surprised many in 2010 by finishing fourth overall. However, they stumbled badly in qualifying for 2014 before booking their ticket to Brazil. They start Group D eager to regain some of that South African success.
Costa Rica lost to Uruguay in a 2010 qualifier. This time around they won five out of five home matches and qualified for Brazil with two games to spare. But they are up against three former World Cup champions in Group D, and have a tough road to advance.
These teams have met on eight previous occasions, with Uruguay winning six times.
- Uruguay: Luis Suarez. We already know the Liverpool forward won't start since he's still recovering from a knee injury. But he could be an influential substitute late in the match. He is a scoring machine, topping the Premiership scoring table with 31 goals last season.
- Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz. He’s a tall and technical — a threat on the ground and in the air. This will be his first World Cup, and he’s very keen to put his stamp on the global stage before returning to his new Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
What to watch for
Oscar Tabarez, manager for Uruguay, may start a 4-4-2 formation against Costa Rica, likely with Diego Forlan partnering with Edinson Cavani up front. This still gives Uruguay, known as “La Celeste”, one of the best strike forces in the tournament.
Under manager Jorge Luis Pinto, “Los Ticos” tends to play a defensive-oriented 5-2-3, back-stopped by seasoned keeper and La Liga stand-out Keylor Navas. Navas has an impressive string of clean sheets and low-scoring games, a track record that will help his team against their high-octane opponents.
They said it
- "When I go on to the pitch I want to go out there ready." — Luis Suarez, speaking to Reuters about his return to match fitness.
- “I’ve worked all my life, so hard, to make it to the World Cup, all my life; this is sheer happiness.” — Jorge Luis Pinto told FIFA.com
The big number
12 — Sum of the goals scored by these two teams in their respective best qualifying games. Uruguay won 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff against Jordan in the fall of 2013. And Costa Rica won 7-0 over Guyana in 2012. So they both like to score.
Obligatory Fun Fact
Luis Suarez seems to have a taste for more than goals. Since 2010 he’s been banned for a total of 17 matches for two cases of biting his opponents during play. Ouch.