Mexico vs. Costa Rica: Full Preview, Team News, Projected Lineups for WCQ
On Friday, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying swings back into action with the first of two matches for each team left in qualifying.
In Group B, Costa Rica and Mexico will face each other twice over the next five days, starting with Friday's clash in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Mexico has been in the news all summer after the Olympic victory that its U-23 team captured in London.
El Tri were also in the news a week later as their senior squad lost to the U.S. at home in Estadio Azteca.
On the other hand, Costa Rica has kept a low profile heading into its two biggest matches of World Cup Qualifying so far.
The Central American country is looking to qualify for its fourth World Cup after missing out on South Africa in 2010.
Here is everything you need to know about Friday's World Cup Qualifier in CONCACAF Group B.
CONCACAF Group B Table
Both Mexico and Costa Rica were drawn into Group B for the third round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
The top two teams from the group will advance into the final round, where the top three teams will qualify for the 2014 World Cup and the fourth place team will play the top OFC team in a playoff.
Here is how the table looks after two matches:
Costa Rica 4
El Salvador 1
Last 5 Matches:
Costa Rica: WLDWL
Costa Rica has had a mixed bag of results in their last five matches.
In their last three friendlies, they have only won one match with losses to Guatemala and Peru.
Their lone win came in May against Guatemala in the first match in a home-and-home series.
In qualifying, they opened with a draw against El Salvador before taking care of Guyana with a 4-0 win four days later.
Mexico comes into this match as the team in best form.
However, the pride of El Tri is bruised because of their most recent loss, which was to the other giant in CONCACAF, the United States, at home.
In qualifying, Mexico easily beat El Salvador and Guyana in June to put them on top of Group B with six points.
In their two matches before that, they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brazil in friendlies.
Costa Rica vs. Mexico Historically
Costa Rica and Mexico have met 28 times.
Mexico has won 18, Costa Rica has won five, and five matches have ended in a draw.
The most recent match that the two played came during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The two played in their final Group A match at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Mexico was the dominant team on that night as it won 4-1.
Mexico would eventually go on to win the Gold Cup while Costa Rica was eliminated by Honduras in the quarterfinals.
Familiar Faces to European Fans
Not many players from these rosters play for European clubs, but the few that do are recognizable.
The most recognizable of them all is Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito, who plays at Manchester United.
Surprisingly, Costa Rica has more players based in England than Mexico does.
Other European-based players on the roster include Andres Guardado of Mexico at Valencia and a host of Costa Ricans playing across the Scandinavian countries.
No Giovani Dos Santos for Mexico
One name that European fans are familiar with that will not be playing on Friday is Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos.
Ever since moving to Tottenham from Barcelona, Dos Santos has been a star for the national team, but has struggled to break into the first team anywhere in Europe at the club level.
Dos Santos was one of the top players at the 2011 Gold Cup and the 2012 Olympics for El Tri and has finally secured a move away from White Hart Lane.
The 23-year-old signed with Mallorca in La Liga last week and is being held out of the Mexico squad because of an injury he suffered while playing in the Olympics.
Costa Rica Starting 11
GK: Keilor Navas
DEF: Bryan Oviedo, Roy Miller, Jose Salvatierra, Giancarlo Gonzalez
MID: Michael Barrantes, Celso Borges, Oscar Rojas, Jose Miguel Cubero
FW: Joel Campbell, Alvaro Saborio
Manager Jorge Luis Pinto has his strongest players up front in Saborio and Campbell.
Saborio has four goals in two group games, including a hat-trick against Guyana.
The back four for Costa Rica will be pressured from start to finish and with that in mind, Pinto may install a more defensive-minded midfield instead of starting the likes of Randall Brenes.
With the match being played at home, Pinto could bring on Brenes or Bryan Ruiz to go for a surprise win in the second half if they are able to hold Mexico in the first half.
Mexico Starting 11
GK: Jose Corona
DEF: Severo Meza, Francisco Rodriguez, Hector Moreno, Jorge Torres
MID: Carlos Salcido, Andres Guardado, Jesus Zavala, Angel Reyna
FW: Javier Hernandez, Aldo De Nigris
The one notable name missing from Jorge de la Torre's projected lineup is Giovani dos Santos.
With one of the key players in the midfield missing, look for Guardado to step up and be the star in midfield against Costa Rica.
Chicharito and De Nigris have been the preferred pair up front so far in qualifying and will stay as the two starters in that position on Friday.
Off the bench, Marco Fabian, who was one of the breakout stars of the Olympics, could get a chance to play in midfield.
Mexico 3, Costa Rica 0
Even with Costa Rica playing in front of their home fans, they will not be able to pull off an upset against Mexico.
Mexico is on a mission to get through qualifying as quick as possible.
With a win on Friday and one next Tuesday at Azteca over Costa Rica, El Tri will advance into the final round of qualifying.
Mexico has the better players on the pitch and will be able to shut down Saborio in the Costa Rican attack.
Look for Mexico to hold possession for most of the match and strike early in the first half to set the tone of the match.