Key Battles That Will Shape Costa Rica's World Cup Clash with Uruguay

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

Key Battles That Will Shape Costa Rica's World Cup Clash with Uruguay

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    Costa Rica will debut in their fourth World Cup on June 14 when they face Uruguay at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza and the clash will not be an easy feat.

    Los Ticos suffered two major blows days away from their debut. Alvaro Saborio fractured his fifth metatarsal and Heiner Mora broke his heel.

    This will be a key match for Costa Rica because they share group with two European heavyweights: Italy and England.

    Coach Jorge Luis Pinto knows his side needs to impress and play like never before to secure its first win in Brazil and their second overall in World Cups.

    This match could very well serve Costa Rica as a vendetta, after Uruguay eliminated them in the 2010 World Cup playoff.

    All advance stats courtesy of, unless otherwise noted.

Keylor Navas vs. Edinson Cavani

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    Costa Rica has a safe goalkeeper who has been atop with both the national team and Levante, his club.

    Keylor Navas was key in Los Ticos' qualifying process. Costa Rica not only claimed the second place of the Hexagonal, but Navas was the best goalkeeper of the tournament as he only received seven goals.

    He is no stranger to world-class forwards. In La Liga he has faced Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Diego Costa. Now he will meet Edinson Cavani.

    The Paris Saint-Germain striker has already played a World Cup. Four years ago, he scored once in the third-place match.

    There are a lot of expectations over Cavani since Luis Suarez may be a substitute in the game, as reported by The Guardian's Jamie Jackson.

    Navas needs to be very concentrated because Cavani has incredible ball control and accuracy. Plus he will try to score soon to give Uruguay the edge.

Michael Umana vs. Gaston Ramirez

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    Michael Umana is one of the most experienced footballers on the team. He is 31 years old and has played 83 games with Costa Rica.

    He is the leader of the back line, which puts him in a key position to cut the attack from Los Charruas that have proven to be in great shape, especially in the attacking zone.

    Gaston Ramirez, a 23-year-old who plays for Southampton, is the kind of player who takes advantage of defensive mistakes to create plays and give his teammates goal opportunities.

    Uruguay has been a very defensive team in the past four years, which push them to capitalize every shot they have. Ramirez's speed and ball distribution set him as a lethal player.

    Umana, who is not getting any younger, must step up to try and stop Ramirez.

Celso Borges vs Egidio Arevalo

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    The midfield will be one of the most important factors in the game. The team that manages to control it and the one that distributes the ball better will have a huge advantage.

    This is where Celso Borges and Arevalo Rios appear. Both players have fine touch and technique, which are key for their respective teams.

    There will be a very interesting fight in that line. Borges plays for Swedish club AIK, while Arevalo wears Mexican club Tigres' jersey.

    Borges has come a long way. He has turned to be a great asset for the attacking zone because he can help the forwards with through passes and wall passes.

    Rios is one of the fiercest footballers we'll see on the pitch. His physical attributes allow him to run up and down on a regular basis.

Bryan Ruiz vs. Diego Lugano

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    Bryan Ruiz is Costa Rica's mastermind. He is a very intelligent player who pulls the strings of Los Ticos.

    He can shoot from long distance or at close range at ease, which sets him as a fantastic partner for Campbell, who will probably play alone on the front.

    Ruiz's ball recovery is sharp, while his distribution tends to be one of his strongest skills.

    Currently playing for PSV, Ruiz scored five goals in 14 appearances and won 60 percent of the duels in which he was involved, as reported by advanced stats website Squawka.

    Diego Lugano needs to keep a tight defense to cut the Costa Rican attacks. The centre-back's leadership and experience will be the decisive factors in this battle.

Joel Campbell vs Fernando Muslera

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    Coach Jorge Luis Pinto needs Joel Campbell at his best after Alvaro Saborio's injury.

    During last year's Hexagonal, Saborio played in the front and scored eight times, including key goals against the United States and Mexico.

    Campbell will not only take over his spot, he will do so in his first World Cup. But make no mistake, he is a lethal striker who plays for Olympiakos and despite being 21 years old, he has proven to be fit and mature enough to tackle the challenge.

    Campbell will rely on his speed and accuracy when it comes to facing Fernando Muslera.

    Uruguay's goalkeeper made 18 saves in the World Cup qualifier, plus 23 at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 13 more in international friendlies between 2013 and 2014.

    He has proven to be one of the most reliable keepers and will be playing his second World Cup in Brazil.