Costa Rica vs. England: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group D Match

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 24, 2014

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 14: Joel Campbell of Costa Rica celebrates after defeating Uruguay 3-1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at Castelao on June 14, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The final set of FIFA World Cup 2014 group games is upon us—where on earth did the time go?

Here we analyse Costa Rica vs. England, with one side attempting to win Group D, while the other can only seek pride in their performance. Amazingly, Costa Rica are the former.


Costa Rica

It doesn't matter what happens here; the Ticos are in dreamland regardless.

During qualifying, they were renowned for their steely defensive setup but not really expected to hold against the big guns, and an injury to Alvaro Saborio—the nation's top striker—further clouded their chances of success.


But fresh victories have emerged in nearly every position, with Oscar Duarte displacing Johnny Acosta and performing brilliantly, Junior Diaz excelling, Cristian Gamboa displaying limitless energy and Joel Campbell carrying the offensive effort.

They're already through to the knockout stages, but securing first and avoiding Colombia will be what coach Jorge Luis Pinto is aiming for.



In stark contrast, England's World Cup campaign has come crashing down around them.

All the right noises emanated from the camp during the buildup, but two one-goal losses to two very good teams have them packing their bags after this fixture. It's the worst performance at a finals since 1958.


Roy Hodgson is expected to wheel out the reserves and squad players here to give them a taste of football in Brazil, so expect heavy rotation and a potential change in formation.

"We went out and played with no fear. We have a promising young side, hopefully we can gel together and in the future have many more happy memories," Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports ahead of the game.

That future starts now, so expect Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley to start.


2 Tactical Clashes

1. Take-ons

England have a squad packed with dribblers, and while they've been relatively useless against Italy and Uruguay's low blocks, they could find some joy against Costa Rica.

As impressive as their win against Italy was, they danced with lady luck using a high defensive line. The Azzurri mistimed all of their runs in behind and got called offside; a little patience and we're talking four goals to the good.

If the Ticos try that again, they'll get punished, and if they engage England high up, they'll either be left in the dust or be forced to commit tonnes of fouls. 

England attempted take-ons vs. Italy.
England attempted take-ons vs.


2. Campbell Roams

Against Uruguay, Costa Rica forward Campbell sat between the lines, received passes and turned to create chaos. Against Italy, space was harder to come by, but he showed his ability to relieve his team and be a threat in the box.

England surrendered a tonne of space behind the midfield against Italy—space which Antonio Candreva and Claudio Marchisio took great delight in manipulating—and Campbell will look to take up similar positions versus the Three Lions on Tuesday.

If you stop Campbell, the Ticos find it difficult to move out of defence.


Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.