Why Costa Rica Goalkeeper Keylor Navas Is Los Ticos' Key Man

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2014

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Goalkeeper Keylor Navas of Costa Rica makes a save on Daniel Sturridge of England during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Costa Rica and England at Estadio Mineirao on June 24, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Keylor Navas did it again, as he helped his team secure a draw against England.

The Costa Rica goalkeeper allowed one goal in the group stage, giving up a penalty kick to Edinson Cavani. His performance has been key in Los Ticos' success.

Navas, who currently plays for Spanish club Levante, has been a thriving force for Costa Rica. His leadership and courage on the pitch were fundamental.



In an unfortunate turn of events, Los Ticos conceded a penalty kick in the first half of the match. The timing couldn't have been worse, as the team was clearly not comfortable on the pitch.

Uruguay could have extended their lead, but Navas made a couple of key saves.

Advanced stats website Squawka.com shows that the Costa Rican goalkeeper won all the aerial duels in which he was involved and had three saves, two of those in the second half.

FIFA.com registered the distance Navas covered as 4,569 meters, as well as five sprints.

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The 27-year-old's play improved, and he stunned the Italians in an even better performance than he had against Uruguay.

He made four saves, three of those in the last 45 minutes. He denied shots from the boots of Matteo Darmian and Antonio Cassano, both from outside the box and from close range, according to Squawka.com.

His performance resulted in his first clean sheet of the tournament. But it was also a loud statement of how important he was in Costa Rica's back line.

Navas proved to be quite a leader. He kept the centre-backs organized and focused, mainly in set pieces.

The five-man line, consisting Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Oscar Duarte, Cristian Gamboa and Junior Diaz, were accurate on 81 percent of their passes, had 10 interceptions and 18 clearances. They also won 75 percent of their aerial duels (per Squawka.com).


His performance continued to improve. Navas kept his goal untouched with a fantastic display of technique and commitment. 

He could have played a bit more relaxed without compromising his well-being, but he still went into the pitch and gave it all.

Squawka.com gave him a 61 performance score, his highest from the three group-stage matches. Navas had three saves, one clearance, and one interception; he also created one goal opportunity.

The @BudweiserFC #ManoftheMatch for #CRCENG is @LevanteUD's KEYLOR NAVAS (@NavasKeylor) #CRC - http://t.co/dz1hexTDBJ

— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) June 24, 2014

What to expect

Costa Rica have proven to be a complete team, one which can generate plays from the flanks or the center of the pitch easily.

The squad has very dangerous players, such as Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz, who can change the score in the blink of an eye.

However, they will rely on Navas like they have been doing to keep a tight defense and hopefully to continue in the same track.

Navas will continue to perform brilliantly; he has faced some of the most lethal strikers in world football, players like Edinson Cavani, Mario Balotelli and Wayne Rooney, but has kept his team safe.

He will face Greece, which means Georgios Samaras,Kostas Mitroglou an dAndreas Samaris, just to name a few.

Navas' talent and personality could very well be two key elements to help Costa Rica reach the quarterfinals for the first time.

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