Costa Rica will play against the Mexican national team in possibly the most interesting and competitive match in Group B this Friday, September 7, 2012 at 10:00 PM EDT in the Estadio Nacional of San Jose, Costa Rica. This match of CONCACAF Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying will be a face-off between the group’s two most talented teams, but most importantly, it will be the strongest test for Mexico in this round because they face Costa Rica on their home turf. Currently Mexico is in first place of Group B with six points in two games, but Costa Rica could quickly take the lead in the group as they have four points and a victory would put them with seven, one ahead of Mexico.
Costa Rica’s first game in the qualifiers was a difficult tie against El Salvador, but against Guyana they obtained an easy victory. Their leader and best player, Bryan Ruiz, could be out of this match with an injury, and nonetheless it will be a big loss. In order for Costa Rica to win, they will have to play at top form, playing a smart defensive game, but not on the counter-attack. A counter-attacking game suggests Mexico will have possession of the ball, which would allow the tricolor to attack consistently. Therefore, if Ruiz is unable to play, the Costa Rican attack will be led by young Joel Campbell who has the speed and aerial ability to hurt Mexico’s defense.
Costa Rica roster:
Goalkeepers – Keylor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense)
Defenders – Pedro Leal (Puntarenas), Nestor Monge (Perez Zeledon), Michael Umana (Comunicaciones), Roy Miller (New York), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Valerenga), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Jhonny Acosta (Alajuelense), Gabriel Badilla (Saprissa)
Midfielders – Celso Borges (AIK), Michael Barrantes (Aalesunds), Oscar Rojas (La Piedad), Christian Bolanos (Copenhagen), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (Portland), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa)
Forwards – Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Ruiz (Fulham), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa)
The Mexican national team lost its last game in a friendly in a game against the United States in the Estadio Azteca. Although a friendly, this was a hard blow to a team that had only lost previously once to CONCACAF teams at the Azteca; that team being Costa Rica in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. Ever since that 2001 game, Mexico has played exceptionally against the ‘ticos’, and this Friday it should be no different. Although Mexico will not count with Pablo Barrera and Giovani Dos Santos due to injury, this is a talented squad that has experienced players like Carlos Salcido, Andres Guardado, and Javier Hernandez. Moreover, coach Jose Manuel De La Torre called nine Olympic gold medalists, among them Oribe Peralta, Marco Fabian, and Javier Aquino, who will play on Barrera’s position. In order for Mexico to win, they need to have a solid and concentrated defense because deconcentration is what typically causes Mexico to receive goals. It is expected Mexico will play with Chicharito and Peralta up top, but the question is who will provide them with the ball. There is no Giovani to play down the middle, therefore Guardado and Aquino have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.
Prediction: Mexico will have a difficult match in Costa Rica, and the loss of Giovani means there will be too much gap between the defense and the offense – no attacking midfield. Costa Rica has all the support of the Estadio Nacional, and they will play at their best. I would give Mexico the advantage, but doing this means the tricolor would have a perfect round, or six out of six points. This will be Mexico’s only tie during the round, but expect the tricolor to win the final three matches after this game. The score will be Costa Rica 1-1 Mexico.
Television: The Costa Rica vs. Mexico match will be shown on Telemundo this Friday, September 7 at 10:00 PM Eastern.