• Tuesday Jun 24, 2014

    Three Points: Costa Rica v England Preview

    The play of Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas (pictured) has been key to his team's success at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)

    BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Costa Rica will follow a famous victory over Italy with an encounter against another past World Cup champion, when it faces England on Tuesday at the Estadio Mineirão.

    Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:

    1) For Costa Rica, one point wins the group

    The arithmetic is simple: with a win or a draw, Costa Rica – which has already sealed advancement past the group stage -- will claim the top spot in Group D and earn the right to play the runner-up from Group C in the round of 16.  A loss to England, depending on the result and the final score of Italy-Uruguay, could see the Central American champion drop to second place.

    2) Keylor Navas has been superb

    The secret is out.  After proving himself a revelation this past season with Levante of Spain’s La Liga, Navas has been one of this World Cup’s outstanding goalkeepers.  As fantastic (and timely) saves would attest, his role in the Ticos’ rise has been absolutely pivotal.  A stop off a deflected shot from Uruguay’s Diego Forlan in the opener kept the Costa Ricans within striking distance early.  Against Italy, the 27-year-old was stellar, recording Costa Rica’s first World Cup clean-sheet since a 2-0 shutout of China in 2002.

    3) Ticos making their mark on Brazil

    Costa Rica has taken the 2014 World Cup by storm.  Imprinting their own unique brand of soccer on the tournament, the Ticos have been wildly entertaining and effective.  By playing a high defensive line and scoring memorable goals, Costa Rica has defied the odds in outdoing Uruguay and Italy -- two previous World Cup winners.

    On Tuesday, the Ticos have an opportunity to knock off another former champion, England, and firmly plant themselves at the top of one of the most competitive groups in the field.  It would be nothing short of the finest accomplishment in Costa Rica’s World Cup history.

    BONUS POINTS

    •  This will be the first-ever meeting between Costa Rica and England.
    •  Costa Rica has 3 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses in seven previous World Cup matches against European opposition.
    • Costa Rica has never been shutout by a European team in a World Cup game.
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