England face Costa Rica in both teams final game in group D. England are already out of the World Cup after losing their previous games to Italy and Uruguay. Roy Hodgson’s men will be looking to salvage some pride by putting in a good performance and getting a favourable result. Costa Rica have already qualified for the knock-out stages to the surprise of many. They have beaten Uruguay and Italy in their previous two games, and a point against England will see them top the group. The Costa Ricans have reached the Round of 16 in the World Cup for the second time in their history. They will want to gain some momentum by beating England and go into the Round of 16 with confidence.
Roy Hodgson is expected to reign a whole host of changes for England. Leighton Baines will miss the game with a muscle injury. Luke Shaw will therefore come into the team. Frank Lampard, Phil Jones and Ross Barkley will start. Jack Wilshere, James Milner and Adam Lallana could be handed starts. Rickie Lambert could also feature.
Costa Rica are expected to name the same team they named for the game against Italy. Joel Campbell should continue in attack. Captain Bryan Ruiz will continue to lead the side.
The game will be the first ever meeting between England and Costa Rica and England go into the game knowing they will go out in the World Cup group stages for the first time since 1958. England have never lost every single game in a World Cup. Costa Rica have scored in all the seven games they have played against European opposition. Costa Rica have already scored more than the three goals they managed in their last World Cup in 2006. The last time Costa Rica reached the knock-out stages in 1990. They went out to Czechoslovakia that year.
Ross Barkley will be given a start for England and in a dead rubber fixture such as this one, he will want to stake his claim for a starting position in the England team after the World Cup. Barkley has shown some flashes of brilliance this season for Everton. He managed to score six goals this season, a tally he is likely to improve next season. Whilst playing for England, he has brought the same confidence and ability in recent games. He came on as a sub in both of England’s previous group games, and he did not look at all out of place. He has the ability to test Costa Rica’s defence which is yet to have faced any real trouble. With England likely to make wholesale changes, Barkley and the rest of his team will be fresh for the game.
Bryan Ruiz is a name that will be familiar with most fans in England. The Costa Rican has had his last three seasons at Fulham, although last season he moved to PSV on loan. Ruiz has been seen as luxury player for much of his time in the Premier League, but he captains his international side and has managed 14 goals in 65 appearances. Ruiz scored the all-important goal against Italy in Costa Rica’s last game. This important goal is one that will give him confidence going into the game against England. Ruiz will feel like he has something to prove to the England fans. He only managed eight goals in 68 games during his time in the Premier League for Fulham. He will be determined to show the ability that made Fulham shell out £10.6 million.
Although England are out, both teams in theory still have something to play for. England are playing for pride, whereas the Costa Rican’s are playing to top the group and have the easier draw in the Round of 16. Costa Rica have shown that they can mix it with the bigger teams in international football. They were expected to be the whipping boys of this group, but they have been the complete opposite. England have not got going in this tournament, but have been unfortunate at times. I predict a 1-1 draw.