2014 World Cup team preview: Costa Rica

Leave a comment

Getting to know… Costa Rica: Their 1990 visit to the Round of 16 is well behind them, as is their FIFA-best No. 17 rating. Costa Rica makes a return to the World Cup after an absence in 2010, so will we see the team that’s beaten Paraguay and Mexico in the past year, or the one that’s been skunked by Chile, Australia and South Korea to the tune of 6-0 in friendlies across the year’s end and beginning?

Record in qualifying: Qualified second to the United States in CONCACAF with a 5W-3D-2L record. Went 5-0 at home, with road losses to the US and Honduras.

What group are they in? Yeesh. Group D with Uruguay, England and Italy.

Game schedule: Group D

14 June, 16:00, Fortaleza – Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
20 June, 13:00, Recife – Italy vs. Costa Rica
24 June, 13:00, Belo Horizonte– Costa Rica vs. England

Star player: Bryan Ruiz

It has to be the captain, especially with Alvaro Saborio breaking his foot in training last week. Ruiz spent last season on loan to PSV Eindhoven from Fulham, and fills a bit of a Clint Dempsey role for Ticos. He can be an attacking midfielder, fly in from the flanks or be a classic second striker.

Ruiz has shone for his country despite some struggles to make an impact at Fulham. He’s scored all over the continent, otherwise, and tends to be a bit of a talisman for Costa Rica.

Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto

The 61-year-old Colombian has also led his native team as well as myriad clubs. Pinto also led Costa Rica in 2004-05, but has a mighty task ahead of him in a group as deadly as any in Brazil.

Secret weapon: Underdog status

The Costa Rican team has to know that, if possible at World Cup, teams might overlook them in a group with Italy, England and Uruguay. Yes, perhaps Costa Rica can slip under the radar and a shock win over a recuperating Luis Suarez and Uruguay to open the tournament is a necessity.

Prediction: Costa Rica finishes at the bottom of Group D.

Liverpool to lose $82m Alisson to Real; Klopp turns to Lazio GK?

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Leave a comment

Brazilian national team starter and Liverpool transfer target Alisson looks increasingly likely to only see Anfield as a visitor.

Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport says Real Madrid is going to tempt Roma with an $82 million bid that could rise with add-ons.

[ MORE: Lozano to Barcelona? ]

And Real would also offer a near $6 million annual salary to the Brazilian backstop.

It’s coincidence that this news comes on the day that both Alisson and current Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas were at opposite ends of the pitch.

Alisson had little to do, while Costa Rican backstop Navas was outstanding until Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored during stoppage time.

Meanwhile, TalkSport says the Reds are in on a different Serie A goalkeeper: Lazio’s Albanian backstop Thomas Strakosha.

The 23-year-old old played all 38 league games for the Roman club this season.

Lozano to Barcelona? Father says future decided after World Cup

YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mexican hero Hirving “Chucky” Lozano made the jump from Liga MX to European football last summer, and now may be set for an even bigger move.

We just won’t know until after the World Cup.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The goal scorer from Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany will turn 23 in late July, and is coming off a 17-goal, 11-assist campaign with PSV Eindhoven.

He’s now being linked with Barcelona amongst other teams, and his father was asked about Lozano’s future. From ESPN:

“There have been approaches, but right now there’s nothing concrete,” Jesus Lozano said in an interview with ESPN when asked about reported interest from Barcelona and other teams.

“I think after the World Cup it will be clear if he stays at PSV or leaves for another team.”

So what do you think? Should the Mexican stay at PSV for playing time? I’m kidding… see how you sound, U.S. fans?

Nigeria beats Iceland; Argentina still alive

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
1 Comment

Ahmed Musa scored a pair of terrific goals as Nigeria set up Group D for a thrilling final day with a 2-0 win over Iceland in Volgograd on Friday.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was arguably Iceland’s Man of the Match before he sent a penalty kick over the bar.

Nigeria now has three points, two more than Argentina and Iceland. Nigeria plays Argentina and Croatia faces Iceland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Gylfi Sigurdsson swung a dangerous early free kick over the bar, then produced the game’s second chance. That one was caught by Francis Uzoho, the 19-year-old Deportivo de la Coruna backstop.

Nigeria’s breakthrough came courtesy a lethal counter attack, as Kenneth Omeruo headed a cross clear of the Eagles’ 18. Kelechi Iheanacho collected and found Victor Moses racing down the right flank.

Moses’ cross was collected by Musa with an unorthodox outside of the boot trap, allowing him a second against his surprised mark. Musa lashed home for 1-0.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The game was delayed for a bit when Ragnar Sigurdsson was waylaid with a head injury.

Wilfred Ndidi had a rip deflected over the bar in the 57th, and Nigeria opted for a short corner.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Musa then basically put it to bed when he cut into the 18 and danced around two defenders with the goalkeeper in between before putting a composed finish into the goal.

Iceland got new life through an 81st minute penalty kick awarded via Video Assistant Referee, but Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed it over the bar.

Jorginho to Man City? Italian report, Noel Gallagher say so

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I like my transfer news served up piping fresh from the hot stove of Oasis.

Well, at least ex-members of Oasis.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Noted Man City fanatic Noel Gallagher was performing in Naples on Friday with his band the High Flying Birds.

After pumping through a couple Oasis tunes and a cover of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” on Thursday, the singer tossed a little banter toward the crowd.

You see, Man City really wants Napoli midfielder Jorginho, and Gallagher at least looks like a man in the know as Italy’s Corriere Della Sport is reporting that the midfielder is trading his blue shirts between countries.

Jorginho will cost City $57 million, according to the report, which follows this barb from Noel.