Story of the half: Well, nobody expected anything different. With the game goalless at the break, you can collect your prize money.
Costa Rica had a few opportunities for break-away chances, but came up empty as Greece made mistakes in the midfield but not at the back, and they get through the first 45 without conceding just as they’d planned for.
They failed to entertain the crowd or the viewers, and received a shower of boos from the Recife crew for their efforts (or lack thereof) but the Greeks won’t trade less boos for more goals.
The Costa Ricans, heavily favored in this match having shown an attacking flair, were pegged down for much of it, but definitely had some opportunities to build on a counter and weren’t able to do so.
The best chance fell to Greece late in the half, but a good save from the Costa Rican goalkeeper kept them out in an otherwise listless half.
FOLLOW LIVE: Soccerly’s real-time match center
Other key moments:
6′ – a poor back-pass by Andreas Samaris went right to Joel Campbell and started a 3-on-3 break for Costa Rica, but the Greek defense got back in time to cover and Giorgis Karagounis completed a solid tackle on his Fulham teammate Bryan Ruiz to end the threat.
20′ – The crowd grew restless, and fed up with the failure of Greece to advance possession, began booing.
26′ – Another great counter opportunity for Costa Rica, this time 4-on-3, results in failure again. Celso Borges tried to spring a forward with a through ball but it’s cut out by Lazaros Christodoulopoulos.
37′ – Best chance of the game oddly enough falls to Greece. A beautiful cross from Greece’s Jose Cholevas found the charging feet of Dimitris Salpigidis, but it’s bested by a fabulous reflex save by Keylor Navas.
Costa Rica: Navas; Gonzalez, Duarte, Gamboa, Umaña, Diaz; Borges, Bolanos, Tejeda; Ruiz; Campbell.
Greece: Karnezis, Maniatis, Manolas, Samaras, Karagounis, Salpingidis, Torosidis, Lazaros, Sokratis, Cholevas, Samaris.
Giorgis Karagounis – The Greek engine in the middle was predictably all over the pitch, throwing his body into vital challenges and working in possession as well. Karagounis completed 18 of his 19 passes, and was successful in all three of his challenges, including the important one mentioned above on Ruiz.
Oscar Duarte – Completing 32 of 36 passes in the first half, Duarte was Costa Rica’s heaviest passer in the first half as they looked to press up the right flank. However, most of his passes were square across the pitch into the middle or backwards as they were pinched in. Greece did a good job holding the Costa Ricans back.
Numbers to know:
6 – Number of times Greece forwards were called offsides. Costa Rica did not have the flag go up against them.
61% – Percentage of passes completed by Costa Rica in the attacking half.
3 – Costa Rican shots on goal, none of which were on target.
Questions for the second half:
1. Can Costa Rica clean up the sloppiness and unlock Greece? The Greeks never really even came close to slipping in defense, and thus far the Costa Ricans look flabbergasted in their attempts forward. Their pressure is good and covering of passing lanes even better. Costa Rica, however, were sloppy, and will need to clean it up if they hope to have any solid chances on goal.
2. Will Greece pick out the right spot? Despite their defensive nature, the Greeks had the better opportunities at the front, and if not for a good save and a few brain farts by Giorgos Samaras straying offside, they may have broken through. They are good at picking their spots and not trying to pick out a shot that isn’t there, so if Costa Rica continue to struggle on net, the Greeks may eventually be the ones to get on the scorebook first, which would be devastating for Costa Rica.