Keylor Navas

Getty Images

Emery shoots down Keylor Navas rumor

Leave a comment

There has been lots of talk regarding Arsenal’s potential interest in Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the last few weeks, with the Costa Rican obviously unhappy at being replaced by Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid brought the Belgian in this summer, relegating Navas to the bench. With Navas still regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, it naturally brought about speculation regarding his potential move away from the Bernebeu. Many believed Arsenal to be a great fit, with Petr Cech benched by Unai Emery and Bernd Leno not exactly lighting up the stat sheet.

Emery brought an end to that speculation on Thursday, leaving nothing to the imagination when asked about the speculation at his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup match against Blackpool.

“Not true,” Emery said defiantly. “We never speak about one goalkeeper because I think – and it’s true – we are very happy with the three goalkeepers we have now. We’ve never spoken about Keylor Navas.”

Emery mentions his “three goalkeepers” suggesting that even third-stringer Emiliano Martinez’s position is safe at the moment.

Leno took over for Cech in late September after Cech went down with a hamstring injury, and the German never relinquished his position between the sticks. Cech missed two matches but has returned only to a spot on the bench. Still, Arsenal has conceded 31 goals this season, far more than any of the four teams above them in the Premier League table. Much of that can be explained by the defensive struggles the team has been forced to navigate, but the goalkeepers should also naturally share some of that blame.

Still, it appears that Navas will have to find another club to rescue him from the Real Madrid bench, with Arsenal all but out of the running.

Official: Chelsea sends Courtois to Madrid, signs Kepa for record fee

Getty Images
2 Comments

It truly is the summer of goalkeepers.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is officially headed to Real Madrid after the Blues confirmed they have reached an agreement on for his transfer.

According to the official club release, written in obnoxiously large font, Courtois still must agree to personal terms with Madrid and complete a medical. In the other direction comes midfielder Mateo Kovacic on a season-long loan, bolstering Chelsea’s already strong midfield ranks. Kovacic must also complete a medical to rubber stamp the deal.

Reports over the last few days have suggested that Chelsea would block Courtois’s move to Madrid, despite pleas from his agent, with the club failing in its search for a replacement. Now, the transfer is a reality.

Coming to the Blues in the other direction is rising Croatian talent Kovacic, who fits in nicely to the Chelsea midfield and could play an important role in the buildup-based system new manager Mauricio Sarri plans to implement. The midfield ranks are crowded, with Ngolo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater all on the roster, although Bakayoko has been the subject of loan rumors of late.

Hours later, Chelsea announced the signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for a fee of $92 million, a record for a goalkeeper that breaks Liverpool’s signing of Alisson earlier this window. The 23-year-old comes highly rated, yet highly inexperienced. He has just 53 top flight appearances in his career between an earlier loan at Real Valladolid and this past season with the Athletic senior side.

All of this also has a major effect on incumbent Real Madrid starter Keylor Navas, who has won three straight Champions League titles with Los Blancos. The Costa Rican is well-liked in Madrid, but with so many top goalkeepers linked to the club over the past few windows, it seems as if Florentino Perez has been trying to replace him for years.

Coutinho saves Brazil from Neymar’s VAR humiliation

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Leave a comment

Dominant Brazil needed stoppage time to find a way past Costa Rican backstop Keylor Navas and pick up a 2-0 win in Saint Petersburg on Friday.

Neymar embarrassingly saw an awarded penalty overturned when he flopped instead of shooting following a tug from Giancarlo Gonzalez, but Philippe Coutinho toe-poked a shot through Navas’ legs in the first of six stoppage time minutes.

Neymar would later add a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time from Douglas Costa.

Brazil finishes the group stage with Serbia, while Costa Rica waits on Switzerland.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Brazil controlled the first 12 minutes of the match, but Costa Rica just missed a bid to make it 1-0 against the run of play.

Deportivo La Coruña midfielder Celso Borges darted into the box to drag a low shot just wide of the far post.

Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the back of the goal in the 26th minute, but was deemed offside. And Keylor Navas stymied another Brazil rush a minute later.

But Costa Rica’s packed-in camp held Brazil at bay into the break.

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

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Brazil fired out of the gates to start the second half, and Navas was again busy as Neymar clattered into him in search of a loose ball. Well, kinda loose.

When Philippe Coutinho’s hammered shot was blocked out for a corner, it simultaneously felt like Brazil’s goal was either inevitable or destined to not arrive.

Navas then pushed a Neymar point-blank bid over the bar.

Tite opted to bring on Roberto Firmino, but Navas kept up his heroics by collecting a header off another Brazil corner.

The possibility of a scoreless draw felt even more likely when Neymar stole the ball and whipped a 21-yard shot just off the upper 90.

Neymar looked to have a won a penalty kick when Gonzalez tugged him in the six, but VAR overturned the call.

Kolarov blast guides Serbia past Costa Rica

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
1 Comment

Group E opened up on Sunday with a thrilling match in Samara, where Serbia topped Costa Rica, 1-0.

It looked as if Keylor Navas wouldn’t be beat on the day, however, Aleksandar Kolarov had other ideas with his sublime free kick 11 minutes into the second half.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

It took the Serbia goal to really spark life out of the Costa Rica attack, however, the Europeans held strong and remained compact defensively to keep the Ticos off the scoreboard.

Aleksandar Mitrovic nearly gave Serbia a second finish in the final moments of the match, after Sergej Malinkovic-Savic picked out an ideal through ball to his teammate, who couldn’t find a shot on target.

Both sides struggled to find a rhythm in the opening half, despite Serbia’s dictation of pace with their strong midfield.

Mitrovic boasted the lone shot on target for the European nation, when he tested Keylor Navas in the 13th minute, while Los Ticos had a quality chance of their own a minute prior through a Giancarlo Gonzalez header from close range.

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

Mitrovic was stopped again by Navas in the 50th minute after the Fulham striker found himself one-on-one with the Real Madrid keeper.

The Ticos will return to group action on June 22 against favorites Brazil, while Serbia will meet fellow European side Switzerland the same day.

2018 World Cup team preview: Costa Rica

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Getting to know Costa Rica: One of the most perennially underrated teams, Costa Rica is a threat to the world soccer order each time they take the field. With a solid mix of good attacking talent and a solid defensive base, Costa Rica has the experience and flair to prove a challenge for even the biggest world powers.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Last World Cup, Costa Rica won a power group consisting of Italy, England, and Uruguay conceding just one goal among those three games – that alone should prove to teams not to take Los Ticos lightly. They beat Greece in the Round of 16 before their luck against European sides eventually ran out in a quarterfinal loss to the Netherlands in a penalty shootout.

All that being said, the run-up to the World Cup this time around has been anything but promising. Los Ticos have suffered friendly shutout losses to Hungary, Tunisia, and England all since last November, and before that got plastered by Spain. They have one more stiff test against Belgium to turn the bad juju around, or else they head into the tournament on a very sour note. There are questions about the age of the squad core, leaving this team with one of the highest ceilings and lowest floors of any team at the competition.

For more on Costa Rica’s World Cup adventure, click here.


What group are they in? Group E alongside Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia. It’s a group with few genuinely weak teams, and second place will be up for grabs behind perennial powerhouse Brazil. Switzerland is the favored side to take the second spot, but it’s not exactly stiff competition. If Costa Rica can summon the magic of four years ago, it would be anything but a surprise to see them advance to the knockout stages.


Game schedule – Group E

Sunday, June 17: Costa Rica v Serbia, Samara 8am, ET
Friday, June 22: Brazil v Costa Rica, Saint Petersburg 8am, ET
Wednesday, June 27: Switzerland v Costa Rica, Novgorod 2pm, ET


Projected lineup (5-4-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Navas —–

— Gamboa — Acosta — Gonzalez — Duarte — Oviedo —

— Campbell — Borges — Tejeda — Ruiz

— Urena/Venegas —


Star player: Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas is easily the most well-known player on this squad. The vice-captain of the side gives Costa Rica an experience edge, having played at the highest of high levels. Navas is coming off his third straight Champions League title at Madrid, and will likely reach the 80-cap mark with Costa Rica at this tournament. Navas used his brilliant performance at the 2014 World Cup to earn his move to Real Madrid, and four years later will have the weight of a country on his shoulders.


Manager: Óscar Ramírez leads his home nation to the World Cup for the first time, having taken over in 2015. Ramirez was in the right place at the right time, hired as an assistant to Paulo Wanchope in August of 2015 only to find himself as the lead man a week later following Wanchope’s dismissal after a fight. Ramirez lost his first match in charge of Los Ticos – to Brazil 1-0 on a 10th minute goal by Hulk. He will look to get revenge on the biggest of stages.


Secret weapon: Bryan Ruiz is the captain and creative force for Costa Rica, and has been for years. He was often described as “too good” for Fulham during his four years at Craven Cottage as nobody could figure out how to correctly deploy the midfielder, but he has run the show for his home country time and time again. Ruiz is known for his pitch vision and field marshal mentality, but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when necessary.


Prediction: As mentioned before, the ceiling is just as high for this Costa Rica side as the floor is low, and Group E is one of the toughest to predict in the tournament. If they can steal a point from Brazil, the knockout stages will beckon for Ramirez and company, but the match against Switzerland to close out group stage play will likely be the judgement of their fate. Look for them to make it through for the second straight World Cup.