Uruguay vs. Costa Rica, 2014 World Cup: A primer for new fans

Laurence Griffiths

Uruguay are actually the best-ranked team in their group, but they are almost certainly not the best. Costa Rica, meanwhile, could give them a few surprises.

Uruguay are in a tricky group with England and Italy vying with them for the two qualification spots, but the South Americans are actually the highest-ranked country in it. But mo' FIFA rankings, mo' problems...

Playing styles

Uruguay have tended to line up in a pretty meat-and-potatoes 4-4-2, which allows them to operate with width while deploying their two world-class strikers. Simple. They're not an overly-attacking side, and had a series of major scares in qualifying, but they should have more than enough to get the business done against Costa Rica.

Their midfield is pretty good, too - a selection of decent ball-played and hatchet-men with good wingers, but they may have problems in defence. Diego Lugano has had an utterly dreadful season, and they'll be hoping Diego Godin, who had a very good year with Atletico Madrid, will balance that out. This is a somewhat shaky side put out by Uruguay, and nobody knows for sure how they'll end up doing.

Costa Rica, meanwhile, tend to play a more 4-4-1 or 4-3-3-ish shape, and like to sit back and attack on the counter using the pace from their forwards. They also have a fine goalkeeper to aid their defence, and if they're well-organised enough, they can certainly frustrate Uruguay while getting at their opponents' slow, cumbersome backline. This is not going to be a sure thing.

Uruguay's stars

Obvious here - Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. Two world-class forwards in their prime, the pair also offer contrasting styles. Suarez is nimble, creative, diminutive, inventive, and an unspeakably black-hearted villain. Edinson Cavani is big, strong, powerful, direct, and loveable. However, there are a couple of problems here. Suarez has had a wonderful season, but he's not yet 100% fit and could struggle in the early stages, which problematically, is when Uruguay will be up against it right from the start. And Cavani is just coming off the back of a hugely disappointing debut season for Paris Saint-Germain.

They're not without talent elsewhere, though. Nicolas Lodeiro has vastly improved since he returned to South America, and he'll be their key creator in midfield, while Cristian Rodriguez is a fine winger on his day who can score and create goals while providing width. Beating Costa Rica won't hinge on Suarez and Cavani, but getting out of the group and going further in the tournament almost certainly will.

Costa Rica's stars

This is probably the best side Costa Rica have ever had, so it's a shame for them that they ended up with such a tricky group. Keylor Navas is one diamond, who has been one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga and could be set up for a big-money move, while Joel Campbell has also flourished on loan at Olympiakos. Celso Borges is also a very dangerous player, but frustratingly for the central Americans, two other stars in Bryan Oviedo and Alvaro Saborio will also not be involved due to injury.

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