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Costa Rica vs. England, 2014 World Cup preview: Ticos look to win Group D

Costa Rica will look to win Group D by picking up a point against eliminated England on Tuesday.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

Costa Rica have upset all the odds to win both of their first two group games and progress into the World Cup knockout stages for the first time since they reached the Round of 16 in 1990. However, the Ticos certainly won't want to cruise through their final group game against England, as they'll look to secure the top spot and an easier draw in the next round. A draw would be enough for them to do so.

England, meanwhile, have enjoyed an embarrassingly poor World Cup, and will be heading home after this match. Defeats to Italy and Uruguay have left the Three Lions rock bottom of Group D, and they'll just be looking to salvage some pride from their final match in Brazil. With Costa Rica having been excellent so far, England may well find it difficult once again.

Team news

The big news heading in is that England boss Roy Hodgson will radically reshuffle his starting lineup for the Three Lions' final match. Ben Foster should take Joe Hart's position in goal, while Luke Shaw, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling should all come into defence. Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard are expected to be replaced by Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere. Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley and James Milner should all make their first starts of the World Cup, though Daniel Sturridge will likely retain his position up top.

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto, whose touchline flapping has been about as exciting as his team's excellent performances in Brazil, may resist the urge to rest some of his side's stars. The Ticos may have guaranteed their place in the knockout stages, though they could still be topped by either Italy or Uruguay if they lose to England. Given that the group winner would avoid having to play Colombia in the knockout stages, it's a prize worth playing for.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Costa Rica (5-4-1): Keylor Navas; Júnior Díaz, Michael Umaña, Giancarlo González, Óscar Duarte, Cristian Gamboa; Christian Bolaños, Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz; Joel Campbell

England (4-2-3-1): Ben Foster; Luke Shaw, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling; Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard; Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, James Milner; Daniel Sturridge


Key matchups

Júnior Díaz vs. Chris Smalling or Phil Jones - The injury that prevented Kyle Walker from being included in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad has left the Three Lions without a genuine backup right-back. However, Hodgson looks set to use one of the Manchester United pairing, Chris Smalling or Phil Jones, in the position against Costa Rica. Neither player looks particularly comfortable out wide, lacking the pace and technical skill required of most good modern fullbacks. Up against one of Costa Rica's star performers in wing-back Júnior Díaz, they could struggle.

Joel Campbell vs. England's centre-backs - Arsenal striker Joel Campbell has been excellent at the World Cup, terrorising defences with blistering pace and his eye for the audacious. He'll be the attacking threat England's centre-backs will be most scared of facing. With Hodgson likely set to name an unfamiliar central defensive partnership, Campbell could capitalise.

England's front four vs. Costa Rica's defence - Save for some bright touches from Daniel Sturridge, England haven't greatly impressed going forward at this World Cup. Hodgson supposedly wanted to create a fluid attacking unit, filled with versatile players who could use intelligence and vision to drift and interchange in order to break defences down.

Alas, it hasn't worked like that at all. They often look disjointed and disorientated, and have been far too easily stifled. It looks like the Three Lions would've been better off sticking with a more defensive, more counter-attacking style expected when Hodgson first took charge a couple of years ago. Despite switches in personnel, England could struggle once again against the massed defensive ranks of Costa Rica on Tuesday.


England have been disappointing at the World Cup so far, and there's no reason to believe they'll be any better here, especially with Hodgson naming an unfamiliar lineup. However, they'll probably grind out a result against a Costa Rica side who may be lacking in their usual intensity, and at least pick up a point to take home. 1-1.