Sunday, January 29, 2023

Prediction: Costa Rica vs Germany

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 30 Nov 2022

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Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 5/6

Bookmaker: Betfair

The last round of the group stage at the World Cup is well underway, and in Group E on Thursday, Costa Rica and Germany will face each other at the Al Bayt Stadium with one aim set for both sides – to do their best to book a place in the round of 16. In the other match of the group, Spain face Japan.

Costa Rica

If anyone had called it before the start of the tournament, or after the opening round, they would probably have been laughed at, but at this crucial point in the race, Costa Rica appear much closer to achieving that goal than Germany. Sitting third in the group with three points, a win over Germany, as unlikely as it seems, would guarantee them a place in the next stage. It could even see them finish top of the group, providing Spain and Japan share the points between them. A draw would also prove enough to get Luis Fernando Suarez’s side through if Spain beat Japan.

It seemed mission impossible for Costa Rica after the 7-0 defeat to Spain, but a surprising 1-0 win over Japan, who had beaten Germany already, turned everything on its head. It took just one shot on target, taken by Keysher Fuller in the 81st minute, to make it happen and twist the whole group into extreme uncertainty.

Team News

Suarez would probably want to pick an unchanged starting XI from the Japan victory, but the second booking of the tournament picked up by defender Francisco Calvo will force his hand. With Calvo suspended, Juan Pablo Vargas is likely to step into the breach and help form a five-man line at the back.

Keylor Navas is, of course, the undisputed No. 1 between the posts. Upfront, Suarez might decide to give young Jewison Bennette another chance after dropping him for the Japan game, in which neither Gerson Torres nor Anthony Contreras played very well.

Germany

As for the four-time world champions, it’s all or nothing as they struggle to avoid another shockingly early exit from the world’s greatest football tournament. Winning this match has no alternative, and even that might prove insufficient to get them through if Spain fail to win theirs against Japan. At the moment, Germany are at the bottom with a single point, after losing 1-2 to Japan and scraping up a 1-1 draw against Spain.

After the Japan defeat, the German supporters suffered a thorough shock and faces to prospect of going home soon when Alvaro Morata struck for Spain, but Niclas Fullkrug turned the hero for his nation by bagging a relatively late equalizer.

Germany may not be the force they were in 2014 (not to mention 1990 or 1974) anymore, but they still have a very talented crop of players representing the country, and if they bow out from the tournament after the group stage for the second consecutive World Cup, coach Hansi Flick will likely be staring at his notice of dismissal quickly.

Team News

Bayern Munich winger Leroy Sane recovered from a knee problem to come on as a substitute against Spain, and he will probably be ready to start against Costa Rica. His potential place in the starting XI would mean Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan dropping back to his usual role in the middle of the park, forcing Leon Goretzka to sit on the bench.

Flick has to decide whether to stick with the experience of Thomas Muller upfront, or to give Fullkrug a chance after his heroics against Spain. At the back, it will be interesting to see if either Lukas Klostermann or Nico Schlotterbeck manage to dislodge Thilo Kehrer, who was largely to blame for Morata’s goal in the previous round, from the right defensive flank.

Conclusion

Everything is possible, of course, when the stakes are as high as they are now for these two teams, and Costa Rica certainly won’t be lacking motivation to hit their opponents hard, but Germany remain the favourites to win. The vastly superior quality of the players at Flick’s disposal should make the difference between the two sides, with Germany in even bigger need of a triumph.

However, no bookie gives odds over 1/10 on Germany winning, and it might be more interesting, if more challenging as well, to go for goals again. Both sides need a win and will surely seek to attack for a large part of the contest.

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 5/6

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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