Mexico vs Costa Rica – Friday 6:50 PST/9:50 EST Estadio Azteca – Mexico City.
Matchday 3 of the CONCACAF Hexagonal Qualification stage will provide a mouth-watering encounter when Mexico hosts Costa Rica at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Costa Rica are currently first in the group after having beaten Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 away at the Port of Spain, and the United States 4-0 at home in San José.
Costa Rica’s performance against the United States on November 15, 2016 was particularly impressive. The 4-0 victory put the Central Americans in firm control of the group stage, and also meant the end of United States’ national team coach, Jürgen Klinsmann.
With the first three (the fourth placed team plays an inter-confederation playoff against the fifth-placed team from the Asian Football Confederation) teams advancing automatically from the Hexagonal, Costa Rica are certainly one of the favourites to go through directly. It would be Costa Rica’s fifth World Cup participation, and second in a row after the tiny country managed to finish in the quarterfinal of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil—they were eliminated by the Netherlands on penalties.
Although a small country, with a population of just 5 million people, Costa Rica is football mad, and has shown impressive results both in club football, as well on the international level. The current squad that will face Mexico on Friday will include several players who are plying their trade in Europe: Real Madrid goalkeeper, Keylor Navas; Palermo defender, Giancarlo González; Deportivo La Coruña midfielder, Celso Borges; as well as attacking duo, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell, who are both playing in Portugal for Sporting.
Of several players who are playing in Major League Soccer in the United States and Canada, first and foremost are the two Vancouver Whitecaps players, defender Kendall Waston and midfielder Christian Bolaños, who will supplement the European contingent.
The Mexican national team, in the meantime, is perhaps the biggest juggernaut of the CONCACAF region. Mexico started the Hexagonal with a 2-1 victory over the United States in Columbus, eradicating the doc a cero cult that has been built up by USA fans. They then tied Panama 0-0 away at the Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City.
The encounter against Costa Rica will, therefore, be their first home game of this qualification stage. The El Tri will have to do without Andres Guardado, who will be missing the match with a leg injury. Other absentees include Eintracht Frankfurt’s Marco Fabián, Giovani dos Santos, Jesus Corona, and Hirving Lozano. Led by head coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, Mexico, however, should still be able to put together a formidable squad. Furthermore, with Mexico City’s altitude in mind, Mexico will certainly be the favourites going into this match.
Mexico vs Costa Rica – Player to look out for:
Jürgen Damm is our player to watch out for on the Mexican national team. The Tigres UANL winger is, perhaps, one of the most exciting prospects in Liga MX. Incredibly fast, Damm can overwhelm the opposition’s defense on the counter attack. His crossing is also excellent, which makes him a perfect player for any side built on speed. Keep an eye on Damm trying to link up with Bayer Leverkusen forward Javier Hernández, better known as Chicharito, in order to create goal scoring opportunities.
Costa Rica’s goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, on the other hand, will try to keep Chicharito and company off the score sheet. The Real Madrid goalkeeper is Costa Rica’s biggest star, and he was instrumental in the country reaching the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Mexico vs Costa Rica – Match Stats
- Mexico has won four out of the last five games.
- Costa Rica has been perfect in the last five games.
- The two countries last faced each other in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2015. The game ended 1-0 in Mexico’s favour.
Prediction: Mexico vs Costa Rica 2-0
Ochoa – Moreno, Layún, Márquez – Gallardo, Pineda, Herrera, Damm – G. dos Santos, Chicharito, Vela
Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio
Navas – Oviedo, Duarte, González, Umaña – Borges, Ruiz, Bolaños – Campbell, Ureña, Venegas
Manager: Óscar Ramirez