5 Costa Rica players to watch at the World Cup
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Three of the teams in Group D are loaded with famous players, like Italy striker Mario Balotelli, England forward Wayne Rooney and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez. The odd one out is Costa Rica.
Perhaps PSV Eindhoven forward Bryan Ruiz is the biggest name in the Costa Rica squad headed to Brazil. That will make it difficult for Costa Rica to advance from a difficult group.
On its side is the fact that half of the Central American country’s squad is made up of players who are based in Europe.
Here are five players to watch:
Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas is likely to have a lot to do, but he has had his best season for Levante and is considered one of the top ’keepers in the Spanish league.
There are reports in Spanish media that Navas could move to a higher-profile club, something a good performance at the World Cup might secure.
“You always want to play in the big teams, but at the moment I am a Levante player,” Navas said.
Navas left Costa Rica for Spain in 2010, but only made his first-division debut in May 2012.
Bryan Ruiz is the most established Costa Rican player in Europe and its best known after his stint in the Premier League with Fulham.
Ruiz, Costa Rica’s most creative player, is allowed to stray inside from his right midfield position.
Ruiz joined PSV from Fulham in January. He moved to Europe in 2006 to join Belgian side Gent before moving to FC Twente in the Netherlands and then Fulham in 2011.
Everton left back Bryan Oviedo has been in a race to be fit for Brazil after breaking his leg in January, although the Premier League club stated in March that he is on course to be back playing in time for the World Cup.
Oviedo had enjoyed a positive first half of the season for Everton, standing in for England international Leighton Baines.
Oviedo remains an important part of Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s plans, especially due to his attacking bursts from the left wing and his ability to cross the ball.
Joel Campbell made a good impression in the Champions League for Greek club Olympiakos this season and has been loaned out by parent club Arsenal to French team Lorient and Spanish club Real Betis over the last three years.
Campbell is fast, tricky and can play on the wing or inside and is the bright young starlet of Costa Rican football. Much is expected of him.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suggested in February that Campbell does have a future at the London club. A good World Cup may just make it sooner rather than later.
A central midfielder, Celso Borges is the pivot of Costa Rica’s team and already has made more than 50 appearances for his country.
Borges plays for Swedish club AIK and is known for his ability to score goals from his midfield position.
The son of Brazilian coach Alexandre Guimaraes, who was in charge of Costa Rica at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, Borges has played for his country from the under-17 level all the way up to the first team.