Spain faces a Costa Rica side on the rise in their opening game of the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday afternoon.
The 2010 champions haven’t won a World Cup knockout match since the final in Johannesburg. However, Luis Enrique’s youth-infused setup comes into the contest buoyed by reaching the semi-finals of the European Championships and Nations League across the last 18 months.
In 2022, Costa Rica climbed 14 places in FIFA’s World rankings – more than any other nation at this year’s finals. However, they still sit 24 rungs below seventh-placed Spain.
Here’s everything you need to know about the meeting between this duo 201 years after Costa Rica declared independence from Spain.
Where is Spain vs Costa Rica playing?
Location: Doha, Qatar
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium
Date: Wednesday 23 November
Kick-off Time: 16:00 GMT / 11:00 ET / 08:00 PT
Spain Team News
The Spanish Football Federation confirmed that left-back Jose Gaya suffered a sprained ankle during training with the national team, leaving the future involvement of Valencia’s captain very much in doubt.
Cesar Azpilicueta sustained a calf problem during Chelsea’s Premier League defeat to Newcastle last weekend but is expected to recover in time for the World Cup opener.
Spain predicted lineup vs Costa Rica
Spain Starting 11 (4-3-3): Simon; Carvajal, Laporte, P Torres, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; F Torres, Morata, Williams.
Bench: Sanchez, Raya, Azpilicueta, Garcia, Guillamon, Llorente, Koke, Rodri, Soler, Asensio, Olmo, Pino, Sarabia, Fati.
Costa Rica Team News
Luis Fernando Suarez has used a sickening 77 players during his tenure as Costa Rica’s manager – which only began in June 2021. “It was a bit too much at one point,” he admitted. “Something was lost.”
The 62-year-old managed to whittle that number down to 26 and all the members of his final selection are expected to be fit for the opener.
Costa Rica predicted lineup vs Spain
Costa Rica Starting 11 (4-3-3): Navas; Martinez, Calvo, Duarte, Oviedo; Tejeda, Bennette, Torres; Borges, Contreras, Campbell.
Bench: Alvarado, Sequeira, Vargas, Fuller, Waston, Matarrita, Chaco, Ruiz, Salas, Aguilera, Lopez, Wilson, Hernandez, Zamora, Venegas.
Match result prediction: Spain to win both halves
Spain is our pick to win this World Cup clash against Costa. They have thrashed Jordan 3-1 ahead of their World Cup opener against Costa Rica. Ansu Fati, Gavi, and Nico Williams scored in the friendly against Jordan. This time, Spain is among the top five contenders for the World Cup trophy. They scored 6 goals in the group stages of the previous campaign and with no loss against Costa Rica in previous duels, we think this should be a winning 2022 World Cup start for Spain.
Total Goals Prediction: Under 2.5 goals
Like most World Cup openers, the clash between Spain and Costa Rica is likely to yield a few goals. While all past three duels between these teams yielded at least three goals in each game, we expect a low-scoring duel in this first Cup encounter. The hosts have three clean sheets from the last four games while Costa Rica has two such outcomes in as many previous assignments.
Correct Score Prediction: 2-0 to Spain
Our last Spain vs Costa Rica prediction is a 2-0 victory for Spain. They have never scored less than two goals against the visitors in all previous meetings. Moreover, Spain boasts a stronger defensive record than Costa Rica in recent games. Also, Spain scored at least twice in two of three group-stage games in the last World Cup while Costa Rica didn’t score in two group-stage games.
Spain vs Costa Rica Score Prediction
Under Enrique, the vast majority of Spain’s matches against supposedly weaker opposition slip into the same tedious pattern; Spain boasts a monopoly of possession, prodding, and probing without getting much in return. La Roja scored the joint-fewest non-penalty goals in World Cup qualifying of any European side that made it to the finals (15).
Whatever the opposition, Costa Rica has a habit of ceding possession and giving up a high volume of shots. Suarez’s side often limits the quality of these efforts but scarcely threaten themselves, scoring just 13 goals in 14 qualifiers.
It may be a slog – and they will have to be wary of Costa Rica’s speed in transition – but Spain should kick off their campaign with a victory.
Prediction: Spain 2-0 Costa Rica