England v Costa Rica Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews
June 04, 2018
Elland Road - International Friendly
Gareth Southgate is expected to rotate his squad as England continue their World Cup preparations against Costa Rica this Thursday. Los Ticos come into the game fresh off the back of dismantling Northern Ireland 3-0 and will be looking to continue their form into the competition.
An uneventful 0-0 draw in match-day three of the 2014 World Cup between the two sides ensured that Costa Rica finished top of Group D, knocking out England and Italy in the process.
Jamie Vardy is expected to start on Thursday, however whether he is to do so as the main striker, or alongside Harry Kane is yet to be seen. Jordan Henderson is also set to return to the midfield, with his fellow Liverpool player, Trent Alexander-Arnold likely to receive his England debut at some point.
Oscar Ramirez is also likely to make a number of changes from his sides win over Northern Ireland. Bryan Ruiz is set to step back into the midfield, whilst Marco Urena is likely to take the place of Johan Venegas up front, in Costa Rica's strongest line-up.
England's narrow win over Nigeria at the weekend was vital for the Southgate's sides' confidence, who are playing with a new formation and tactics. The manager is keen to encourage passing football, especially into his defence, something that goes strongly goes against the instincts of the likes of Gary Cahill and Phil Jones. Every successful match will ensure they feel more comfortable going into the World Cup.
Costa Rica broke onto the scene in the last World Cup with a surprising quarter-final run, however, will no longer be considered the minnows they once were. A convincing qualification campaign has left them in a group with Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland, meaning Ramirez has another big task ahead of him to overcome a difficult set of opponents.
Their performance against Norther Ireland will give the manager hope, as former Arsenal man Joel Cambell was decisive. The Ticos squad is full of pace, but isn't short of experience, with the likes of Kaylor Navas having shown what it takes to win major competitions with Real Madrid.
A win on Thursday would make a big difference to both sides' confidence going into the competition, with just two weeks remaining until it kicks off. The Three Lions will be at home, certainly have the stronger of the two XIs on paper, and having paid the price of underestimating Costa Rica before, and will be wary of doing so again.
Jamie Vardy to score first at 4/1
The Leicester striker's twenty goal season would ensure that he starts in most national sides, but he will need to impress on Thursday to do so in England's first World Cup match.
Both teams to score at 11/10
England's back line don't quite look comfortable, and Costa Rica's pace could threaten them.