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World Cup

  • June 29, 2014
  • • 21:00
  • • Itaipava Arena Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco
  • Referee: B. Williams
  • • Attendance: 41242
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Costa Rica won 5 - 3 on penalties

Costa Rica - Greece Preview: Ticos aim to continue fairytale World Cup campaign

Costa Rica - Greece Preview: Ticos aim to continue fairytale World Cup campaign

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The Concacaf side have been the surprise package of the tournament so far and will fancy their chances of making it to the quarter-finals

Few would have predicted that Costa Rica's first meeting against Greece would come in the knockout stages of the World Cup.

And the chances of it taking place in the 2014 competition in Brazil were even more unlikely after Fifa drew the groups in December last year.

But Costa Rica, widely expected to be the weakest team of Group C, have shocked the football world with wins over Uruguay and Italy.

And those results – along with a 0-0 draw against England – saw them not only reach the last 16, but do it in style - topping their pool.

The 28th-ranked nation entered the World Cup with just two wins from their previous nine matches, hardly form to inspire Jorge Luis Pinto's side.

But the likes of attackers Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz, as well as defensive pair Oscar Duarte and Junior Diaz, have thrived on the big stage in Brazil.

With their qualification guaranteed after their first two wins, Pinto has had more than a week to contemplate the pressure of knockout football ahead of Sunday's clash in Recife.

And although Ticos midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda has expressed surprise at facing Greece, who secured their berth in the round of 16 with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Ivory Coast, he insisted his side will be prepared.

"We were thinking more about [playing] Colombia and the Ivory Coast," Tejeda said.

"And in the end came the least expected team. Now we have to change the videotape."

Costa Rica have never gone beyond the last 16 at a World Cup, while Greece made history by progressing through the group stage for the first time.

Greece's last 16 hopes looked in tatters after a 3-0 defeat to Colombia in their first match in Brazil.

A goalless draw against Japan did little to improve their chances, but Greece then surprised the Ivory Coast in Fortaleza.

Greece – who were denied by the woodwork on three occasions – took the lead before being pegged back by Wilfried Bony 16 minutes from time.

Only a victory would have seen Greece through and Giovanni Sio's trip on Georgios Samaras gave them a chance in injury time.

Samaras, who had not scored in over two years for his national side, showed nerves of steel to calmly slot the 93rd-minute penalty and coach Fernando Santos believes the victory made a mockery of the claims that Greece cannot attack.

"We showed against Ivory Coast how well we can defend but also how good we can be in attack," he said.

"We created a lot of chances and we kept attacking until the end. Even when we conceded the 74th-minute equaliser, we continued to attack."

Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis and defender Panagiotis Kone were both substituted with injuries in the first half against the Ivory Coast.

Karnezis is likely to be fit for this clash, but Kone's involvement is doubtful.

Greece captain Kostas Katsouranis is also available for selection after serving a suspension.

Related

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
J. Campbell
J. Campbell
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 12
Games Goals YC RC
5 1 0 0
The Arsenal attacker played a key role in his side's win over Uruguay on matchday one and has looked threatening in all of Costa Rica's games so far. Campbell will be determined to keep up his fine form to impress Arsene Wenger ahead of the 2014-15 campaign and Greece would act wisely to keep a close eye on the 22-year-old.
Georgios Samaras
Georgios Samaras
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
4 1 1 0
The Celtic man might have a relatively modest goalscoring record for Greece, but the former Manchester City man always delivers when it matters most. He guided his side to the round of 16 by keeping his calm from the spot well into stoppage time against Cote d'Ivoire and he will be hopeful of helping Greece go one step further on Sunday.
Prediction
Costa Rica have been in superb form so far this tournament, beating Uruguay and Italy on their way to the round of 16, while also holding England to a draw. Greece on the other hand needed a last-minute penalty against Cote d'Ivoire to book their ticket for the knockout stages. The Concacaf side will therefore be confident of getting another positive result and will start Sunday's encounter as the favourites to progress.
Editor's Prediction
Greece 0

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