Wednesday, November 22 will be the turn of 2010 champions Spain to begin a mission to bounce back unto the world stage as La Roja engage Costa Rica at the Al Thumama Stadium at 16:00GMT.
European champions in 2008, world champions in 2010 and European champions once more in 2012. Spain have enjoyed one of the best periods any nation could get in the history of football. However, they were also victims of the ‘defending champion syndrome’ when they shockingly failed to get past the group stage of the 2014 World Cup before getting stunned by Russia in the previous edition.
Luis Enrique’s men, however, seem to be on course on getting back to the top after making it to the semi-finals of the last European championship.
Costa Rica are experts in Central America. They enjoyed a good showing at the 2014 World Cup where they marked their best finish in the quarter-finals.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE MATCHES)
Spain have four out of five wins with three of those wins coming in the UEFA Nations League. Costa Rica have also won four and drawn once in their last five matches.
17 November 2022 Jordan 1–3 Spain Friendly
27 September 2022 Portugal 0–1 Spain UEFA Nations League
24 September 2022 Spain 1–2 Switzerland UEFA Nations League
12 June 2022 Spain 2–0 Czech Republic UEFA Nations League
9 June 2022 Switzerland 0–1 Spain UEFA Nations League
9 November 2022 Costa Rica 2–0 Nigeria Friendly
27 September 2022 Uzbekistan 1–2 Costa Rica Friendly
23 September 2022 South Korea 2–2 Costa Rica Friendly
14 June 2022 Costa Rica 1–0 New Zealand World Cup play-offs
5 June2022 Costa Rica 2–0 Martinique Nations League
HEAD TO HEAD
Out of their three meetings, the 2010 World champions have won twice with the latest occurring in a 5-0 trashing five years ago. The two sides are however facing off for the first time at the World Cup.
15 Nov 2011 Costa Rica 2-2 Spain International Friendly
11 Jun 2015 Spain 2-1 Costa Rica International Friendly
11 Nov 2017 Spain 5-0 Costa Rica International Friendly
Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to be fit in time, to play. With a lot of inconsistencies from their strikers, Nico Williams is expected to lead the lines together with Morata and Ferran Torres. Ansu Fati may be given the nod as well at the expense of any of the three aforementioned attackers.
(4-3-3): Simon; Carvajal, Laporte, P. Torres, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; F Torres, Morata, Williams
Costa Rica have no injury concerns as Coach Luis Fernando Suárez looks to capitalize on the experience of Paris Saint-German goalkeeper, Keylor Navas and former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell to possibly pull off another surprise in a group described as the group of death.
Navas; Oviedo, Duarte, Calvo, Martínez; Ruiz, Torres, Tejeda; Borges Campbell, Contreras