The first action World Cup 2018 Group E sees Costa Rica take on Serbia in Samara in Sunday’s early kick off.
Group E also includes Brazil and Switzerland and you can read our outright preview for this quartet here.
Four years Costa Rica were the surprise package of the finals in Brazil. In those finals they beat Uruguay (3-1), Italy (1-0) and then played out a 0-0 draw with England in a tough group. They went on to beat Greece on penalty kicks in the knockout rounds before losing a subsequent shoot out with the Netherlands after a 0-0 draw.
Costa Rica earned their place in these finals by finishing as runners up in the final group stage in Central and North America qualifying, 5 points behind Mexico, They won 4, drew 4 and lost 2 of those qualifiers, scoring 14 goals and conceding 8.
Costa Rica also participated in Copa America 2016 and despite beating Colombia 3-2 their hopes of emerging from the group had been damaged by a 0-0 draw with Paraguay and 4-0 loss to USA.
Friendly international results this month comprise of defeats to Belgium (4-1) and England (2-0) but they did beat Northern Ireland 3-0.
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Leonel Moreira (CS Herediano).
Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Santos de Guapiles), Ronald Matarrita (New York City), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas).
Midfielders: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (CS Herediano), Rodney Wallace (New York City), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Daniel Colindres, Christian Bolanos (both Deportivo Saprissa).
Forwards: Johan Venegas (Deportivo Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (Los Angeles FC).
Serbia booked their place at these finals after topping their qualifying group, finishing 2 points clear of the Republic of Ireland and 4 in front of Wales.They won 6 of their 10 qualifying matches, drawing 3 and losing just the 1. The Serbs scored 20 goals and conceded 10 to secure their place in these finals, a mission they failed to achieve for Brazil 2014.
We last saw Serbia at the World Cup finals in South Africa 2010 and despite turning Germany over 1-0 in a group match, defeats to Australia and Ghana saw them exit the tournament early.
Serbia failed to make it to the Euro 2016 finals and their most recent friendly internationals this month saw them thrash Bolivia 5-1 but they did lose 1-0 to Chile.
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar).
Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou R&F), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Uros Spajic (Krasnodar), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina).
Midfielders: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (Hamburg), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade).
Strikers: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Salonika), Luka Jovic (Benfica).
Recent Head to Head
The Betting - Bet Now
Costa Rica 7/2
Note, odds quoted are an approximate average and are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change
In their qualifying group Serbia found the net at least once in each of their 10 matches. They come up against a side who will draw on their 2014 performances for inspiration but I fancy Serbia will have enough to make a winning start.
Bets: Serbia to win at 9/10
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