FIFA 2014

World Cup: Costa Rica wary of Greece

Greece has developed a reputation over the years of being extremely hard to break down, particularly if it takes the lead.

Costa Rica is determined to score first when it tackles Greece in the World Cup last 16 in Recife on Sunday.

Greece has developed a reputation over the years of being extremely hard to break down, particularly if it takes the lead.

It has almost perfected the classic Italian system of catenaccio (bolt-lock) in which teams would play in an ultra defensive way and hope to score a single goal on the counter-attack to take a lead they would then defend.

And Los Ticos technical assistant Luis Marin said his team need to score early to prevent Greece from taking the lead and then shutting up shop.

“It's crucial for us to score early in the game, especially as Greece is known to tighten up at the back once it scores,” said Marin.

“But we know it's going to be a tough game all round. Although they lost to Colombia (3-0), the goals they conceded were down to simple mistakes. Greece are also potent on the counter-attack.”

He added: “Penalties could play a role at some point. They are a part of the game and although we hope it doesn't happen, we have to prepare for every scenario.

“We've been practising shooting from the penalty spot.”

Team in form

Costa Rica emerged as one of the form teams of the group stages, stunning Uruguay and then Italy before drawing with England to finish top of Group ‘D’.

Greece only just squeezed into the knockout round by the skin of its teeth, Giorgios Samaras converting a late penalty to hand Fernando Santos's men a decisive 2-1 win over Ivory Coast to book its first ever last 16 appearance. It was only Greece's second goal in three matches.

Having steered Greece to its first ever appearance in the knockout stage, Santos said unfancied Costa Rica would be a force to be reckoned with.

“We have to pay a lot of attention to this game, they came out top in the ‘Group of Death’. As a result we can't afford to underestimate them,” said the Portuguese.

As well as its potent attack, Costa Rica can boast of a tight defence — having conceded just once, to an Edinson Cavani penalty during its 3-1 defeat of Uruguay, in the tournament so far.

“If we have a good point, it's our defensive system, which isn't just the four or five defenders,” said coach Jorge Luis Pinto.

“Our defence is balanced, tough and very efficient.”

Given the flair with which Costa Rica sailed through Group ‘D’, it should start as favourite at the Arena Pernambuco — where it stunned a lifeless Italy 1-0 last week.

But if Greece progresses, the country's federation bosses will need to look for a quick-fix solution to keep Santos on board for a few extra days.

Santos's contract runs out the day after the last 16 clash, and the trained electrical engineer has no intention of having it renewed come what may.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 10:07:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/fifa-2014/world-cup-costa-rica-wary-of-greece/article6158601.ece

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