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HomeNewsYoung Costa Rican Squad Aims to Upset Brazil in Copa América Debut

Young Costa Rican Squad Aims to Upset Brazil in Copa América Debut

After back-to-back victories in World Cup qualifying, Costa Rica now turns its attention to the Copa América, where it kicks off its campaign against Brazil, the fifth-best-ranked side in the world.

Organized by South America’s football ruling body, CONMEBOL, the upcoming 48th edition of the tournament will be held in the United States and co-organized by CONCACAF.

Although La Sale is not a member of CONMEBOL, the confederation’s limitation to ten member associations has led to the regular inclusion of guest nations since 1993. Costa Rica has participated in the Copa América five times, making it to the quarter-finals twice in 2001 and 2004, and last appeared at the 2016 Copa América Centenario. Costa Rica earned its spot for the 2024 edition by defeating Honduras 3-1 in the qualifying playoffs back in March.

Los Tico is the fifth-lowest-ranked nation entering the competition, above only Bolivia, Paraguay, Jamaica, and Venezuela, out of the sixteen participating countries. They will face off in a group against Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay, with the top two ranking nations advancing to the quarter-finals.

Brazil Profile

No nation is more synonymous with football than Brazil, having won five World Cups (more than any other country) and nine Copa Américas. Some of the greatest players ever to have graced the game have donned the iconic bright yellow jersey, including Pele, Garrincha, Neymar, Ronaldo, and Socrates, to name just a few. The sport is truly embedded in the nation’s culture and the hearts of the 205 million Brazilian population.

However, by their lofty standards, Brazilian football is in a mini-crisis. Since Croatia knocked them out of the 2022 World Cup in the quarter-finals, they have swayed from one tribulation to another, going through three coaches and suffering three defeats (against Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia) out of six games in World Cup qualifying.

Recently appointed veteran Head Coach Dorival Júnior has given the squad some much-needed unity and rejuvenation, resulting in three wins out of the last five friendly fixtures in 2024. Nonetheless, question marks over Dorival’s aptitude persist.

Nonetheless, due to the nation’s past prestige and the undoubted talent in its ranks, Seleção still goes into the tournament as the second favorites. Behind arch-rivals Argentina, who beat them 1-0 in the last Copa América final in 2021, so they will be eager to wreak revenge.

The São Paulo-born Dorival was rather ruthless in his selection process. Gabriel Jesus missed out despite being fit, and stalwart Casemiro was excluded due to his poor form for Manchester United. In addition, key players Richarlison and Neymar are injured, meaning questions remain over who will start in attack. Endrick may have forced his way into the lineup after scoring against England and Spain in March friendlies, though he must first prove his fitness after being stretchered off in what turned out to be his final appearance for Palmeiras in May. The coach also has decisions to make at fullback, but otherwise, the team largely picks itself, presuming the Seleção suffers no more injuries.

This Brazil team perhaps lacks the magic of previous vintages, but there is resilience to the new-look Seleção, with Lucas Paqueta, Bruno Guimarães, and Douglas Luiz in midfield, as well as a genuine world-class attacker in Vinícius Júnior.

Costa Rica Team News

Head coach Gustavo Alfaro has continued his policy of giving youth a chance, as Costa Rica has the youngest squad at this year’s Copa America, with an average age of just 24. It is also an extremely inexperienced roster, with captain Francisco Calvo and Joel Campbell the only players out of the 26-man squad with over 30 caps.

Considering how Alfaro has set up the side in recent matches, La Sele will try to implement an aggressive, energetic 5-2-3 formation that pushes players into the final third. The team mostly picks itself, but there are still a few unanswered questions: who will get the nod at right back, Haxzel Quirós or Gerald Taylor? Who will play on the wing, Warren Madrigal or Josimar Alcócer? Who will Alfaro opt for in the middle of the park, the more defensive and physical Jefferson Brenes or the more attack-minded Brandon Aguilera?

Possible Starting 11

Sequeira; Mitchell, Cascante, Calvo (C), Taylor, Aguilera, Galo, Lassiter; Alcocer, Ugalde, Zamora.

The two nations are well acquainted, having played each other eleven times since their first showdown in 1956. However, history has not been kind to Los Ticos, with Brazil coming out victorious on ten occasions and Costa Rica just once, back in 1960. The last meeting was at the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil won 2-0.

Here is hoping La Sele can rewrite the narrative on Monday!

Kick-off will be at 6:00 pm PDT (UTC−7) on the 24th of June at the 70,000-seater SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

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