Northern Ireland vs. Costa Rica
|Date & Time||Sunday June 3, 2018, 1:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
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Costa Rica and Northern Ireland meet Sunday in International Friendly soccer action at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has three friendly matches to prepare for the upcoming World Cup and build on their 2014 quarterfinal appearance. Costa Rica is coming off a frustrating loss to Tunisia in which it couldn’t get anything going offensively and allowed a Wahbi Khazri goal to be the deciding factor. Regardless, Costa Rica is going to rely heavily on its defense in these matches, as this club has allowed one or less goals in each of its last three matches and has one of the top goalies in Keylor Navas as the last line of defense. Costa Rica gives up nothing easily and is willing to grind matches out because it can rely on the back end to bring it home. The issue for Costa Rica will be finding enough offense to hang with the big boys and put matches away easier. Costa Rica may want to use these matches to push the pace a bit and discover some confidence in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net.
Northern Ireland simply hopes to play spoiler, as this is the clubs last friendly match before the UEFA Nations League in September. Northern Ireland is a club that really hasn’t accomplished much over the years, but it can’t be taken lightly considering it did beat South Korea 2-1 back in March and just forced a 0-0 draw a few days ago against Panama. Northern Ireland doesn’t have what it takes to take it to the big boys consistently, but it has shown flashes of coming along and can pull off a few surprises here and there if not respected by its opponent. However, like Costa Rica, finding offense hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world, as Northern Ireland has been shutout in four of its last five matches. There isn’t a single player on Northern Ireland’s current squad who has double-digit goals.
There’s no previous matches between these two teams.
This is likely going to be a defensive battle, but I still like Costa Rica to get the victory. Costa Rica is playing in front of its home fans and should be eager for a bounce back performance after that loss to Tunisia. If Costa Rica is going to build on its 2014 run, confidence is key, and you build that in matches like this against lesser competition and games you’re supposed to win.
Give me the proven team that’s still playing for something.