Rica’s Cinderella run
Just about each and every World Cup serves up a surprise package: an inspired team from an unheralded nation that charts its way deep into the tournament against all the odds, on a run that is commonly known as the Cinderella run. Has this World Cup finals found its Cinderella?
Arguably, Costa Rica has put forward a very, very good rendition of the fairytale already. Two matches into Group D – a section that contains three former World Cup champions in Italy, Uruguay and England – and Costa Rica is perched pretty atop the table, six points to the good following a 3-1 win over Uruguay and 1-0 over Italy. What’s more, with just one lap left in group play, Costa Rica are safely through to R16. Yup, that’s right! They are on to the knockouts!
Of course, it remains to be seen whether they’ll finish top of the table or in second place, as it will determine the rest of their course through the finals. For now, regardless of where they finish in Group D, their run has to be heralded as one of the Cinderella stories of the finals, if not THE Cinderella story. A feel good story, one that will surely touch all football fans around the world, and inspire all those nations awarded (fairly or not) the epithet ‘underdogs’ in any competition, including this World Cup final.
That Costa Rica have managed to survive the so-called ‘Group of Death’ draw – though deemed ill-fated for all those involved, had Costa Rica almost exclusively on the receiving end of doomsday prophecies, as nobody figured they’d even factor – has forced one of the biggest moves in the 2014 World Cup betting markets to date. Costa Rica’s odds have been slashed from a whopping +50000 (ahead of the kickoff with Italy) down to...drum roll... +5000 to win outright following the win over Italy. They are now hobnobbing with the likes of Uruguay +4000, Portugal +5000...and so forth.
How far can the Costa Ricans go?
Now that Costa Rica’s future odds have been adjusted to reflect their course into the R16: what does it mean in the broad spectrum of the competition? It’s a long way to the final, a lot of football yet to be played and without the remaining R16 spots decided, it would be rash to make grandiose statements. But they are champions already, make no mistake. They are the people’s champions, heroes at home, darlings around the world, winning hearts and fans with their honest brand of football that puts an emphasis on the team as a whole rather than the sum of its individual parts.
That said, if Costa Rica win Group D, they‘d take on the runner-up in Group C, which could be Colombia, Ivory Coast, Greece or Japan. If they finish runner-up in Group D, they’d take on the winner of Group C, which could only be Colombia or Ivory Coast. In any of these scenarios, Costa Rica would have to fancy their chances after what they’ve already accomplished. This means betting on Costa Rica to reach AT LEAST the quarterfinals is a savvy World Cup Pick.
To take it a step further, it’s not entirely unlikely to assume they would reach the semis, as well. It’s a bit of a stretch, but everything depends on which nations will emerge out of Group’s A and B – as the winners and runners-up of those will duke it out in the R16 in order to serve up a corresponding quarterfinal opponent in the appropriate section of the draw.
At the moment, the Group B contenders are known, however their order isn’t: Netherlands and Chile. Group A contenders look to be Brazil and Mexico (in that order), but Group A could experience an upheaval in the last lap with Croatia crashing the party. Any of these match-ups present a much bigger ask, especially when considering the semis would be on the line. But this is the beautiful game of football: unpredictable, random... Watch this space...
A short word on England:
Another World Cup; another disappointing run for England. It happens. Even to the best of them. England still have a clash with Costa Rica to look forward to in the last lap of Group D, so at least they’ll have a chance to make their mark on Group D. Or, maybe not. If neither Italy or Uruguay could beat the plucky Costa Ricans...
Uruguay or Italy to join Costa Rica
Well, for a full match preview, tune into our soccer free picks section. For now, suffice it to say, both nations are credible opponents and tempting prospects to advance. If we were to take a page from group betting markets, it would seem Italy are expected to join Costa Rica. To win Group D, odds makers have Costa Rica matched at -900, Italy at +800 and Uruguay at +1400. Group Qualification betting markets also favour Italy at -225 while matching Uruguay at +175.
Our inclination, though, is to back Uruguay at +175 to simply advance with Costa Rica. On the merit of their win over England, which featured a Luis Suarez inspired attack, Uruguay looked the part of top favourites to win the competition proper. Indeed, the Italy-Uruguay affair is tipped on a tight World Cup betting line, tighter than an accountant’s purse with Italy listed at +160 and Uruguay listed at +170.
World Cup Picks: Costa Rica and Uruguay to advance into R16