Rica at the disadvantage
Costa Rica’s World Cup resume is rather light on experience: they’ve made three appearances, and never advanced beyond the R16. Hence, the humungous +5000 odds to win Group D, and equally large +900 odds to simply advance into the knockouts. Costa Rica, who’ve been drawn into a rather tough Group D with Italy, Uruguay and England, are deemed the section’s massive underdogs in every sense, with few soccer bettors holding out much hope that Los Ticos would go beyond the group stage in Brazil. For Costa Rica’s fourth appearance, preparations begin against Japan in a friendly clash scheduled to get underway on Monday June 2nd at Raymond Stadium, the home of NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s Costa Rica’s first friendly since March, when they beat Paraguay 2-1 at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose. It’s also Coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s penultimate chance to sort line-up decisions, and tactics ahead of their Group D opener with Uruguay.
As things go, Los Ticos have left their World Cup preparations quite late in the day. It’s just ten days to the global showpiece getting underway, twelve days to their Group D opener against Uruguay, and they have just two friendly matches (the second against Ireland in five days time) to get ready.
Thursday’s team training also delivered a disastrous turn of events for Los Ticos when Alvaro Saborio suffered a foot injury. The Real Salt Lake striker is one of Costa Rica’s top scorers – 32 goals in 93 appearances – and his injury, which effectively rules him out of Los Ticos’ World Cup squad, makes matters worse for Coach Jorge Luis Pinto, and his lads. Alvaro is the second reputable player to be ruled out through injury after Bryan Oviedo was earlier with a broken leg. The Colombian manager is confident that his side is ready for challenging situations like this, however, is hoping to prove it to be so against Japan in a few days.
Japan sporting good form
Japan are slated to make their fifth World Cup appearance. Twice the Samurais reached the last 16, but they are yet to advance beyond. In 2002, Turkey narrowly edged Japan out with a 1-0 victory, and, in 2010, Paraguay did the honours on penalties. Japan are flush off a friendly win over Cypress last week, their third straight friendly victory, and fourth going undefeated since a 1-0 defeat to Belarus in October last year. As far as friendly action goes, Japan have been quite solid, if not impressive; they held Netherlands to a 2-2 draw on the away in November last year, and then, three days later, went on to beat Belgium 3-2 in Brussels.
In March, Japan resumed friendly action with a 4-2 win over New Zealand. Last week, they added a 1-0 win over Cypress in Saitama to extend their solid form ahead of Brazil. Japan have two more friendly games – against Costa Rica and Zambia – left before they kick start their Brazil campaign against Ivory Coast.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s side is the dangerous floater in Group C, as evinced by their World Cup betting odds in every group market. If they continue on their good form this week, working their way into optimal fitness and performance, they certainly will be a side to spot in early World Cup betting markets.
Costa Rica vs. Japan friendly tips and picks
It comes as no surprise to find Costa Rica tipped at the severe disadvantage for this friendly date with Japan. You can back Costa Rica at +260 to win on your soccer picks, but Costa Rica disadvantage is highlighted by lack of recent, competitive match play and as injury setbacks. Japan, given their good form, are correctly tipped as the favourites, if just shy of even money at +105, while the draw is trading at +230. Japan’s advantage is underscored by having played a friendly last week, so any rust will have been polished, and any performance issues identified. It’s hard to see Japan losing this affair. They might have not been spectacular against Cypress last week (nowhere nearly as attack-minded as they were against Netherlands and Belgium late last year), but that should come with more match-play. The bottom line is that they won, and that positive form should send them into this clash with confidence.
Free Soccer Picks and Predictions: Japan to win outright at +105; 2-1 at +800 at Bet365 sportsbook