Manager: Ricardo La Volpe
Group: A (with Argentina, Colombia and Bolivia)
Copa America title betting odds: 150/1
Qualifying for quarter-finals odds: 17/10
Group winner odds: 40/1
Finishing in the top two in group odds: 11/2
Copa America 2007 performance: Did not enter
Best Copa America performance: Quarter-finals (2001, 2004)
How are they shaping up?
The first thing football betting fans should note is that Costa Rica were drafted in to this year’s Copa America as last-minute replacements for Japan. They suffered a disappointing quarter-final exit to Honduras at the recent Gold Cup, but due to CONCACAF and FIFA regulations, they are unable to select the majority of the players who featured in that tournament. As a result, La Volpe has been forced to bring a virtual under-23 squad, with only three members plying their trade outside Costa Rica.
This makes the strength of the Central Americans very difficult to assess. With so many unheralded youngsters in their line-up, it seems reasonable to assume that they will struggle. But on the other hand, the players selected for the competition could relish the lack of expectation and will surely be giving everything to impress La Volpe. Either way, Costa Rica’s form so far this year – which includes holding Argentina to a goalless draw in San Jose – should be disregarded as an indication of how they will fare in the Copa America. Depending on your viewpoint, this unpredictability could make betting odds of 13/2 on them to defeat Colombia in their opener seem tempting.
La Volpe is a charismatic figurehead but he will need to use all his man-management skills to coax the required level of performance out of his inexperienced charges. There will also be a major onus on the sprinkling of older heads – led by tournament skipper Randall Brenes at the grand old age of 27 – to step up to the mark. Perhaps the most realistic aim for Costa Rica is to notch a victory over fellow Group A minnows Bolivia in the second round of matches and then hope to squeak through as one of the two best third-placed teams.
Caps: 3 Goals: 1
With the likes of Twente striker Bryan Ruiz, 23-goal hitman Alvario Saborio and several other Europe-based stars forced to watch from the sidelines, picking a star man is tricky to say the least. Goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado will be keen to show his ability, having won the Golden Gloves award at the 2009 Under-20 World Cup, and forward Cesar Elizondo, 23, will be hoping to finally realise his early potential on the big stage.
However, we’ve decided to take a punt on Joel Campbell, a 19-year-old striker who was recently linked with a move to Sunderland. The lanky hitman caused a huge stir in his homeland when he hammered in a fierce left-footer on his debut in the 5-0 group win over Cuba at the Gold Cup. That followed an impressive CONCACAF Under-20 campaign earlier this year, when he finished as top scorer with six goals. Although he has just three senior caps to his name, the fact that he has been handed the number 10 shirt for the Copa America suggests that he is firmly in La Volpe’s attacking plans. And because he is still something of an unknown quantity to most football betting fans, he could provide attractive first or any time goalscorer odds, particularly if he features against Bolivia.
Costa Rica’s build-up to the tournament has also been overshadowed by the death of Dennis Marshall. The defender, who scored his first international goal in the Gold Cup clash with Honduras, was tragically killed in a road accident on June 23rd.
While it is unclear how this will affect the squad, it is not unreasonable to suggest that they could be even more determined to succeed and honour the memory of their former team-mate. And it should not be forgotten that some of the players featuring in Argentina are the same ones who finished fourth in the Under-20 World Cup two years ago. When combined with La Volpe’s wily leadership, this could see Costa Rica arrive at the tournament with a great team spirit.
This may allow them to sneak into the last eight, but the overwhelming expectation is that they will find the Copa America too much of a step up and will be swiftly sent packing after three defeats out of three.
Verdict: Eliminated at group stage
New customers can register here to claim a £25 free bet or check out all bwin’s Copa America bets.