Pre tournament thoughts
We though Costa Rica would be whipping boys of the group, we disrgarded them in terms of knockout qualification, maybe they would give a good account of themselves and go home happy NO not these guys they proved us all wrong tactically astute, full of young promising talent and surprisingly creative players.
Generally throughout his career Jorge Luiz Pinto(JLP) has been a more catious defensive manager, leading him to honours in south america such as winning the Costa Rica premier division twice. JLP has said his coaching methods and general outlook of the game are similar to Jose Mourinho a quote from JLP"my principles of work is based on training and methodology to have the right methodology. In that i share the view of mourinho who says that football is a methodology of training, concept, periodisation and logivally of strategy".He is clearly a man who thinks deeply about the game as shown by his website here.
World cup- Costa Rica
His tactics were clear try to hit teams on the counter with pace and power but try to press from deep position's to keep a strong defense it worked well . He likes to use a 5-4-1 but can revert to a more attacking 4-4-2 or 3-4-3 if need be which shows the flexibility of the coach. The 5-4-1 which was mainly used used the pace of the wingers and wing backs to create overloads on the wings not worrying about being reversed countered as he has 3 centre backs covering, when the wide players drop back in to defend it becomes so hard to open them up.
In their opening game they blitzed Uruguay beating them 3-1 yes they may not have had Suarez to test them defensively but still they shocked everyone at that point. Using their pace and power from set pieces and Joel Campbell being a major focal point of their counter attacks JLP got it spot on to run out winners and set the pace for the tournament. The next game people were saying the Uruguay game was a fluke but Pinto's boys proved others with a solid defensive performance relentlessly pressing the opposition and coming out 1-0 winners against Italy and then going on to draw 0-0 to England finishing the group undefeated surely no one saw that coming.
The game against Greece impressed me the most winning 1-0 Duarte gets a second yellow now Costa Rica have to try to hold on for as long as possible. They pressed they harried and Joel Campbell worked his socks of up front showing their willingness to put a shift in for their manager. Unfortunately for them the Greeks managed to score late on but this did not stop the Costa Ricans they stayed in their compact shape which they obviously were drilled and drilled on time and time again they held on only to win on penalties.
The cruel way to exit the tournament on penalties to the Netherlands who look to be one of the favorites for the tournament. The way JLP has got these guys working getting high up to support Campbell on the counter them to drop back in and pressure willingly is admirable to watch. Creatively this wasn't their best game but the work ethic,desire, focus and concentration was. The Goalkeeper Navas made a few terrific saves but other than that this team are the first to keep arjen robben quiet they did this by restricting the space he could run into and have 2 or 3 guys on him every time he had the ball the most success Robben got all game was cheap free kicks.
Sad to see no so called "underdog" teams still in the competition but credit due to Costa Rica and their tactically experienced coach Jorge Luiz Pinto they have certainly added a lot to the competition. Has Joel Campbell proved he can be arsenals main striker? maybe maybe not well see.