MX23RW : Tuesday, April 23 16:23:50| >> :600:27814728:27814728:
Jun 7, 2018 at 8pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 36,104
Costa Rica
Rashford (13'), Welbeck (76')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: England vs. Costa Rica - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Saturday's World Cup warm-up between England and Costa Rica.

The World Cup is almost upon us, and England are gearing up to conclude their preparations for Russia with a warm-up match against fellow qualifiers Costa Rica at Elland Road.

Both sides head into the match fresh off the back of friendly victories, and their players will be eager to impress to boost their chances of securing a place in the starting XI at the finals.


England manager Gareth Southgate on June 2, 2018© Reuters

The Three Lions head into the Costa Rica friendly having gone unbeaten in nine matches under head coach Gareth Southgate, a run they extended with Saturday's 2-1 victory against Nigeria at Wembley Stadium.

Thursday evening's fixture gives Southgate the chance to field some of the players who did not start against the Super Eagles and firm up his starting XI for Russia.

The former centre-back has been gradually introducing his own ideas and style of play to his young England side since taking the helm, and there have certainly been signs of improvement in recent fixtures, such as the goalless draws with World Cup favourites Germany and Brazil and the 1-0 victory away to Ronald Koeman's Netherlands in March.

Southgate has favoured a three-man defence with wing-backs, and it has worked out well for him so far, with England having shipped just three goals in their last eight games.

Finding the net at the other end of the park has, however, been an issue but there are signs that the Three Lions are finding their shooting boots.

In the last eight matches, they are now averaging a goal a game following Gary Cahill and captain Harry Kane's strikes against Nigeria.

There were a number of positives for England fans to draw from the win against the Super Eagles, although their performance did peter out in the second period after a strong first half.

Southgate will be seeking a more complete showing against the Costa Ricans and is likely to give players such as Jordan Henderson and Jamie Vardy - who did not play against Nigeria - the chance to impress.

England, who will face Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in the group stages of the World Cup, head into the match in 13th place in the FIFA World Rankings, while Costa Rica are down in 25th.

Recent form: WDDWDW

Costa Rica

Costa Rica manager Oscar Ramirez on March 27, 2018© Reuters

Costa Rica booked their place in Russia in dramatic fashion last October when a late goal from Kendall Waston against Honduras helped them cement second place in their CONCACAF qualifying group.

The team went on to lose their final qualifier to Panama and finished runners-up to Mexico in the group, which also included a USA side that failed to reach the finals.

Marco Urena and Christian Bolanos were Costa Rica's top goalscorers during qualifying with four strikes each, and they could both play a part against England having sat out of recent games.

Since securing their spot in Russia, the Ticos have found results and goals hard to come by.

A 5-0 friendly defeat to Spain was followed by a 1-0 loss against Hungary before Costa Rica stopped the rot with a 1-0 win away to Scotland, yet they failed to build on that.

A 1-0 loss to Tunisia then made it four defeats in five games, although their most recent fixture saw Oscar Ramirez's side pull off their most impressive result and performance for some time as they coasted to a 3-0 victory against Northern Ireland.

Like Southgate, Ramirez is expected to make changes to the side which defeated the Irish in order to make full use of his squad ahead of the finals.

Costa Rica have been drawn in World Cup Group E, alongside Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia.

Recent form: LLLWLW

Team News

England midfielder Jordan Henderson in action during his side's international friendly with Spain at Wembley on November 15, 2016

England could hand game time to Liverpool duo Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold against Costa Rica, with the pair having missed the win over Nigeria due to their involvement in the Champions League final.

Vardy is almost certain to play a part after sitting out of Saturday's match at Wembley, and he could be partnered by either Kane or Raheem Sterling in a 3-5-2 formation.

Phil Jones and Fabian Delph could be sidelined for the match as their partners are due to give birth any day, although neither played a part against Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Jordan Pickford is widely expected to be England's first-choice goalkeeper in Russia, but Southgate could give Jack Butland a chance to challenge the Everton stopper for the number one spot with game time against the Costa Ricans.

Ramirez has been tipped to make several changes to his Costa Rica side for the match at Elland Road, with key players including Urena and Bryan Ruiz in line for a recall.

There will likely be several British-based players out in force for the Ticos, with Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo in line to start at wing-back, Celtic's Cristian Gamboa in defence and Arsenal's Joel Campbell in an attacking position for the visitors.

England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Alexander-Arnold, Dier, Henderson, Rose, Alli; Vardy, Kane

Costa Rica: Navas; Gamboa, Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte, Oviedo; Ruiz, Borges, Urena, Campbell; Venegas

Head To Head

England and Costa Rica have met only once before, and that was during the group stages of the last World Cup finals.

The two sides played out a 0-0 draw, a result which saw the Three Lions finish bottom of the pile and the Ticos reach the knockout stage against the odds.

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We say: England 1-0 Costa Rica

Much has changed since Costa Rica defied the odds to reach the knockout phase of the 2014 World Cup while England crashed out as Group D's basement boys. The Three Lions are disciplined under Southgate, and more of the same defensively should be enough to keep an inconsistent Costa Rica at bay. Between Kane and Vardy up front and Dele Alli's creativity in midfield, the hosts should have the firepower to force the issue.

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Keylor Navas in action for Real Madrid during the Champions League final on June 3, 2017
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