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Switzerland v Costa Rica preview: Swiss aiming for knockout rounds

Switzerland v Costa Rica play in the final Group E game of the 2018 World Cup
Switzerland v Costa Rica play in the final Group E game of the 2018 World Cup

Switzerland are aiming to make the last 16 of the World Cup when they take on Costa Rica in their final Group E game on Wednesday.

The Swiss picked up a late 2-1 win against Serbia to put them in pole position for qualification, currently on four points along with Brazil, who have a better goal difference.

Switzerland can make the knockout rounds with a win, or with a draw as long as Serbia draw or lose to Brazil, coach Vladimir Petkovic says he’s happy for his team to continue with its “organised chaos” approach.

“We created what we call an organised chaos and we are going to continue to do that in the future as well. We are going to play around with that,” he said.

Costa Rica have already been eliminated from the World Cup after two successive losses, and are yet to score a goal in Russia, and coach Oscar Ramirez says the team have faced unfair criticism back at home.

“I feel hurt and disappointed at the same time. People have said very uncomfortable things,” he said.

“I wanted to make our country happy, I really didn’t want to go through what we have gone through. We had a very tough group. I have tried the best I can, I am sleeping fine. In our country, people are very emotional.”

Costa Rica are yet to win or score at the 2018 World Cup
Costa Rica are yet to win or score at the 2018 World Cup

Team news

Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner are available for Switzerland after they escaped a FIFA ban for appearing to make hand signals that imitated the double-headed eagle on the Albanian flag against Serbia.

Some Costa Rica players could be making their last appearances at a World Cup – including 32-year-old captain Bryan Ruiz – although neither side have any injuries or suspensions to contend with.

Granit Xhaka has not been banned for his celebration against Serbia
Granit Xhaka has not been banned for his celebration against Serbia

Opta stats

  • Switzerland and Costa Rica will be meeting for the third time and the first time at a major tournament – both nations have recorded one win each.
  • The Swiss are unbeaten in their previous four World Cup games against sides from CONCACAF (W2 D2) – winning most recently against Honduras at World Cup 2014 (3-0).
  • Costa Rica are winless in their last four World Cup games against European sides (W0 D3 L1), scoring just one goal across those four matches.
  • Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (W0 D3 L2), failing to score in four of those.
  • Costa Rica have been knocked out of the group stages in this tournament after successive losses. In World Cup 2014, they won the opening two matches and guaranteed qualification for the knockout stage.
  • A loss for Costa Rica will mean that they will finish the group stages on zero points – only at World Cup 2006 have they ever failed to pick up a single point at the tournament.
  • Switzerland have conceded a goal in each of their last three World Cup games; they had only conceded in three of the previous 10 before this run.
Xherdan Shaqiri scored a late winner for Switzerland against Serbia
Xherdan Shaqiri scored a late winner for Switzerland against Serbia
  • Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in five of Switzerland’s last six World Cup goals (four goals, one assist).
  • Only Josef Hügi (6 goals) has scored more World Cup goals for Switzerland than Xherdan Shaqiri (4, tied with Robert Ballamann & Andre Abegglen).
  • Stephan Lichtsteiner made his ninth World Cup appearance for versus Serbia – the most of any Swiss player in history.

Charlie’s prediction

Switzerland are another side that have played well at this tournament so far. I wish Granit Xhaka could play for Arsenal like he does for his country! Xherdan Shaqiri is another that has found a bit of form for his country. I’m just not convinced about them at the back. I’m very pleased Arsenal have signed Stephan Lichtsteiner. He’s been a warrior for many, many years but it’s the other side of the defence that concerns me. I think you can really get at the centre-backs and the left-back. However, that won’t be too much of a problem against Costa Rica, who will be on their way home with zero points after this match.

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