Greece had never qualified for the World Cup knockout stage before. Costa Rica braved through none less than three world champions (and sent two of them home) to advance in the competition, ranked first in the so-called Group of Death. After making history, the two teams face off this Sunday (29 June) at 5 PM in the Pernambuco Arena. The encounter will be the last of the five 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil held in Recife.
The Costa Ricans have good memories of the Pernambuco stadium: this is where they beat Italy by 1 x 0 on 20 June, and can celebrate the fact that they have won over the home crowd. But while coach Jorge Luis Pinto and his players all believe Brazil is a land that brings Costa Rica good luck, none seem to underestimate the opponent. “Greece works with four in midfield line. Samaras is a very thorough player on the break, and we need to learn to control him. We must be prepared to counter-attack and score on our breaks", said the coach.
For Greece coach Fernando Santos (from Portugal) the recipe to beat Costa Rica is to focus increased attention on the team's break efforts. “I believe they will come to us to pressure for the win, and we have to do the same. We cannot just wait [on the defence], because it seldom ends well. We have to pay attention when we attack, because they have very strong transitions," said the coach, who rated the opposing team as organized, focused and competitive.