- Spain v Costa Rica
- Monday, November 23, 2022, 11:00 ET
- At the Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
Spain takes on Costa Rica in their opening World Cup game, and our betting picks suggest that they could be in for a frustrating afternoon.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks, we can see that the bookies are pretty much in agreement with Spain’s favoritism. The 2010 World Cup winners are big favorites, with bettors to win their opening World Cup game at odds as short as -575. The underdogs, Costa Rica, are available at huge prices up to +1950, while the draw can be wagered at +630.
|Spain v Costa Rica|
World Cup Group E Betting Briefing
Every World Cup competition has at least one Group that, on paper, appears to be more difficult than the others, and in 2022, Group E is the front-runner for the moniker of “Group of Death.”
The four-time World Cup champion Germany, who won the competition in 2014, is one of two major nations included in this section, along with the 2010 champions Spain. They are complemented by the second-ranked Asian team, Japan, and Costa Rica, which is competing in its fifth World Cup since 1990 and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2014. And if that weren’t difficult enough, the top two teams from Group F—likely Belgium and Croatia — will be the Round of 16 opponents for the Group E qualifiers.
Spain will want to get a win on the board as soon as possible, but they will be wary of underestimating this tough, hard-to-beat Costa Rica lineup.
Spain on the Rise
After their disappointing efforts at the 2018 World Cup, Spain is clearly a rising force in world football once again, and Luis Enrique has a dynamic and forward-thinking coach who has molded a new generation of Spanish talent into an attacking force capable of beating any opponent.
This version of Spain bears many similarities to the great team that won the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euros, but it isn’t at that level yet. Notably, Enrique has yet to unlock the correct forward formula, and this is just one of a number of selection issues that feel as though they are a little uncertain.
The star of the show is the teenager, Pedri, who has the potential to be one of the great Spanish players of all time, but there is an exciting range of talent around him, as well as some experience in the form of Alvaro Morata and Sergio Busquets, who may yet have one more World Cup after this in his career.
Spain are sure to dazzle at some points in this tournament, but their main problem could be in unlocking a massed defense of the kind that they will come up against in their opening Group E game.
Costa Rica Hard to Watch and Hard to Beat
Costa Rica will not be a favorite of neutral fans at this World Cup. Luis Fernando Suarez’s team is hard to beat but hard to watch as they focus on defensive stability.
Their qualification campaign was dramatic but only just successful. They won one of their first seven, then six of their last seven to sneak into the Continental playoffs, where they edged out New Zealand with a characteristic 1-0 scoreline.
Given their scoring record during qualification (13 goals from 14 games), it is fairly clear to see where the problem lies. Their rare attacks tend to be direct and not particularly effective. But they are perfectly happy to sit back and soak up pressure, and this could prove to be a good strategy against the two favorites in the Group, Germany, and Spain, for whom frustration could lead to taking extra risks.
Keylor Navas is the key to Costa Rica’s secure defense, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and arguably the player of their qualifying tournament. He will keep them competitive, and their fans will hope that they can grab a goal or two along the way.
World Cup Group E Match Betting
If this game was purely about talent, then it would be no contest. Spain has realistic hopes of winning Group E thanks to their depth of technical expertise and attacking flair.
And yet, that doesn’t always translate into victory. Spain’s style of play is patient, but Costa Rica can be just as patient, and their likely approach to this game will be to sit back and compress the play. The younger members of the Spanish squad may not have the experience to remain patient throughout what could be a draining game of few opportunities, and this could even prove to be tougher than either of their games against Germany or Japan, both of which will try to play on the front foot.
In the end, this pick comes down to the prices. Given the way that Costa Rica plays and the draining conditions this game will be played in, the draw should not be that high a price.