The third match of today’s World Cup celebration pits 2010 winners Spain against a Costa Rican side aiming to replicate their most famous run in the competition. Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium hosts the kick-off for Group E this afternoon.
Semi-finalists at last year’s European Championships, Luis Enrique’s Spain are keen to show they are back at the top of world football after a natural decline from the spectacular trophy-winning side of a decade ago. Only Sergio Busquets survives in the squad following their triumph in South Africa as the likes of Ansu Fati and Pedri look to make their mark.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, are not expected to be the team that reached the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil eight years ago, but they cannot be ruled out causing another upset in Qatar. ITV1 will be showing today’s match on TV. You can follow all the action LIVE with Standard Sport’s match blog!
No problem for Spain
As expected, Spain went through qualifying to secure a place in Qatar.
They topped their group, ahead of Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo, their defeat at Sweden being the only time they have ever been beaten.
15 goals scored, five conceded… all relatively comfortable for Spain.
Elsewhere in Group E…
Germany’s players covered their mouths during a team photo and wore warm-up shirts with rainbow-coloured sleeve stripes in an apparent protest against Fifa’s ban on the One Love armband.
Germany was one of several European nations, including England, who planned to wear the rainbow sash in Qatar in a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
However, the countries backtracked on Monday, just hours before England’s opener against Iran, after Fifa threatened sporting sanctions, including a possible yellow card for any player wearing the armband.
The German federation is set to take legal action against Fifa over the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision, but told captain Manuel Neuer not to wear the armband during Wednesday’s Group E opener against Japan.
Read the full story on this here
Score prediction: difficult draw
Despite being a cliché these days, Spain struggle to convert chances despite their ability with the ball.
Costa Rica are not the easy dude and will be as keen as any to deliver a major result before facing further tough tests in Germany and Japan.
A 0-0 draw.
Costa Rica squad news: No new concerns
Costa Rica is in the best shape possible in the first game.
They are preparing for their fifth World Cup since 1990 and their third in a row following their Intercontinental play-off win against New Zealand in June.
Veteran Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas remains their star player and will earn his 108th senior international cap against Spain, with ex-Arsenal striker Joel Campbell – now playing in Mexico for Leon – a lead the attack.
Team news Spain: Malati Morata and Carvajal
Spain are hoping forward Alvaro Morata and defender Dani Carvajal overcome colds, which coach Luis Enrique blamed on the air conditioning in Qatar, to play today.
Enrique’s build-up to the match saw his decision to replace left-back Jose Gaya questioned, with some journalists questioning whether the injury was serious enough to justify calling up Alejandro Balde.
He said: “What my heart told me is to keep Gaya, but then my mind tells me that I should do the best for the team and the best for the team is, no doubt, considering the injury of Gaya, to have two fully fit left-backs before the World Cup.”
This is told to them.
Where to look
tv channel: The game will be broadcast free-to-air on ITV1, with coverage starting at 3.10pm.
Live broadcast: The ITV Hub will offer a free live streaming service.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Evening Standard live coverage of the World Cup group stage match between Spain and Costa Rica.
La Roja hasn’t had the best time on the world stage in recent tournaments, but she reached the semi-finals at last year’s European Championships as she continues to improve under coach Luis Enrique.
Costa Rica should prove to be a tough test as Group E continues after Germany and Japan play each other.
Kick-off is at 16:00 GMT at Al Thumama Stadium. Stay with us.