The 2018 World Cup is almost upon us and teams are playing their final friendly games in a bid to find out their preferred starting XI and formation. On Thursday night, England welcome Costa Rica to Elland Road for their final friendly ahead of the tournament.
While England will head to Russia following this match to make their final preparations for the World Cup, Costa Rica will play one more game against Belgium. So, they have two matches to think about when making their team selection.
England played Nigeria in a friendly game on Saturday at Wembley and won the match 2-1. The Three Lions started well in-front of their home fans and took a 2-0 lead into the interval. However, Nigeria changed shape to match England in the second half and got a goal back before eventually losing the game.
That win means England are undefeated in their last 9 internationals and will be aiming to extend that run ahead of the World Cup.
England won each of their final 4 World Cup qualifying games, all be it against weak opposition but have drawn 3 of their last 5 friendly matches. There have been draws with Germany, Brazil and Italy but England will feel confident of beating a team who are not ranked at the same level as those nations.
Costa Rica Form
Costa Rica travel to Europe in good spirits following their 3-0 win over Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland team are traditionally difficult to break down but Costa Rica had little problem in scoring goals and the result will give them plenty of confidence ahead of this game.
England will be the third team from the United Kingdom Costa Rica have faced recently and in addition to beating Northern Ireland, they saw off Scotland 1-0.
However, the wins over Scotland and Northern Ireland are the only two victories Costa Rica have enjoyed in their last 8 matches. There have been defeats to Panama, Spain, Hungary and Tunisia. Therefore, this is going to be a huge test for Costa Rica and one they hope goes better than their drubbing against the Spanish.
Gareth Southgate is expected to make changes to the England team from the match against Nigeria. Jack Butland, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose and Jamie Vardy could start the game. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson have joined the squad following the Champions League final and should play a part.
Costa Rica are also expected to make some changes from the team which defeated Northern Ireland. Rodney Wallace, Marco Urena, Patrick Pemberton and Randall Azofeifa will all be hoping to start the game.
Top Betting Tips
England have been in decent form recently and are defending a 13 match unbeaten run. They come into the match as favourites priced at 4/11 with Ladbrokes.
However, as shown again in the game against Nigeria, England struggled to put teams away when they are in control, do so not expect a big margin of victory. England to win by a single goal is 5/2 with William Hill.
Other than the match against Northern Ireland, Costa Rica have found goals difficult to come by. The have failed to score in 3 of their previous 5 matches. You can get 11/10 at William Hill for England to win the game to nil.
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