Germany and Costa Rica battle it out in World Cup action on Thursday with both still in the hunt for the Round of 16 in a deliciously poised Group E.
Qualification almost became an even tougher task for the Germans before an impressive late rally against Spain on Sunday. Niclas Fullkrug was the hero with a late equalizer off the bench to give Hansi Flick’s men a deserved point.
World Cup odds state Costa Rica have a fighting chance of escaping the group too after bringing Japan back to earth with a shock 1-0 win, and Los Ticos deserve credit for shaking off the hammering by Spain in their opening game.
Learn more in our free Costa Rica vs Germany World Cup betting picks and predictions for this high-stakes Thursday, December 1 showdown.
Costa Rica vs Germany odds
Costa Rica vs Germany picks and predictions
It was never meant to be this difficult for the four-time World Cup winners, but the Germans unlocked something in the final 15 minutes against Spain — and it could be enough to save their tournament.
Flick’s substitutions turned the tide, with Fullkrug giving Germany a more traditional No. 9 and Leroy Sane adding a creative spark out wide. Both will surely feature more prominently on Thursday. Fullkrug, in particular, has made his case to start in place of (or alongside) veteran Thomas Muller.
With greater urgency and a more direct approach, Germany look to be clicking just in time, and that puts Costa Rica in dangerous territory. There was a mixture of relief and belief on the German faces at the full-time whistle against Spain, and I expect that to translate to a patient, clinical performance here.
It’s worth remembering that a draw could be enough for Costa Rica if Spain beat Japan in the other Group E fixture — so Luis Fernando Suarez’s men are unlikely to shift from a defensive game plan that worked to perfection last time out. But there will be some reshuffling at the back as Francisco Calvo is suspended.
There shouldn’t be a lot of goal threat for the Germans to deal with and I’m counting on Flick’s men to eventually find a way through a stubborn Costa Rica rearguard.
My best bet: Germany to win to nil (-138 at bet365)
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Costa Rica vs Germany side analysis
After a blowout 7-0 loss against Spain in their opening group game, few could have predicted that Costa Rica would bounce back so resolutely and get into the mix for a spot in the Round of 16. But Los Ticos did just that with a gritty win over Japan to throw Group E wide open — and, in the process, help Germany’s chances of progressing.
Keysher Fuller grabbed the winner on Sunday with Costa Rica’s only shot on target, but that doesn’t feel like a repeatable formula against the Germans. Keep in mind that Los Ticos’ ability to withstand the Japanese attack was aided by Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu making five changes to the team that beat Germany.
Meanwhile, the message for the Germans here is clear: win by as large a margin as possible, since the group could come down to goal difference as a tiebreaker. A Germany win and a Japan draw would leave both teams locked on four points.
Expect Flick to make a few changes after seeing his substitutes make an immediate impact on Sunday. Germany looked much sharper after Fullkrug and Sane came off the bench to link up with Jamal Musiala. Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, and Thilo Kehrer are all walking a suspension tightrope after collecting yellow cards against Spain, but it’s the front three where lineup tweaks feel likeliest.
Costa Rica vs Germany Over/Under analysis
The game script seems predictable heading into Thursday’s contest, with Germany controlling possession and Costa Rica getting bodies behind the ball. Barring an early goal for the Germans, this could quickly settle into an attack vs. defense session, with Los Ticos focused on frustrating their heavyweight opponents.
I envision the same 3-4-2-1 formation that Suarez opted for against Japan, which easily morphs into two banks of defenders for opponents to navigate.
Given all that, the Under is an attractive play here. As much as I expect Germany to be proactive in chasing goals, they’ve only scored twice in the tournament so far, so this is hardly an attack that’s lighting up the World Cup. That said, the possible introduction of Fullkrug into the starting 11 could provide a major jolt.
Even if Costa Rica falls a goal behind, it’s tough to imagine a dramatic change in tactics. With a one-goal deficit, there’s an incentive to keep the score close and hope for a chance via a set piece or counter-attack. It becomes a different story if the Germans get two or more goals in front.
Much depends on the first 20 minutes in terms of setting the tone for the rest of the game — and whether Costa Rica can afford to stay in their defensive shell.
Costa Rica vs Germany game info
|Location:||al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar|
|Date:||Thursday, December 1, 2022|
|Time:||2:00 p.m. ET|
Costa Rica vs Germany key injuries
Costa Rica: No injuries to report.
Germany: No injuries to report.