• Saturday Dec 02, 2017

    For Costa Rica’s Ramirez, World Cup draw has familiar look

    Oscar Ramirez (pictured) played for Costa Rica against Brazil in the 1990 World Cup and will coach against the five-time champion in the 2018 edition. (Photo: Mexsport)

    MOSCOW -- On Friday, from Moscow’s Kremlin State Palace, Costa Rica was drawn into Group E for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with five-time champion Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia.

    For head coach Oscar Ramirez, it was a setup that looked familiar. He played for Costa Rica in the 1990 World Cup, where the Ticos – in their tournament debut -- faced Brazil, Scotland and Sweden, ultimately finishing second in their group.

    “The draw left me with a very good feeling,” Ramirez said. “It reminds me a lot of the World Cup in Italy, having Brazil in the lead and then two European teams. Even the order of the matches is very similar.”

    Each of Costa Rica’s opponents averaged two goals or more per game in qualifying, while the Ticos allowed only 11 in 16 CONCACAF outings. The battle of productive offenses against a tight defense appeals to Ramirez.

    “I like that the three teams try to play football,” the 52-year-old finished. “Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia, having seen them, they are teams that like the combination game. Equally, they have their transitions that everyone manages. Brazil handles a lot of individual football and was a very strong in the entire South American qualifying.”

    Costa Rica will be competing in its fifth World Cup, progressing as far as the quarterfinals in 2014.

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    Costa Rica – 2018 FIFA World Cup Schedule (Group E)

    June 17: Serbia (Cosmos Arena -- Samara)
    June 22: Korea Republic (; Krestovsky Stadium -- Saint Petersburg)
    June 27: Switzerland (Nizhny Novgorod Stadium -- Nizhny Novgorod)

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