No evidence whatsoever at World Cup 2014 to suggest England should be odds on to beat Costa Rica on Tuesday and the Three Lions need opposing.
There was a glimmer of promise for England in their opening 2-1 defeat to Italy but I thought the praise had gone too far and, after all, they were a beaten side.
Next came Uruguay but Roy Hodgson’s side lack of ability to keep possession was alarming and England had seemingly regressed, losing by the same score line to the South Americans.
Luis Suarez was the hero for Uruguay, scoring both goals, and while England will not face an individual of his quality when playing Costa Rica, it is a team full of confidence.
Nobody could have predicted Costa Rica would have secured their place in the knockout phase with a game to spare when the Group D draw was made but they have shocked two of the so-called Big Three already and I couldn’t confidently rule out a hat-trick.
Their opening 3-1 triumph over Suarez and co was deemed a fluke but Costa Rica’s humbling of the mighty Italians thanks to Bryan Ruiz’s goal just before half-time certainly wasn’t and they have nothing to fear from their upcoming opponents.
Costa Rica would top the group with at least a point over the hapless Europeans and that is what they should be targeting.
An extremely winnable last 16 tie awaits should Costa Rica add to their haul, probably against Ivory Coast, and, while they wont be good enough to go all the way, a quarter-final spot is within their rasp.
Hodgson will undoubtedly give an outing to members of the squad yet to feature in Brazil at the finals but it will be extremely hard to motivate a group of players with nothing on the line and they probably are not good enough anyway.
2pts Lay England (vs. Costa Rica) @ 1.95 (Betfair)