Belgium v Costa Rica, Preview, Stats and Betting Tips, Monday 11th June 2018, Heysel Stadium, Kick off: 19:45

Costa Rica cannot be accused of taking their preparations for the World Cup lightly. After bidding farewell to their home fans with a comfortable win over Northern Ireland in San Jose they took on England at Elland Road. Two friendlies would be enough for most teams heading to the World Cup but Oscar Ramirez has one more chance to test out his players before flying to Russia when Costa Rica face Belgium on Monday night.

This is also Belgium’s final match before their World Cup campaign gets underway but will Roberto Martinez’s men send the Belgium fans home confident about their chances in Russia?

Check out the latest World Cup Betting Offers and Promotions – including an enhanced odds offer on Belgium to win the tournament!

Belgium v Costa Rica Head to Head Record

  • Belgium 1-0 Costa Rica – 26 May 2002, Friendly

Belgium v Costa Rica Preview

You got the feeling that Martinez and his Belgium players needed a big performance against Egypt. Despite having as much talent in their ranks as almost any squad competing at the 2018 World Cup some Belgium fans were finding it tough to get too excited about their team’s chances. Martinez has fallen out with players and made some strange decisions so it was no surprise to see the critics out in force following the recent 0-0 draw with Portugal. The former Everton and Wigan manager must have allowed himself a sigh of relief then when Belgium dismantled Egypt 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Belgium lined up in the same 3-4-2-1 formation in both matches and Martinez only made a couple of changes to his starting XI but there was a noticeably different approach to the Egypt match from the players. It was almost as if they were stung by the criticism in the wake of the goalless draw with Portugal and wanted to prove their credentials as World Cup dark horses.

Optimistic Belgium fans will hope that their team’s chances in the World Cup have been improved for the players having something of a kick up the backside. Pessimists, however, will point out that Belgium are yet to beat a team in the top 40 of the official FIFA rankings under Martinez’s stewardship.

One of the difficulties that Martinez has had since being appointed Belgium manager is trying to impose his own style of football on a group of players he only sees infrequently. In stark contrast, Oscar Ramirez took the decision to keep things simple by maintaining the tactical approach of his predecessor, Jorge Luis Pinto.

Costa Rica are a very well drilled defensive unit and while they’re not capable of the sort of football that Martinez has employed in his time in management, there is no arguing with results. Costa Rica made it to the quarter finals of the 2014 World Cup and will hope they can upset the odds once again in Russia by frustrating their opponents.

Relevant Stats, Injuries and Suspensions

The stats paint a picture of just how attack minded Belgium are under Martinez’s management. They broke the record for the number of goals scored in UEFA qualifying for the World Cup with 43 but more impressive is the fact that they only dropped points in one match. With a probable front three of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens, Belgium are sure to be one of the top scorers at the World Cup and they should have little trouble scoring against Costa Rica even if with the outstanding Keylor Navas between the posts.

While Martinez may choose to start with the majority of the players who will play in the World Cup opener against Tunisia, he looks set to be without Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen. Both centre backs have been included in the Belgium squad for Russia but they’re struggling for fitness so don’t expect them to be risked on Monday night.

Belgium v Costa Rica Tips

Costa Rica are happy being cast in the role of spoilers. They’ve worked very hard over a number of years to instil a hard working, defensive mindset and that’s not going to change any time soon. It’s unlikely that approach will take them as it did as four years ago in Brazil but they will certainly make Belgium work hard for their chances on Monday night. The hosts are the worthy favourites but rather than simply backing them, consider the 27/10 that Ladbrokes are quoting on the draw/Belgium selection in their half time/full time market.

Another way of approaching this match is by betting on the second half having more goals than the first at a best price of 10/11 with Paddy Power. Belgium also look a good price to win to nil at 31/40 with BetVictor.