Spain sits seventh in the FIFA Rankings, 24 places above their opponents in this opening game at Al Thumama Stadium, and Spain is the shortest-priced favourite among the first set of group games. All three previous meetings since their first encounter 11 years ago have seen three or more goals, with La Roja running out convincing 5-0 winners in their last match five years ago. Spain begins its bid for a second World Cup win with sufficient squad depth to be able to leave out Sergio Ramos, Thiago Alcântara, and David de Gea. A concern for Costa Rica has been the ongoing back problems suffered by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Los Ticos’ only defeat in their first 12 games in 2022 came in Panama, a run that included a win over the US and a draw in Mexico, while Spain topped their Nations League group, ahead of Portugal. Spain achieved an average of 76% possession during the qualifiers and, with Costa Rica likely to set up in a 5-4-1 formation and launch counter-attacks, Spain will have plenty of the ball. This game will take place shortly after the Germany vs Japan game finishes, in arguably the tournament’s strongest group.