A regular series as part of our World Cup coverage under the Talent Radar banner is aimed at the tons of aspiring football hipsters out there. We will track the progress of all young players at the World Cup, focusing on each and every game and compiling a detailed analysis. The eligibility criteria for this is simple, the player must have been 21 or below at the start of the season (2013-14).
When you’d be lining up against the likes of Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan you wouldn’t be expecting to hog the limelight but that is exactly what the young Joel Campbell did against Uruguay last night. He inspired his Costa Rican side to a dominant and unexpected 3-1 victory over a strong South American opposition.
Uruguay might have taken the lead in the 24th minute but that didn’t stop Costa Rica from continuing their attack minded football. Joel Campbell then took the initiative and fired his side level in the 53rd minute with a smashing shot from a Gamboa cross which a hapless Muslera could do nothing about. In about three minutes Costa Rica took the lead and then in the 63rd minute Joel Campbell was at it again and had almost scored his brace when he fired just above the bar. His pace and agility continued to trouble the Uruguayan back four and he proved insanely difficult to control. Joel Campbell then provided a defence splitting pass for Urena which then saw Costa Rica wrap up the game and shock the Group D favourites.
Joel Campbell’s speed proved to be Costa Rica’s surprise weapon and helped them exploit the Uruguayan defence. The Arsenal loanee’s direct and athletic runs at the Uruguayan back four, jinking and feinting along the way and stunning with every stride he made forward. The Costa Rican coach later admitted that he had instructed his full backs to move forward so that they could provide more of the ball to Joel Campbell, how many teams put that sort of faith in a 21 year old?
Arsenal the team that Joel Campbell belongs to would have been drooling at his display and would’ve set off his work permit process based on his extraordinary game. One word to perfectly describe Joel Campbell’s performance would be irrepressible and he truly was so. Who would’ve expected a 21 year old to shackle a backline comprising of more than 300 international caps?
Towards the end of the game you could rightly see the desperation the Uruguayans had to quiet Campbell with Maxi Pereira’s horror tackle on Joel Campbell which eventually led to a red card. This young boy has a bright future and let’s hope for all the football fans out their that he can emulate his performance against the far more disciplined backlines of Italy and England. You never know, he might just be the find of the tournament!