As the group stage comes to an end with two teams from each remaining in Brazil and the rest heading back home, we at Outside of the Boot have analysed each group, paying focus to four key aspects — the primary tactical system that was noticeably successful, the individual game changing performance that decided which way a result went, the most consistent and best young player across the three games (Talent Radar) with the players qualifying no more than 22-years-old and an XI of the best players from the group.
In what was officially the group of death based on FIFA’s rankings, the two teams least expected to get knocked out, did, while a less than impressive Uruguay and incredible Costa Rica are through. The CONCACAF minnows go through as the group champions having won two of their games and drawn a meaningless one with top spot already secured. Uruguay lost their opener and it all looked doom & gloom until they turned up for the next two. All the talk is Luis Suarez though, his absence will hurt.
Key Tactical System
As is becoming quite evident this tournament, the performance of a side’s full-backs, above any other position, is key to determine the success of the side. It’s vital how the management decide to deploy these players and strike a balance between defence & attack. The key tactical trend from this group thus is the use of Costa Rica’s full-backs, which they have done excellently. Diaz on one side and Gamboa on the other have been defensively solid, as they’ve had to, while also helped by their three central defenders. Conceding just one goal to opponents like Cavani, Rooney, Sturridge, Balotelli is absolutely no easy task.
Cristian Gamboa & Junior Diaz averaged an incredible 8 tackles/game between them in the group stage (according to WhoScored) while also crucially providing width to the Costa Rican attack. While they are seen moving forward to assist in attack, their real contribution is at the back and will continue to be so. Credit has to be given to the midfield that cover for them, but the sheer organisation in Pinto’s side is quite remarkable.
Since we’re purely talking about a game-changing performance, and at the risk of raising controversy, this would have to go to Luis Suarez’ two goal haul against England. The reason being, that despite being less than fit and remaining isolated, the Uruguayan side rested all their hopes both tactically and philosophically in the Liverpool striker. They set-up against England to defend, soak in the pressure and hope that Suarez takes his chances; he got two chances and England went home.
With Costa Rica being the surprise package of the tournament, a lot of credit has to go to their young attacker in Joel Campbell. His biggest contribution came against Uruguay in the opener where he scored one and set-up another, completely controlling the Costa Rican attack. Here’s a detailed analysis of his performance. Against Italy too he managed to threaten the three-man defence, despite being the only real attacking threat. He’s shouldering Costa Rica’s attack at just 21 years of age.
Players in red are Talent Radar youngsters
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Co-founder and Chief Editor here. Obsessed with tactics. Keen follower of young players. Creator of #TalentRadar. Appeared in A Football Report's list of "Best in Football Writing 2012".
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