Costa Rica v Greece: We have to think big, says Ticos boss
Minnows won't be happy with just a place in the last 16
Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto has called on his side to “think big” in their quest for a historical first appearance in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Costa Rica play Greece in the last 16 in Recife on Sunday after an impressive Group D campaign saw them beat Uruguay 3-1 and Italy 1-0 before finishing with a scoreless draw against England.
Pinto expects a “complex, counter-attacking” game from Fernando Santos’s side and despite the ’Ticos’ recent fine form, he admits it will be tough.
But the 61-year-old Colombian said Costa Rica had no reason to believe they could not continue their fairytale campaign.
“We have to think realistically, but we have to think big,” said Pinto when asked his opinion on media predictions suggesting Costa Rica could make the semi-finals.
“But first things first. Let’s concentrate on Greece first and try to win that.”
Despite Greece’s comparatively mediocre group campaign -- they squeezed into the last 16 only after a last-gasp penalty secured a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast -- Pinto said it’s back to square one.
He believes Greece can still call on the solid, defensive bloc that helped them to a surprise title at the European Championships a decade ago.
And he predicted they would be an aggressive side that would be difficult to break down.
“Perhaps they didn’t do well against Colombia (the lost 3-0), and against Ivory Coast they only got the victory in the final minutes, but they will come onto the pitch aggressively and technically they’re very good,” he said.
“They don’t have many shortcomings. They can also play a very complex counter-attacking game.”
Pinto, who studied for years to become a top coach without ever playing professionally, is known to sit for hours with his assistants analysing video footage of opposition players and teams.
Ahead of Costa Rica’s date with World Cup destiny, the formula has remained the same -- except this time, Pinto has had input from Joel Campbell, the Arsenal striker who played on loan at Olympiakos last season.
“I’ve watched around 30 football matches from Greece -- Joel plays there -- not just (Greece against) Columbia or Ivory Coast,” added Pinto.
“We’ve done our homework into how they play and we have a wealth of information on the team and its players.”