- Canada can clinch a first World Cup appearance in 36 years with a win in Costa Rica on Thursday
- Fifth-place Costa Rica also has much to play for, with automatic qualification still a target
- Read on for betting odds, a full preview, and the best bet for this CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match
Two teams with everything to play for will meet in the Costa Rica capital of San Jose on Thursday, March 24th. Canada can bring its 36-year wait for a World Cup berth to an end with a victory, while the home side can inch closer to a top-three spot and automatic qualification by securing the three points for themselves.
The Canadian men have been in an irresistible form of late, winning six consecutive games in the final round of World Cup qualifying to ease into first place in the Octagon, a run that has seen them beat the region’s traditional powerhouses in Mexico and the United States. That run has seen their World Cup odds cut to +15000. Costa Rica, meanwhile, is unbeaten in four since losing 1-0 in Canada back in November.
Costa Rica vs Canada Odds
|Costa Rica vs Canada||COS +0.5 (-190) | CAN -0.5 (+155)||COS +200 | CAN +145 | DRAW +188||Ov 1.5 (-175) | Un 1.5 (+138)|
Odds as of March 23rd at Barstool Sportsbook
A close game is expected in San Jose, with so much to play for and Canada a narrow +145 favorite to Costa Rica’s +200 in the soccer betting odds, but there should be at least a couple of goals on offer, with Over 1.5 goals listed at -175 odds.
Costa Rican Desperation
There aren’t many other ways to put it – the home side needs a victory in the worst way possible. With a trip to El Salvador followed by a home match against the US to finish up the final round of World Cup qualifying, Costa Rica really requires all three points here to keep in touch with fourth-place Panama, currently a point in front and facing a home match against Honduras the same night.
This is it.
March 24 – vs Costa Rica🇨🇷
March 27 – vs Jamaica🇯🇲
March 30 – vs Panama🇵🇦
— Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6) March 23, 2022
A top-three spot and the accompanying automatic qualification seems something of a pipe dream with Mexico and the US five points clear of Costa Rica in the table, but fourth place still offers a shot at Qatar through an intercontinental playoff. With a capacity home crowd to cheer the team on, head coach Luis Fernando Suarez will be hoping his team can continue its uptick of form since November’s loss in Canada, which has seen his team win three and draw one, scoring four and conceding a solitary goal in the process.
Costa Rican Conundrum
Suarez’s biggest problem throughout qualifying has been finding goals. Costa Rica’s defense has actually been fairly stout, conceding just seven goals, tied with the US for the second-best defensive record in the region.
But the team has scored just eight goals through 11 games, and nobody has scored more than the two goals provided by captain Bryan Ruiz.
However, the team can also fall back on its impressive record against Canada at home, where it has lost just once – in a 1993 friendly – and conceded just two goals.
Costa Rica vs Canada World Cup Qualifying Stats
Canada’s Defensive Foundation
While the likes of Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies capture many of the headlines with their offensive fireworks, it’s the team’s backline that has provided the stability that has fuelled Canada’s World Cup journey so far.
🇨🇦Julian de Guzman and @TSNScianitti continue our coverage from Costa Rica, as the best defence in Concacaf looks to lock down the #CANMNT spot in the #WorldCup2022 ‼️ #questforqatar pic.twitter.com/lqILxXx1mV
— TSN Soccer (@TSNSoccer) March 22, 2022
The defensive unit has conceded just five goals through 11 games so far in the Octagon, the fewest of the eight teams, and has kept six clean sheets. On top of that, the team has yet to concede more than one goal in any game, which has done much to power Canada to the only unbeaten record in the region’s final round of World Cup qualifying.
David, Larin Firing On All Cylinders
Up front, Canada has been no less dominant, scoring 19 times so far, the most in the Octagon. But while there have been notable contributions from throughout the lineup, it’s been a pair of European-based forwards who have provided most of the tallies.
Cyle Larin, now Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer with 23, has five of those 19 goals, building on the seven he scored in earlier qualifying rounds. He’s been more than ably abetted by Jonathan David, the fourth-leading scorer for Lille in France’s Ligue 1, just two goals back of Kylian Mbappe. David has also scored five times in this final round of qualifying, scoring the winner against Costa Rica when the two teams met in Edmonton last November.
Also, interestingly enough, Jonathan David alone has 15 goal involvements this cycle (9 goals, 6 assists), matching the #CanMNT's goal total from the 2018 cycle
— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) March 21, 2022
With offensive stars like Davies still out for Thursday’s game with myocarditis, head coach John Herdman will again be counting on his in-form strike duo to power Canada to a seventh straight victory.
Costa Rica vs Canada Pick
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Canada has already shown it can win without its biggest star, and with momentum on its side coming into this match, an away win from the +145 favorites would hardly be surprising on Thursday evening to secure World Cup qualification. But a desperate Costa Rica has shown to be a dangerous Costa Rica, and a hard-fought draw seems the most likely result.
Best bet: Draw (+188)