Experienced goalkeeper Keylor Navas will surely have a key role to play if Costa Rica are going to repeat their heroics of Brazil four summers ago.
In their fifth World Cup finals appearance, the Costa Ricans stunned a heavyweight group that included Italy, Uruguay and England by coming out in top spot. Unbeaten in their group, Navas’ role could not be underestimated.
He was the hero of a last-16 win against Greece, producing a string of fine saves in a 1-1 draw before a defining stop in the penalty shoot-out in Recife.
Navas was again worth his weight in gold as the surprise package of the tournament eventually bowed out in the quarter-finals after another dramatic shoot-out against eventual third-place finishers the Netherlands.
Three shutouts in five games were enough to see Navan nominated for the tournament’s Golden Glove award.
Now 31, Navas has defied the nay-sayers in recent seasons to remain a key component at Real Madrid since the legendary Iker Casillas moved on from the Bernabeu.
He has a La Liga medal and two Champions League medals in his collection and is one of few members of the Costa Rican squad currently plying their trade in Europe.
His experience and big-game knowhow will be crucial, as will his super reflexes and shot-stopping, with Costa Rica once more ranked as outsiders in a group alongside Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.
As England and Italy found to their costs in 2014, getting by Navas isn’t easy, particularly with a well-drilled and organised defence protecting him.
The European duo that face Costa Rica this summer will do well not to underestimate them as they seek a third appearance in the knockouts stages in just their fifth World Cup Finals appearance.
Costa Rica are 3.60 to win their opening game against Serbia on June 17. The Serbs are favourites at 2.05, with the draw priced at 3.30.