Prior to the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Costa Rica was among the favorites to get a ticket to Qatar. However, Los Ticos have been struggling and now come in a must-win situation. Losing to visiting Panama could leave them eight points behind fourth place in the CONCACAF standings, and they still have to visit Mexico and the United States.
Panama’s situation is completely different. A draw (+215 in the sportsbook) would be a good deal for them. That would also be a good deal for all those who don’t believe in Costa Rica, the favorite at -110.
Costa Rica vs Panama 2022 World Cup Qualifiers
Los Ticos Glad to Return Home
Costa Rica has qualified for four of the last five World Cups. That’s why seeing them in fifth place, five points behind fourth place, is such a surprise. I’m sure head coach Luis Fernando Suarez accepted the job with a completely different picture in mind.
Most recently, Los Ticos defeated Honduras 2-1 in San Jose. They did it with a last-minute goal from Gerson Torres, who came off the bench. Keylor Navas also had a lot to do with the victory. The PSG goalkeeper denied Honduras’ attacking efforts several times.
Los Ticos own a 2-3-3 record, with both victories at home. That’s why they dominate the soccer lines despite sitting in fifth place. Only Mexico has managed to win at Estadio Nacional and suffered a lot to do it. In fact, they won 1-0 thanks to a controversial penalty.
Suarez likes to play 4-5-1, but Costa Rica must take the reins of the game right from the start. With that in mind, I expect them to play 4-3-3 in order to put some pressure on Panama’s defense and create more chances.
No major injuries to report here. Costa Rica’s predicted lineup: Keylor Navas; Bryan Oviedo, Francisco Calvo, Kendall Waston, Ricardo Blanco; Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges, Orlando Galo; Joel Campbell, Gerson Torres, Johan Venegas.
Panama on Right Track
Head coach Thomas Christiansen has done a great job establishing a winning mentality. Panama sits in fourth place thanks to a 4-2-2 record. Los Canaleros have scored 11 goals, same as Mexico, and allowed nine.
Panama won its last road game, 3-2 in Honduras. They overcame a two-goal deficit in the last 13 minutes of the game. Cecilio Waterman, Cesar Yanis and Erick Davis were the scorers. This team never gives up.
In their last game, they also had to turn things around after conceding a goal one minute into the match. It was against El Salvador, and Los Canaleros reacted in the second half with goals from Waterman and Freddy Gondola.
As you probably already figured out, Waterman is Panama’s top scorer. He alone has scored six goals, same as Costa Rica in total, and more than El Salvador and Honduras. Gondola could also end up being crucial because he now plays in Costa Rica’s domestic league. He must have some valuable information, right?
No major injuries to report here either. Panama’s predicted lineup: Luis Mejia; Michael Murillo, Fidel Escobar, Andres Cedeno, Erick Davis; Omar Browne, Anibal Godoy, Adalberto Carrasquilla, Cesar Yanis; Cecilio Waterman, Jose Fajardo.
Costa Rica vs Panama Head to Head
- Previous Matches: 46
- Costa Rica Victories: 22 (101 goals)
- Panama Victories: 11 (41 goals)
- Draws: 13
Costa Rica was also the betting online favorite for their first meeting, but the game ended with a goalless draw. Once again, Los Ticos can thank Navas for that. Panama won possession with 57 percent and finished making 18 shots.
Los Ticos won four of their last five encounters in San Jose, but the last one also finished 0-0.
Costa Rica vs Panama Game Information
- Date: Thursday
- Time: 9:05 p.m. ET
- Location: Estadio Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica
- Costa Rica vs Panama Live Stream: fuboTV
Costa Rica vs Panama Betting Lines
|Costa Rica||-½ -110||-110||2 -145o||1½ +150o |
|Panama||+½ -120||+320||2 +115u||½ -150o |
Costa Rica vs Panama Prediction
I don’t think Costa Rica is the better team anymore. Yes, Los Ticos has a more experienced roster, but Panama has narrowed the gap considerably when it comes to talent. The visitors know this is a golden opportunity, so I expect them to heavily rely on the counter-attack. With that in mind, my football prediction is another draw, but this time both will score.
Score Prediction: Costa Rica 1, Panama 1