By Michael Place MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) --
Xinhua identifies four things to look out for on match day four
of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
• Costa Rica searching for old winning formula:
Costa Rica surprised everyone four years ago by making it
all the way to quarterfinals in Brazil.
However the momentum from that unlikely run slowed long ago
and Los Ticos have won just two of seven friendlies since
securing a World Cup spot.
The Central Americans’ first outing here will be against
Serbia on Sunday in the southwestern city of Samara. Real Madrid
goalkeeper Keylor Navas is the team’s brightest star and he
conceded just eight goals in 10 matches during the second stage
• Milinkovic-Savic to show his wares:
also been less than convincing of late.
Mladen Krstajic’s side have won three of six
friendlies since qualifying for Russia with a final-day victory
Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic might have added
incentive to perform well amid reports that he is being
monitored by Real Madrid and Manchester United.
• Germany start quest for back-to-back glory:
Germany are hoping to become the first team to defend their
title since Brazil in 1962.
The current side has many players that were part of the
victorious 2014 squad, including influential midfielders Toni
Kroos and Mesut Ozil and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
The team’s form going into the tournament hasn’t been great,
with a 2-1 loss to Austria and an unconvincing 2-1 win over
Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
They will get their World Cup campaign underway with a clash
against Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Mexico have won only one of their 11 matches against Germany
and that was way back in 1985.
The only time the teams have met in Russia was in the
semifinals of last year’s Confederations Cup, when Germany won
The Tri boast a dangerous attack, led by Javier Hernandez and
Raul Jimenez, even if the pair’s recent club form has been less
• Brazil regain swagger:
Brazil will start the
tournament with a clash against Switzerland in
The Selecao are on a roll, having lost just once in 20 games
since coach Tite took over from Dunga in June 2016. Unlike in
2014, this Brazil squad boasts world class players all over the
pitch, particularly in the final third, where a fit-again Neymar,
Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho will instil trepidation in
Much has been said about Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany in the
semifinals four years ago, but there is a sense that Tite has
put that ghost to rest and that this team is perhaps ready to
write a new chapter in the country’s storied football history.
• Switzerland to sit back:
Switzerland will be no pushovers
for Brazil, or any other rival.Vladimir Petkovic’s side won nine
games in a row in qualifying and were also unbeaten in four
pre-World Cup friendlies, including a 1-1 draw with Spain.
There is little to suggest that Petkovic will stray from his
tried and trusted game plan based on sitting deep and hitting
teams on the counter. Their most potent attacking threat is
Xherdan Shaqiri, who has scored or set up five of the team’s
last six goals in major tournaments.