FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Mexico v Costa Rica
By Football News
Mexico and Costa Rica play for the third time in FIFA World Cup qualifying on Wednesday as the battle to reach Brazil intensifies.
The sides are level at the top of the table halfway through the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying as they both seek to claim one of the three automatic places in next year's finals.
Costa Rica have not qualified for a World Cup since 2006 but lead the way on goal difference after an impressive campaign, and they also have a game in hand on both Mexico and USA.
Jorge Luis Pinto's side have only conceded five goals in their last 13 matches, and have won their last three games with Levante goalkeeper Keilor Navas keeping three consecutive clean sheets in that time.
No single outfield player has dominated the scoring to lead Costa Rica to the top of the pool, although captain Bryan Ruiz represents a constant source of creativity in attack.
Mexico are also in good form - having not lost since August 2012 - although they have also only won once in 2013. Javier Hernandez has become the man they look to for goals, the Manchester United forward scoring four of their last five, and he is sure to be crucial in their progression towards Brazil.
Both sides were drawn in the same group for round three of qualifying with Mexico topping that group by eight points.
On the previous two occasions the sides met, Mexico came away triumphant thanks to a 2-0 victory in San Jose a narrow 1-0 success in Mexico City.
Goals from Carlos Salcido and Jesus Zavala won the match in Costa Rica, with Hernandez striking just after the hour to win the match at home.