Pinto braced for Greece challenge
By Football News
Jorge Luis Pinto heaped praise on Greece ahead of Costa Rica's FIFA World Cup last-16 encounter in Recife on Sunday.
Costa Rica and Greece were expected to make swift exits from Brazil but both defied the odds to reach the knockout phase after advancing from Groups D and C respectively.
Pinto's men are favourites to reach the quarter-finals following wins over Uruguay and Italy that saw them top Group D, while a last-minute penalty against Ivory Coast helped Greece sneak into the round of 16 behind Group C leaders Colombia.
But while the Costa Rica coach said his side can handle the pressure, he remains wary of an aggressive and technically skilled Greek team, who finished level on points with Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of World Cup qualifying.
"Greece are a very difficult team," Pinto said on the eve of the match.
"We have been studying them on video.
"They had a very tough qualification stage before the World Cup and here in Brazil they're doing well so far.
"We know we have to respect them at the same level or even more than we respected Uruguay, England or Italy.
"Greece knows how to defend well and they dominate the counter-attack. It is not easy to control them."
Pinto added: "We put the pressure on ourselves because we want to win.
"We want to do our best, to perform well, even if we respect Greece at the maximum.
"So our way of thinking does not change that much. We also want to be stable, not lose our mind, and being balanced. We need to be realistic in this World Cup's context.
"As we just saw in the match Brazil-Chile there is no easy game, there are no easy opponents. This is how we are treating Greece."
Meanwhile, veteran midfielder Michael Barrantes has shrugged off pre-game talk claiming Costa Rica are favourites to beat Greece at the Itaipava Arena Pernambuco.
"We are facing a great national team that deserves to stay at this stage," the 30-year-old said.
"We come at this stage knowing we have already surprised everyone.
"In football terms everyone is shocked by us. We came here doing our best, we didn't want to achieve an objective before coming. Right now, we are demonstrating it on the pitch.
"The team is working very well and for us it is the most important thing. I can't tell you which stage we are going to get, but I hope that it's further."