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Preview: Honduras vs. Costa Rica - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Honduras vs. Costa Rica - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's CONCACAF Nations League third-placed playoff between Honduras and Costa Rica, including predictions, team news and lineups.
Sports Mole

Honduras meet Costa Rica on Sunday in Denver for the third-placed playoff fixture in the 2021 CONCACAF Nations League.

Both teams qualified for this year's finals after topping their respective groups in the inaugural season of the international tournament in 2019.


Match preview

Honduras dominated Group 3 in the CONCACAF Nations League, after three victories and one draw saw them finish seven points clear at the summit and qualify for the next stage of the tournament.

This stage of the competition was supposed to be completed this time last year, but the global pandemic meant that CONCACAF rescheduled the finals to be played this year.

Fabian Coito's side missed out on a place in the final after USA's Jordan Siebatcheu broke the deadlock between the two sides just one minute from time.

That result continued a poor run of form for Honduras, who have not won since the group stages at the end of 2019, suffering a run of five games without a victory, including friendly matches.

Honduras' opponents on Sunday enter this fixture in just as bad form, with Ronald Gonzalez's side also not recording a victory since late 2019, their winless run extending to nine games after their defeat to Mexico in the semi-final.

The semi-final against Mexico was a tight game and after 90 minutes there was nothing to split the two sides, so the game went straight to penalties which Costa Rica lost 5-4.

Midfielder Allan Cruz was not in the first five penalty takers for Costa Rica and a sixth spot kick was needed from both teams, and after Jesus Gallardo scored from 12-yards for Mexico, all the pressure was on Cruz, who missed his penalty.

That game was the second time this year Mexico got the better of Costa Rica after they met in March for a friendly fixture, which Mexico won 1-0 after a late goal from Hirving Lozano.

The meeting at the Empower Field at Mile High Stadium is the first between Honduras and Costa Rica since 2017, and in modern history neither team has ever scored more than one goal against their opponent.

Honduras CONCACAF Nations League form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Honduras form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Costa Rica CONCACAF Nations League form:
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L

Costa Rica form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Honduras are likely to set up in a 4-4-2 formation with goalkeeper Luis Lopez, who has 28 caps, in between the posts for Coito's side.

Anthony Lozano and Alberth Elis led the line as a strike partnership last time out against USA and they are expected to start again.

Coito will be without midfielder Rigoberto Rivas, though, after he was stretchered off during the semi-final defeat to USA.

Costa Rica also usually opt for a back four which in their last game was made up from Bryan Oviedo, Francisco Calvo, Oscar Duarte and Keysher Fuller.

Having not scored in their last three games in all competitions, Costa Rica will be hoping that striker Joel Campbell can find inspiration to lead his team to a third-placed finish in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Honduras possible starting lineup:
L Lopez; Rodriguez, Figueroa, Pereira, Alvarez; Toro, A Lopez, Flores, Benavidez; Lozano, Elis

Costa Rica possible starting lineup:
Moreira; Oviedo, Calvo, Duarte, Fuller; Leal, Tejeda, Borges, Martinez; Ruiz; Campbell


We say: Honduras 1-0 Costa Rica

History suggests that games involving these two sides are always close and that is why only one goal could be needed to settle this third-place playoff tie.

USA have developed well recently and after only just missing out on beating them, Honduras should take confidence from that game and that may be enough to see them pick up a bronze medal.


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