SPAIN start their World Cup campaign on Wednesday against Costa Rica, who proved they can cause excitement by winning their group in England in 2014.
Luis Enrique’s side will be wary of the Costa Ricans, who qualified for the tournament through the playoffs.
Costa Rica didn’t make it to the knockout rounds in 2018, but four years earlier in Brazil they somehow led a group that included England, Italy and Uruguay.
Saudi Arabia’s impressive 2-1 win over Argentina will make the Spaniards even more wary that wins are not guaranteed at the World Cup.
With heavyweights Germany also in their group, Spain will only know three points when they start their campaign at Al Thumama Stadium.
Here SunSport previews the Group E clash.
How did you get there?
Spain: Finished first in their qualifying group ahead of Sweden.
They won six of their eight games but risked a play-off if they lost their last game against the Swedes.
In the end, an 86th-minute Alvaro Morata winner secured first place and an automatic ticket to Qatar.
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Costa Rica: Kept their nerve and secured a place at the World Cup with a nervous 1-0 play-off win over New Zealand.
Fourth behind the USA in the third round of CONCACAF qualification, which they did not advance automatically.
what is the form
Spain: The Spaniards enter the tournament in good form, having won four of their last five games.
That included a 1-0 win over rivals Portugal in November, Morata reappearing with a late winner.
But they were also beaten by Switzerland in September, so Costa Rica will know there are weaknesses against Spain.
Costa Rica: Also in great form and unbeaten in 12 games this calendar year.
Beat Nigeria 2-0 in a friendly earlier this month and have also beaten the USA and Canada in recent months.
Who are the managers?
Spain: Luis Enrique wasn’t afraid to leave star names out of his Qatar tour party.
The 52-year-old ex-Barcelona gaffer dropped David De Gea, Sergio Ramos and Thiago Alcantara from his squad.
Has won 62 caps for Spain as a player and has appeared in three World Cups.
Costa Rica: Luis Fernando Suarez is leading Costa Rica into the tournament after taking on the role last year.
The 62-year-old from Colombia has World Cup experience, having been in charge of Ecuador in 2006 when his side were knocked out by England in the Round of 16.
He also led Honduras at the 2014 World Cup.
Who are the Star Players?
Spain: PEDRI has already been capped 14 times by Spain despite being just 19 years old.
The teenager is considered a star at Barcelona, where he is already a mainstay in Xavi’s team.
And Barca rate him so highly that they keep him ONE BILLION EUROS release clause in the new contract he signed last year.
Costa Rica: JOEL CAMPBELL secured Costa Rica’s place in the tournament with the decisive goal in their play-off win over New Zealand.
The 30-year-old former Arsenal striker now plays his club football in Mexico with Leon.
Has yet to find his goalscoring boots with just one game in 18 this season but hopes that can change in Qatar.
What is head to head?
Spain wins: 2
Costa Rica wins: 0
Which TV station is showing the game?
Spain v Costa Rice is shown live on ITV 1 in the UK.
It will also stream live on ITVX.
How are the chances?
Spain wins: 2-13
Costa Rica win: 20-1
In this case, Spain will simply have too much for Costa Rica, which is ranked 31st in the world.
They will consistently dominate the ball and while it may take a while for them to gel, that possession is likely to result in goals.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6743730/spain-costa-rica-world-cup-preview-pedri/ Spain v Costa Rica – World Cup Group E: How they got there, form and prediction as Spain look to avoid shock loss