We pick Steven Zuber, Manuel Akanji and Joel Campbell as the three names who could influence the result of the match between Switzerland and Costa Rica.
Switzerland need just a draw going into the match against Costa Rica. The Swiss team has shown brilliant willpower to mount comebacks in both their games so far. The group is evenly poised, with Brazil and Switzerland at 4 points each and Serbia at 3.
Switzerland need just a draw to ensure their place in the Round of 16, irrespective of the result in the corresponding match of their group.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, will be playing for pride, with several players likely to be playing in their last World Cup. They would not want to match their 2006 World Cup campaign, where they bowed out with 0 points on the board.
We pick three names who can have a major impact in the game.
While all eyes will be peeled on the golden boy of Swiss football, Xherdan Shaqiri, Steven Zuber has silently been doing his job on the other wing with his well-timed runs in the box and using the overlapping presence of Ricardo Rodriguez to trouble the opposition defence.
Zuber was the man responsible for earning a point against Brazil and was one of the better performers against Serbia. The team knows Shaqiri will be closely marked by the Costa Rican defence, which means it could be up to Zuber again to rescue Switzerland’s World Cup campaign.
Judging by his campaign so far, the Hoffenheim man is likely to be more than up for it.
🇨🇭 Manuel Akanji (22) vs Serbia:
7/10 aerial duels
Back-to-back top class defensive performances. pic.twitter.com/yAxFap5Ovl
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) June 22, 2018
People might not have known much of Akanji, despite him earning a move to Borussia Dortmund. But, they would have been shocked by the maturity being displayed by the 22-year-old at the back. His improvement from 2017 to 2018 has been impressive.
Akanji often faced flak for a lack of concentration and ability to command a presence in air. But, the 22-year-old seems to have worked on his weaknesses, which has showed in the two performances so far. Akanji is a trademark modern centre-back.
Oodles of pace combined with an eye for a pass and technical prowess, Akanji is the kind of centre-back that excites viewers. The player has, unarguably, been Switzerland’s best defender at the World Cup thus far and would love to close out the group stage with another masterclass.
The former Arsenal star would be gutted to not have been chosen in the starting lineup for either match. But, with Costa Rica now confirmed to be going back home from the group stage, Oscar Ramirez should afford a chance for Joel Campbell to impact the game from the get-go.
An explosive presence, Joel Campbell can change the shape of the game and given a chance, can surely aid in Costa Rica scoring their first goal of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.