November 26, 2022

Full-time: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica
A vintage performance from Spain. The most impressive display from any team so far?
Three goals in the first half, four in the second yet I'd argue the performance before half-time was even better than that in the second period. A faultless performance from Luis Enrique's men, who were bright and slick in possession, although their work off the ball was perhaps even more impressive. In attack, their movement allowed them to find space between and in behind the Costa Rica midfield and defence, while they relentlessly pressed to regain possession on the rare occasion that Costa Rica had the ball. Luis Enrique will want his team to play like that every time they take to the field. 
A match to forget for Costa Rica, who set up defensively with a back five but had to rip up their game plan after only 11 minutes. It's hard to say that Luis Fernando Suárez's side played badly in possession because they saw so little of the ball but they really struggled to deal with Spain's passing and movement. A game for them to put to the back of their minds as quickly as possible ahead of their next match. 
Belgium vs Canada live online: Davies misses penalty, first half, score, stats and updates 0-0, Qatar World Cup 2022
Just a little reminder that Wednesday's soccer is not over!
Belgium and Canada are currently in action, be sure to join Kieran for that one. There's already been a fairly major incident in it…
What's next for Spain and Costa Rica
Costa Rica will hope to fare better in their next game, which is against Japan on Sunday, 27 November (5am ET)
Spain will be full of confidence to take on a Germany side that could be out if they lose a second straight match. That match is also on Sunday, 27 November (2pm ET)
Spain: pass masters
Fancy another Spain passing stat before we go?
This is a good one.
Costa Rica's Joel Campbell: Not the game we wanted
Costa Rica winger Joel Campbell fronted up after a tough day at the office:
"Obviously, it's not the game we wanted. It's hard to take."
"Spain were much better than us from start to finish, they deserved it."
"We know all about Spain and their passing game. Their movement and technical ability is incredibly good and they were on their game."
"We just have to try to win our next game, we still have a chance to qualify."
Luis Enrique: We were exceptional but we still have room for improvement
Spain head coach Luis Enrique was understandably delighted with his team's display and was full of praise for debutant Alejandro Balde, goalscorer Marco Asensio and Rodri, who played in an unfamiliar central defensive role:
"When things work out exactly as you'd hoped, it's an amazing feeling. We were exceptional in our control of the ball and at stopping them from causing us problems."
"Our objective in every single game is to dominate the game and to do that, you have to have the ball. We want our opponents to find it hard to play against us and get frustrated. Our pressing was so good today too. But we still have room for improvement."
"We know that Rodri has the skillset to play in central defence. He's a complete player, which makes his very versatile. I'm lucky to have so many players that can play different roles and make a big contribution."
"I don't like playing with the same team in every game. We're not here to just play with 11 players. I don't think I've ever named an unchanged team."
"We want to have lots of positivity around the team, which is great but tomorrow we'll start thinking about the Germany game. We're not going to win every game by such a big margin."
"It was the perfect moment to give Balde his debut. It was good to give Alba, and Busquets too, a rest. We've not had much time to work with Balde but he was flying."
"Asensio was incredible. He's full of confidence, his all-round play was fantastic. He's a top player."   
Carlos Soler: We could've scored even more goals
PSG midfielder Carlos Soler came off the bench to score in the second half and urged caution despite the excellent display:
"We're really happy. Obviously, we never imagined we'd win by such a big margin. We could've scored even more goals but we played really well." 
"We saw that Japan had won against Germany. It's a really tough group, we're going to have two difficult games."
"Everything came off for us from the very start of the game. We were well ahead at half-time and we spoke at half-time about goals being important."
"We're all trying to help the team. Everyone on the roster thinks they have a chance to play and gives their all whether they're starting or coming off the bench."
"It's normal that everyone is getting excited but we have to be cautious, it's only the first game. We know that Germany are Germany, Japan will be tough too."
Olmo: We played a fantastic game from the first whistle
Dani Olmo, who opened the scoring, was next up in front of the mic:
"We played a fantastic game from the first whistle. It was incredible, we're really happy."
"We wanted to control the game from the start and that's what we did. The heat affected them and we were able to create more."
"There's still a long way to go. We're really happy with the win but now we've got to think about Germany. We've got to prepare for it as if it were a cup final. If we win, we'll be close to getting through."
Lots more reaction coming up
Dani Olmo, Carlos Soler, poor Costa Rica winger Joel Campbell and Luis Enrique himself have all been speaking post-match. Here's what they all had to say. 
Alejandro Balde: We always have to be in contention to win
Debutant Alejandro Balde has been speaking to Spanish TV channel RTVE:
"I'm very happy with that result and to make my debut. It's the best way to begin the tournament."
"We knew how wanted to play. The manager explained his game plan and we did everything we could execute it, it paid off."
"Spain always has to be in contention to win these kinds of competitions. But we're taking it game by game."
"It's a dream for me to make my debut and play with world-class players. Luis Enrique congratulated me but hasn't said too much more."
82% posession, zero shots allowed
You just don't get much more dominant than that…
Soler whips the free-kick goalwards but it's cleared. 
Campbell booked for stamping on Balde's football and a free-kick in a very dangerous position for Spain…
A big chance for an eighth for Soler! But he shoots well wide from the edge of the box. 
There are still three minutes of additional time left to play. 
No celebration from Luis Enrique as Spain net their seventh. A show of solidarity for counterpart Suárez? 
Spain 7-0 Costa Rica: Álvaro Morata
This has gotten pretty ugly…
Williams is again involved although it's Olmo's pass which is the stand-out here, allowing Morata to sweep the ball past Navas first time form just inside the box. 
Spain 6-0 Costa Rica: Carlos Soler
Three goals in the first half, three in the second. 
I was just thinking that Williams hadn't had much of a chance to make an impact and he then he fires a dangerous ball into the box with Navas can only push out to Soler, who steers the ball into the net with the Costa Rica stopper still on the ground. 
A bit of a lull in the last few minutes but Spain are still not giving Costa Rica an inch. Gavi and Azpilicueta in particular are fighting for every ball. 
Final Costa Rica change
Matarrita on for Ovideo. 
Gavi the youngest World Cup scorer since Pelé!
Not since Pelé scored in the 1958 final has anyone younger than Gavi found the net in the World Cup. 
A delightful through-ball from Soler sends Morata clean through but he's narrowly offside and has his shot saved by Navas anyway. 
Some handbags there as Waston and Laporte tangle on the ground after challenging for a high ball. Gavi gets involved too, as he often does, but it fizzles out. No cards either. 
Spain 5-0 Costa Rica: Gavi
It all starts with a driving run infield from Balde, which isn't tracked. The young left-back slides it through for Morata, who's driven wide by Navas but picks out an excellent chipped pass to Gavi at the edge of the area. The midfielders doesn't have to break his stride and volleys in off the post with the outside of his foot. A fine finish. 
A rare touch for Unai Simon as Joel Campbell gets into the box…but that's offside anyway. Simón could probably skip his pre-match bath. 
Costa Rica change
Celso Borges does not look happy as he's replaced by Brandon Aguilera
You know you're 4-0 up and cruising when Aymeric Laporte dribblies out of defence and ends up being the furthest forward member of your team. He eventually loses it though, that wasn't quite Maradona in '86. 
Nico Williams is next on, replacing Marco Asensio for his fourth cap. 
A fairly dark yellow there as Calvo slides in on Soler. He wasn't a million miles from the ball but that was a hard one.
Alejandro Balde makes his debut for Spain
More changes for Spain as Alejandro Balde comes on for his debut, along with Koke
Alba and Busquets are next to get a rest. 
Morata is again played in down the right channel and this time has space to get a shot away but he rattles it well wide. 
Bryan Ruiz is on for his 145th (one hundred and forty-fifth) cap for Costa Rica. He's confirmed that he'll retire from playing at the end of 37 when the tournament finishes. A superb player for his country. 
Bennette is the man who goes off. 
A first chance for Morata to get involved as he's played in down the right channel. He doesn't quite have the same finesse as Ferran and can't get past Calvo but his ball across goal still almost causes a problem for Los Ticos. 
Morata had been a doubt for the game because of a niggle but now that he's on, Asensio will come over to the right wing more permanently, with Olmo staying on the left. 
First changes for Spain
Pedri and Ferran are first to get a break. Carlos Soler and Álvaro Morata are the replacements. 
Spain 4-0 Costa Rica: Ferran Torres
Starting where they left off…
Again, that's such vibrant attacking play. Ferran slips the ball into the channel for Gavi, whose pass sets the forward free in the box. Just when it looks as if he's going to be crowded out, Ferran gets the break of the ball and slides it under Keylor Navas. 
Not sure Calvo covered himself in glory there as Ferran breezed past him into the box. 
Almost a carbon copy cross there from Olmo, as he and Asensio link up brilliantly down the right.Olmo's cutback is cleared away from just a few yards out. 
Ferran fizzes a dangerous ball into the box from the right which is just ahead of Olmo, allowing Costa Rica to clear their lines. 
First chance of the half for Asensio! Azpilicueta drives forward unchallenged for 50 or 60 yards and lays it off for Asnesio, who fires over from the edge of the area. 
Half-time change for Costa Rica
Right-back Carlos Martínez has gone off, replaced by Kendall Waston. 
Back underway for the second half. How is this one going to end up?
Pedri: El presente y el futuro
(Even if you don't speak Spanish, I'm sure you understand). 
Last one of these, I promise. 
I posted before the game about how Luis Enrique was Spain's star man, rather than a player. If you had to pick a player though, you'd probably go for Pedri. Superb. 
Spain: possession with a cutting edge
How many of these kind of stats would you like? I've got loads. 
Spain domination
Just to give you a better idea of Spain's complete and utter domination
Half-time: Spain 3-0 Costa Rica
As close to perfection as you get from Spain! Luis Enrique will be absolutely delighted with that performance as his team have controlled possession superbly but have also had a cutting edge to go with it. The fluid front three of Olmo, Ferran and Asensio have constantly evaded the Costa Rica defence, with Pedri and Gavi in particularly getting forward in support of them at every opportunity. 
Costa Rica have barely had an opportunity to play any actual football, they've spent the vast majority of the half chasing after their opponents, who've suffocated them any time they've been in possession. 
Where does Luis Fernando Suárez go from here? Luis Enrique will want more of the same in the second half although he'll almost certainly have the luxury of resting players for the upcoming games if he wishes to do so. 
Pedri slips a ball through into the box for Asensio, who slices high and wide when you would've fancied him to score. Another great chance!
The referee gets in the way and gets a touch on the ball. He may have had more touches than…Unai Simón. He's in goal for Spain, right? Can't remember. 
For the first time, Gavi and Asensio not on the same wavelength in attack. A decent chance for a fourth there but Gavi gets his angles all wrong with the through ball. 
I genuinely have no idea where five minutes have come from…There have been no stoppages, substitutions or VAR checks. 
Five minutes of added time to be played. Five minutes is the new one minute. 
Gavi is next to try a ridiculous flick to get beyond the Costa Rica defence but his touch, lovely as it was, is a little heavy and Oviedo sweeps up. 
Olmo almost in again there, another one-two, this time with Asensio. Fuller did well to get across to intercept the pass.
It's one of those games where it looks as if there are 15 Spaniards against seven Costa Ricans. Luis Enrique's team have been relentless when out of possession too
Costa Rica have at least managed to keep Spain at arm's length for a few minutes. A bit of respite for the Ticos' defence. 
Another near thing from Spain as Olmo skips away down the left onto Alba's through-ball. Castro did well to close him out on that occasion. 
You would've thought Asensio would've scored more for his country, wouldn't you?
A chance for Costa Rica to put a dangerous ball into the box but Borges' delivery was poor and Campbell was offside anyway…
This has been the complete performance so far. Moving the ball around slickly and incisively, while suffocating the opposition on the rare occasion that they have possession. 
Spain 3-0 Costa Rica: Ferran Torres (pen)
The way this is going, the score could be anything
Ferran calmly sends Navas the wrong way. 
Penalty for Spain!
Alba brought down in the area…
Not just that but Jordi Alba has just pulled off a ridiculous nutmeg and then dragback, leaving Castro bamboozled. The Costa Rica defender might need to pay to get back in after that. 
Spain are currently knocking the ball around as Spain do. They look right on top of their game
Spain are wearing an all-red number rather than their usual red shirt, blue shorts and red socks. I actually think I might like it more. Although it could just be the novelty of it.  
This is really not looking good for Costa RicaSpain look in great nick. 
Spain 2-0 Costa Rica: Marco Asensio
Another brilliantly-worked goal!
That's superb from Spain. They drew Costa Rica over to one side of the field and switched it quickly to Alba, whose cross is fired beyond Navas first time by Asensio. Should Navas have done a tad better there? 
There have been a few signs of life from Costa Rica in the last few minutes. It looked as if Campbell was going to break into the box down the right but he was held up by Alba. 
100 World Cup goals for Spain
A 100th World Cup goal for Spain and a first for Dani Olmo. Brilliantly taken too. 
A first attack from Costa Rica is brought to a halt by Asensio, who takes Bennette down as he raced away down the left. 
This spells serious trouble for Costa Rica…their game plan is out the window. 
Spain 1-0 Costa Rica: Dani Olmo
That's been coming since kickoff!
A lovely piece of play too as Olmo plays a give and go with Pedri on the edge of the box, takes a superb touch and lifts the ball over the advancing Navas. Duarte might feel he should've cut Pedri's pass out though…
So close for Asensio! Pedri feeds a nice little pass through to the Real Madrid just inside the area and his placed shot goes narrowly wide of Navas' goal. 
A lot of fluidity in the Spanish attack so far. Ferran, Asensio and Olmo have moved around quite a bit and are proving difficult to pick up. 
Huge chance for Olmo! Pedri's delightful diagonal ball completely takes out the Costa Rica defence and Olmo steers it wide on the volley. Should've done better. 
We're just a few minutes in and Spain are already dominating possession. Costa Rica will be looking to frustrate for as long as possible. 
A dangerous run down the right from Ferran, well tracked. A corner for Spain though…is cleared. 
And we're off, folks. Strap yourselves in. 
Who is the referee for Spain vs Costa Rica in the World Cup 2022 group game?
We haven't yet mentioned the man in the middle! 
Emirati referee Mohammed Abdulla will be making sure the game runs smoothly. He has been a FIFA-recognised international referee since 2010 and, curiously, oversaw Costa Rica’s intercontinental play-off game against New Zealand back in June.
He will be accompanied by assistants Mohamed Al-Hammadi and Hasan Al- Mahri with Ning Ma appointed Fourth Official.
Costa Rican anthem: what are the lyrics and what is its origin and meaning?
An uptempo number for the Costa Ricans. They do have words. This is what they mean. 
World Cup 2022
Why does the Spanish anthem have no lyrics and what other countries only have music in their anthem?
The Spanish anthem up first. Remember to hum along. 
Spain vs Costa Rica: kickoff approaching!
The teams are in the tunnel and about to take centre stage. Just a few minutes until kickoff!
​​​​​​​Can either join Japan on three points in Group E?
Spain's poor opening game record in the World Cup
Spain haven't won their first game in the World Cup since 2006, when they defeated Ukraine 4-0.
Since then:
2010 – Spain 0-1 Switzerland
2014 – Spain 1-5 Netherlands
2018 – Spain 3-3 Portugal
It didn't work out too badly in 2010 but the less said about 2014 and 2018 the better. 
Costa Rica: form leading into Qatar 2022 World Cup
Like Spain, Costa Rica have also been in great form in the last year or so. Since losing to Canada in qualifying in mid-November 2021, they’ve played 13 times, winning 10, drawing two and losing just one, posting wins against Canada and the USA in that run.
'Stadium far from full'
15 minutes to go until kickoff and Paul tells me the stadium is far from full, not for the first time in the tournament. 
Block bookings from locals who aren't turning up is seemingly one of the reasons. 
More from Paul, who's made his way into Al-Thumama Stadium. 
That pitch looks like a bowling green, no excuses for España! 
Luis Enrique: Spain's star man
My girlfriend, who is Spanish and doesn’t really follow football much, asked me yesterday who Spain’s star player was. I told her that they didn’t really have one in the way that Argentina or France undoubtedly do. Could Spain be the only team at the tournament whose star is the coach?
Luis Enrique has been very clear about his ideas for the way he wants his team to play from day one. He’s a great listen in press conferences (and now on Twitch) by the way. He wants Spain to dictate play no matter who their opponent is, dominate possession and take risks on the ball. Although one criticism has often been that they struggle break down teams who sit deep and try to frustrate them, which is what we may well see today.
Spain: form leading into Qatar World Cup 2022
I’ve seen various ‘experts’ suggest that they wouldn’t be surprised if Spain reached the final or if they got knocked out in the group stages. After three pretty terrible tournaments (2014 World Cup, Euro 2016, 2018 World Cup), Luis Enrique has come in and worked his magic.
He’s often rubbed elements of the Spanish press up the wrong way but he genuinely couldn’t care less. Since the former Barcelona boss took charge, Spain have reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and the final of the 2020-2021 Nations League, while they’ll also play in the Final Four of the 2022-2023 Nations League. They come into the tournament having lost only one of their last 11 matches.
Marco Asensio, growth challenges and the loss of his mother
"The death of his mother has conditioned the life of the Real Madrid forward. Everything he has accomplished since he was 15 years old, he dedicates to her. Marco was a skinny and small kid, but he never gave up. Now he will have the opportunity to dedicate a World Cup to her."
Marco Asensio has had some tough times at Real Madrid in the last couple of seasons what with not seeing much game time. However, they pale in comparison to what he went through earlier in life, losing his mother at a young age.
Here's Asensio's story. He starts for Spain today as their 'false 9'.
My colleague Paul Reidy is outside Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha and has just sent me this picture with the caption:
'Al-Thumama – spectacular'
I probably don't have to add too much to that, do I? 
Not long to go before kick-off, but before that we'll have the anthems. Check out the low down on Spain's no-word Royal March and Costa Rica's gentle paean to their beautiful land. 
World Cup 2022
Why does the Spanish anthem have no lyrics and what other countries only have music in their anthem?
Costa Rican anthem: what are the lyrics and what is its origin and meaning?
Costa Rica starting XI: here we go!
They've made us wait but here it is!
Navas; Martínez, Fuller, Duarte, Calvo, Oviedo; Campbell, Borges, Tejeda, Benette; Contreras
​​​​​​​A 5-4-1 for Los Ticos. Pura Vida indeed. 
Qatar World Cup 2022: Costa Rica national team roster | Selected players and omissions
Still no sign of a Costa Rica line-up but let's have a little look at the 26 players head coach Luis Fernando Suárez has to choose from. 16 home-based players in there, plus World Cup veterans Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Bryan Oviedo and, of course, goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
This isn't going to be easy for Spain.
Germany shocked by Japan!
Huge, HUGE news in the other game in the group!
2014 winners Germany have lost 2-1 to Japan. That's thrown the cat right amongst the pigeons.
Read all about it here with Oli. 
Spain vs Costa Rica at Al-Thumama Stadium, Doha
Today's clash is the second of the tournament to be played at Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha (after Netherlands 2-0 win over Senegal). The 44,400-seater venue will host eight games in total, the last of which will be one of the quarter-finals
This is a pretty neat video, I must say. 
Costa Rica: Ready to rock the world
We're still waiting for the Costa Rica line-up to be confirmed but they are in the house! This will be Los Ticos sixth World Cup, with their first coming in 1990 in Italy.​​​​​​​
Spain and Costa Rica: how did they qualify?
Spain won their qualification group, finishing four points ahead of Sweden to qualify. However, everything came down to a last-matchday meeting between the two settled by a late Álvaro Morata goal, which sent the Spanish to Qatar and the Swedes to the playoffs (where they lost).
Costa Rica’s qualification was rather more complicated as they finished behind Canada, Mexico and the USA in CONCACAF qualifying and had to play an intercontinental playoff match against New Zealand in Qatar, which they won thanks to an early Joel Campbell strike.
Qatar World Cup 2022: Spain national team roster | Selected players and omissions
We've seen the Spain starting line-up but what options does Luis Enrique haveif he needs to make changes later on in the game? Here's the full 26-man roster, with all players fit and available for selection.
Remember that Alejandro Balde was a late call-up after fellow left-back José Gayà got injured in training. 
A glimpse inside a World Cup dressing room
Here's a little look inside the Spanish dressing room, the closest most of us will get to being in one during a World Cup sadly.
'Looking 'beautiful'. Was expecting the heart-shaped eyes emoji at the end of the text. 
Spain starting XI confirmed!
Luis Enrique has named his line-up for today's game!
Simón; Azpilicueta, Rodrigo, Laporte, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Ferran, Asensio, Olmo
​​​​​​​Midfielder Rodrigo/Rodri (whatever he prefers to call himself nowadays) playing in a back four is the main takeaway for me. Spain clearly expecting to have a lot of the ball. 
Spain vs Costa Rica: How to watch on TV and online, time, location | World Cup 2022
I’ll be bringing you build-up and then minute-by-minute coverage of Spain vs Costa Rica in Doha but if you’re looking for a way to watch (while staying with me, obviously…), we’ve got you covered right here. ​​​​​​​
2022 World Cup: fixtures, dates, times and group stage schedule
Before we get into Spain vs Costa Rica, by the way, be sure to check out AS USA’s World Cup special.
Every group, every team and every coach is profiled, we’ve picked a key player for each team and you’ve got the schedule for all of the group stages.
Oh, and it looks great too.
British sports analytics company have given Spain an 8.65% chance of winning the World Cup and Costa Rica basically no chance (0.02%) of lifting the trophy. Today’s game should be a formality then, right?
Wrong! Didn’t you watch Saudi Arabia beat Argentina yesterday? Did you miss Senegal shocking France in the opening game of the 2002 tournament (I know, some of you were probably not born…)? What about Cameroon stunning Argentina in 1990 (a lot of you definitely weren’t born)?
This is what the World Cup is all about!
Spain vs Costa Rica: Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E
Hello and thanks for joining me (Roddy) for live coverage of the 2022 World Cup Group E clash between Spain and Costa Rica at the Al Thumana Stadium in Doha. Can Spain show us that they’re genuine contenders to lift the trophy? Can Costa Rica cause an upset?
The game kicks off at 7pm local time Qatar, that’s 11pm ET / 8am ET. 90 minutes to go!
Spain vs Costa Rica: Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Spain and Costa Rica get their Qatar World Cup 2022 campaigns underway in Group E at 11am ET / 8am PT. 
– Can 2010 winners Spain prove they are contenders to lift the trophy once again? 
– Can Costa Rica cause an upset and set themselves on the way to qualifying for the knockout stages for the third time in six World Cups?
Related stories:
Spain vs Costa Rica: How to watch on TV and online, time, location | World Cup 2022
Qatar World Cup 2022: Spain national team roster | Selected players and omissions
Qatar World Cup 2022: Costa Rica national team roster | Selected players and omissions
Who is the referee for Spain vs Costa Rica in the World Cup 2022 group game?
Marco Asensio, growth challenges and the loss of his mother
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