As World Cup victor, the Sele is a looooong shot

So you’re saying there’s a chance? Well, don’t hold your breath for Costa Rica’s national team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

According to Bovada sportsbook, La Sele enters with 1,000-to-1 odds of taking the Jules Rimet Trophy. Only Honduras and Iran are bigger underdogs in the field of 32.  Hampered by injuries to two key players, Everton left back Bryan Oviedo and Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio, Costa Rica limps into a difficult Group D.

Costa Rica opens with mighty Uruguay Saturday, then resumes the daunting group schedule by playing historical powerhouses Italy and England. Those three countries have combined to win seven World Cup titles. Group D could easily be considered as this year’s grupo de la muerte, or “the group of death.”

However, fans of the United States may have a valid argument when claiming that their side is entering into the tournament’s hardest group. The U.S. shares a field with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana in Group G. Talented Germany is a heavy favorite to advance, while Portugal trots out one of the sport’s best players in Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ghana was the squad that eliminated the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup’s second round.

Those two sides square off again Monday, as the U.S. looks for revenge in its opener. The Stars and Stripes are now led by coach Jürgen Klinsmann, a former manager for Germany’s national team, who made a controversial decision last month in leaving the team’s all-time scoring leader Landon Donovan off the tournament roster.

Klinsmann now turns to star players Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley to carry the U.S. past the group stage for the second straight time. Last September in World Cup qualifying rounds, the U.S. had a 12-game winning streak snapped by none other than Costa Rica at Estadio Nacional. Those two join Mexico and Honduras as the four Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean American Football (CONCACAF) qualifiers in Brazil.

Action between the field of 32 begins Thursday when host Brazil meets Croatia.

The favorite: Brazil. At 3-to-1 odds, it seems the host nation is the safe bet to win a sixth World Cup championship. Home-field advantage coupled with the stardom of young striker groiupd061114Neymar may give Brazil a leg up on fellow title contenders Argentina, Germany, and Spain. Also, no European team has ever won a cup in the Americas.

Player to watch: Lionel Messi. Arguably the world’s greatest player, Messi has long endured
scrutiny from his native country of Argentina for
having never achieved much success at the international level. Though his list of accolades at the club level for Barcelona reads deep, the forward they call La Pulga, or the “flea,” now looks to cement himself as one of soccer’s greatest players with a successful World Cup run.

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