World Cup previews: Costa Rica v Serbia

Here’s what the Football Manager 2018 data has to say about the likely line-ups for this match. The explanation for this is here but in a nutshell I’ve treated the Football Manager database like a scouting tool and compared the two teams across a range of measures by combining their in-game attributes.


Here’s how the two teams stack up in terms of overall ability according to Football Manager’s researchers, i.e. the game’s hidden ‘current ability’ stat:

Serbia look to have the edge here, with Costa Rica’s best player being their goalkeeper and only two of their midfielders apparently able to hold a candle to their opponents’ front six.


Here I’ve combined (and weighted) the in-game attributes for pace and acceleration and mixed in fitness and agility for good measure:

For Costa Rica it looks as though the full backs will be doing some of the running on behalf of the less mobile wingers ahead of them, while the centre forward Urena stands the best chance of darting into space. Tosic aside, the Serbian team looks reasonably capable of keeping up with their opponents.


Here I’ve mixed together the passing and crossing attributes with a bit of technique thrown in, to see which players should be the most comfortable – and productive – in possession:

Based on this I’d expect both sides to be creating a lot of chances from the flanks, with Ruiz, Tadic and Ljajic the best distributors on the pitch. Serbia can also rely on Kolarov to whip some balls in, while Borges and Venegas are Costa Rica’s other key outlets.


Here’s how the two teams measure up physically i.e. how able the players are to impose themselves on their opponents at close quarters:

Serbia have a clear advantage here, with Mitrovic and the midfielders behind him looking capable of bullying themselves into some space against a relatively unimposing opponent. As the toughest members of the Costa Rican defence, Duarte and Gonzalez will surely find themselves in a few physical battles at set pieces.