The Spanish women's side have come into this tournament amid rumour and scandal, notably many players refusing to play just weeks before the World Cup was set to start. Despite all of this however, La Roja come into the competition as third favourites.
Spain vs Costa Rica Betting Tips
- Over 3.5 Spain goals and Esther Gonzalez to score at least two goals @19/10 with BetUK
- Esther Gonzalez first goalscorer @29/10 with BetUK
- Salma Paralluelo to score at any time and register an assist @7/2 with BetUK
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'Strong and united' Spain seek positive start
Esther Gonzalez declared the Spanish team were "strong and united" on the eve of their 2023 Women's World Cup debut against Group C rivals Costa Rica.
The Real Madrid striker was eager to project a positive image less than a year after the Spanish FA had released a statement claiming 15 players had threatened to quit the team if coach Jorge Vilda was not fired.
Reports last autumn suggested a number of Vilda's squad were unhappy with the management of injuries, the atmosphere in the locker room, team selection and training sessions.
Looking from the outside, the situation appears to have improved as several stars have been welcomed back into the fold by Vilda while recent results and performances have been good.
Spain, the sixth-ranked team in the world, carry a six-game winning streak into the tournament that includes five clean sheets and notable friendly wins over Norway and China.
Costa Rica have won only one of their four preparatory games, against Haiti, and were thrashed 4-0 by Scotland in April — almost a year to the day that Spain had beaten the same team 2-0 at Hampden Park.
A four-goal margin of victory ought to be a realistic goal for La Roja given their firepower, while their ability to retain possession for long periods could mean Costa Rica's forwards are feeding off tiny scraps.
Spain vs Costa Rica Tip 1: Over 3.5 goals, Over 3.5 Spain goals and Esther Gonzalez to score at least two goals @19/10 with BetUK Bet Builder
Greedy Gonzalez can open the scoring
Vilda has been rotating his group in the warm-up games but looks set to start with Gonzalez up front.
The 30-year-old forward scores at a rate of one in two for her club and can boast an even better goal ratio for her country, having notched 27 times in 38 internationals.
She has scored the opening goal in two of her last three starts for La Roja and again displayed her predatory instincts when tapping in from close range a matter of minutes after appearing as a substitute in last week's 9-0 friendly win over Vietnam.
Spain vs Costa Rica Tip 2: Esther Gonzalez first goalscorer @29/10 with BetUK
Paralluelo in line to play a big part
The main question mark over Vilda's line-up will be whether he elects to play back-to-back Ballon d'Or Feminin Alexia Putellas from the start after her recent injury troubles.
The Barcelona ace spent most of last season recovering from the ACL knee injury she sustained on the eve of the Euro 2022 Finals and her involvement in this tournament may need to be carefully managed.
Salma Paralluelo could easily step into the breach and fill the creative void if Putellas is rested against Costa Rica, although the winger should start anyway.
The Barcelona star has been thriving on the right-hand flank for Spain, using her blistering pace and devastating left foot to provide a cutting edge.
Paralluelo scored twice in the demolition of Vietnam and also hit the woodwork in a display that suggests scoring a goal and registering an assist aren’t beyond her powers for this opening Group C clash.
Spain vs Costa Rica Tip 3: Salma Paralluelo to score and give an assist @7/2 with BetUK