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Under no pressure, says Ruiz

Fortaleza: For Costa Rica, presence of Bryan Ruiz, considered as a slender and active predator, is something that should help them think positive going into the campaign opener versus Uruguay.

Aside from being Costa Rica’s best player, a truly creative and unpredictable force that he is, Ruiz — known as ‘The Weasel’ — is earnest. It comes through in the way he carries himself and the way he talks.

Thin and wiry, he’s both fragile and sturdy. He is the leader of a small team set to take on some of the world’s biggest stars; the likes of Wayne Rooney, Andrea Pirlo and so on. But Ruiz remains defiant.

“Everyone is talking about the other teams in the group,” he told the Fifa website. “They’re looking at us as if we’re lucky to be here, like we’re here to be beaten.

“That’s fine. This takes the pressure off. It’s good for us. They can have all the pressure… We’re under no pressure…”

Under coach Pinto, Costa Rica have become what Ruiz calls “a modern team.” There’s a balance between defence and attack rarely seen in previous Costa Rican sides that were traditionally slow moving and hyper-technical.

“We play with five men at the back, but we’re not defensive,” said Ruiz, who is likely to play as a second striker behind young No.9 Joel Campbell.

“We don’t sit back; we break forward. This is a new Costa Rica,” he said, dreaming of the possibility of a shock result against Uruguay, or the impenetrable fantasy of bettering the Italians or English.

“Look out, because we can surprise a lot of people.”