Netherlands and Costa Rica will clash in the last of the four quarter-final fixtures of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil at the Mangabeira stadium in Salvador De Bahia on Saturday, July 5.
The Dutch qualified for the last-eight after coming back from a goal down against Mexico as they beat them 2-1. Wesley Sneijder equalized from inside the area after a corner routine involving Arjen Robben and substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar while the latter converted from the spot in injury time after Rafael Marquez brought down Robben in the box.
Costa Rica needed penalties to overcome Greece as the match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes of battle. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas came up with the saves as the Ticos defeated the Greeks 5-3 on penalties. Earlier on, skipper Brian Ruiz opened the scoring for Costa Rica before the Euro 2004 champions equalized in injury time.
Netherlands, who are ranked 15th in the Coca-Cola FIFA world rankings, will be going into the match in a confident mood as they overcame a tough challenge in the round of 16 to come through. The Dutch had been minutes away from being eliminated. However, the genius of Louis Van Gaal combined with the will and the skills of the players helped the Oranje overcome a tough challenge.
Credit has to be given to the coach who manipulated his lineup in brilliant fashion as Nigel De Jong hobbled off minutes into the game. Van Gaal put Daley Blind in midfield and sent Bruno Martins Indi on the left side of the defence. Daryl Janmaat stepped into a central defensive role beside Stefan De Vrij and Ron Vlaar while Dirk Kuyt played exceptionally well at right back.
Van Gaal also had the courage and the gumption to hook his captain Robin van Persie off in the second half as he introduced Huntelaar into the match. What followed the move showed just how tactically astute and brilliant the former Ajax manager could be.
Netherlands will look to shape up like they were in the last game with De Jong set to miss the rest of the tournament with a hamstring issue. van Persie will need to hit some form against Costa Rica though as he looks to combine with Robben to deadly effect against the Ticos.
28th-ranked Costa Rica are the lowest-ranked team in the quarterfinals of the World Cup this year and have clearly been the surprise package of the tournament. From a neutral’s point of view, it is safe to say that this team has probably played some of the most entertaining football in the tournament as well.
After having defeated the likes of Uruguay and Italy in Group D before drawing against England, the Costa Ricans beat the Greeks in a penalty shoot-out. Hence, confidence will not be in short supply for this team, who have some great attackers in the form of Ruiz and Arsenal striker Joel Campbell.
The defence is an able one although there are no fancy names there. Jorge Luis Pinto’s side have been quite astute at the back while they do not hold back in attack as well.
In modern football, especially in the big competitions, there is a tendency for teams to play it safe which takes the sting out of the games. Costa Rica have been an exception with their all out game and it has been a joy to watch them strut their stuff in Brazil so far.
Against a team like Netherlands, they face a big challenge, but it is not one that they cannot overcome should they try their best. The bookies are expecting goals but these knockout games are usually tight and I like the look of the odds of a narrow victory for either side.
Netherlands to win 1-0: 5/1 (Boylesports)
Costa Rica to win 1-0: 18/1 (Coral)