It’s quarter-final time and if the quality continues to increase then we are all in for a treat. Every match in the first knockout round was close with five of the eight matches going to extra-time, which is a new record for the competition, showing that the teams aren’t separated by much, as favourites Germany, Brazil and Argentina were all taken past 90 minutes. It is also the first time in history that all eight of the group winners have made it to the quarter-finals.
Netherlands have been, arguably, the most impressive side in this tournament as Louis Van Gaal aims to add the World Cup to his CV before taking the job at Old Trafford. They struggled to overcome a very accomplished Mexico side in the round of 16 match as two late goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar saw them come from behind. The impact of Huntelaar showed the strength in the Dutch squad as the striker showed composure from the spot, despite seeing little action in the group stages. There was a little bit of controversy as Arjen Robben admitted he dived to win the spot kick, but that will be forgotten about if the Dutch go on and win the tournament.
Without doubt, Costa Rica have been the surprise of the tournament as they have managed to get to the quarter finals, despite being seen as the whipping boys in Group D before the action kicked off. They managed to overcome a resolute Greece side via a penalty shoot out after Oscar Duarte was sent off. They were dominated by the Greeks, but their determination saw them grind out the result. The star man was the goalkeeper Keylor Navas who saved seven of the eight shots he faced during the match as well as a penalty. On the other hand, the Greek goalkeeper failed to make a save.
- Klaas Jan Huntelaar missed his last three spot kicks in the Bundesliga for Schalke, but he did the business for his country at a crucial time.
- This is the first time in their history that Costa Rica have made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, highlighting how well they have performed in this tournament.
He is already one of the best players in the world and this tournament could be the one that secures his legacy, especially if his side come away with the World Cup for the first time in their history. His unbelievable pace has been utilised effectively as he has caused problems for all four sides that Holland have come up against. The Bayern Munich player has yet to eclipse his performance against Spain, but his intelligence was the difference in the match against Mexico as he managed to win the penalty that saw the Dutch progress. He has three goals and one assist so far in the World Cup and he is likely to add to that against Costa Rica, who have shown they can be broken down at the back. The Dutch winger certainly has the quality to be the difference on Saturday.
The Arsenal forward has yet to play in the Premier League, but that is likely to change next season as he has impressed in Brazil. He netted eight times in the league for Olympiakos last season, and added another against Manchester United in the Champions League. So far in Brazil, he has scored one and assisted one, but his overall play has been very good. His pace and trickery will cause problems for any side, while his positioning in the final third allows him to threaten the opposition. Holland have been far from convincing at the back and Costa Rica will hope that Campbell can find a way through this weekend.
Leroy Fer will be missing again, but could return for the semi-final, if Holland progress on Saturday, while Nigel de Jong will be missing for the rest of the tournament. Bruno Martins Indi could return to the starting eleven after coming on as a substitute against Mexico.
Roy Miller is set to miss out after injuring his hamstring against Greece, while Duarte will be missing through suspension. The team could still be suffering after playing 120 minutes against Greece, part of which was with ten men.
It’s going to be another close game for the Netherlands, who will go into the match with all of the expectation and pressure on them. Costa Rica will enjoy keeping their underdogs status which has carried them so well during the tournament. The hard working nature of the Costa Ricans will keep the Netherlands’ chances in the final third to a minimum but the quality of Robben and Robin van Persie will mean that the Dutch get chances. I think they will come out on top, but it could come after 90 minutes.