Oh, Costa Rica! Los Ticos are the last bastion of hope for fans of the underdogs (Sorry, Netherlands. You just aren’t in that discussion). They’ll face a mighty test in the Dutch.
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal and his team will be wary of CONCACAF foes after nearly failing to beat Mexico in the Round of 16. Meanwhile, Costa Rican boss Jorge Luis Pinto is wary of Arjen Robben’s Olympic pool tricks.
The only present-day CONCACAF team to finish in the Top Four of a World Cup is the United States in 1930.
The Dutch, however, have made four semifinal appearances since 1974 alone. They’ve yet to win a World Cup, losing all three title matches.
Netherlands: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind, Van Persie (c), Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, Wijnaldum, Depay
Costa Rica: Navas, Acosta, Gonzalez, Umana, Borges, Bolanos, Campbell, Ruiz (c), Diaz, Gamboa, Tejeda
Can Costa Rica really do this?
Holding down Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and others seems like a tall task for Los Ticos, but they’ve already taken care of Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Daniel Sturridge. In fact, the only players to put one in the CR net this tournament in regulation are Edinson Cavani (PK) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Whoever joins that group will be in pretty good company.
Netherlands closes off a final four of traditional powers by joining Brazil, Germany and Argentina in the semifinals. Costa Rica’s stout defending will have trouble holding down Robben and company.
One blogger’s prediction
Since its soccer’s biggest stage and more American eyes than ever before are interested in the game, here’s betting Robben puts another convincing — perhaps pivotal — dive into the match. This will be much closer than most expect. Give the Dutch a 2-1 win.