Game on: Lineups and more as Costa Rica looks to topple another giant

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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.

[ MORE: Costa Rica trumps Greece in PKs | Holland shows up late to beat El Tri ]

[ Follow live on Soccerly’s Matchcenter ]

Lineups

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

Talking points

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.

Expectation
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.

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter
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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz
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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.