World Cup quarter-final preview: Netherlands v Costa Rica
Costa Rica have already seen off top FIFA-ranked opponents Uruguay (seventh), Italy (ninth) and Greece (12th), as well as drawing with England (tenth). So, surely facing the Netherlands (15th), who are 9/2 chances to win the World Cup, is easy for them in comparison?
Coral price this match between Clockwork Orange and the Central Americans as the most one-sided of all the quarter-finals this World Cup, though, with the former odds-on both to win in 90 minutes at 8/15, and 2/9 to qualify.
While Costa Rica have conceded the joint-fewest amount of goals at these finals with two, along with France, Colombia and Belgium, largely thanks to their stopper Keylor Navas, the Netherlands top the scoring charts with an impressive 12.
You can back Costa Rica to keep a clean sheet in 90 minutes again, as they did against Italy and England, at 19/4. The Netherlands, though, are more likely at 11/4 to keep up their goal average and score three or more times.
Louis van Gaal’s side have only managed to keep a clean sheet once this World Cup, while Costa Rica have netted in all but one, so take odds of 5/4 for both teams to be on target in normal time.
These two sides have never met before, but the Netherlands have so far won all four of their games in Brazil this summer, against Spain, Australia, Chile and Mexico in 90 minutes.
Clockwork Orange strolled through Group B with relative ease, largely thanks to Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, who chipped in with three goals apiece. They are both odds-on at 8/13 and 4/5 respectively to score again in normal time, and 5/2 and 7/2 to get two or more.
The dynamic Dutch duo were not on target in their country’s last two encounters, though, including in the last 16 against Mexico, where they came within minutes of crashing out. Manchester United fans would have been very pleased looking on to see that their new manager Van Gaal sides can produce magic right at the death as well.
Goals from Wesley Sneijder, in the 88th minute, and a stoppage time penalty from substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar saw off a spirited Miguel Herrera-led Aztecs. The Galatasaray midfielder is 15/8 to score again in 90 minutes, while the Schalke striker is 4/1 to net last.
On the upcoming game, Sneijder said: “[Costa Rica] will have more fans than we have, and [against Mexico] we could see the same but I think it’s something nice as well you know. Better than nobody; it’s good.”
Jorge Luis Pinto’s men, on the other hand, have managed five goals this tournament so far, with out-of-favour Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz getting two. He is 4/1 to get a goal again anytime. His teammate Arsenal-owned Joel Campbell, who scored against Uruguay, is 10/3 to net.
Ruiz also spoke ahead of the match. “Saturday’s game (July 6th) is like a final for us, but we don’t want to stop there,” he said. “Holland is a great team, but I have to be honest and say that we have a good chance of beating them. But we have to take care of a lot of details if we want to win.”
The tiny nation, who have a population of just over 4.5m people, had to come through a tough test with Greece on penalties, but luckily had hero goalkeeper Navas in top form on the night. Clugge Bruges defender Oscar Duarte was sent off for Costa Rica that day, thus missing the game with the Netherlands, and Coral offer odds of 11/4 for any player to see red in 90 minutes.
In terms of injuries, Van Gaal will be without midfield destroyer Nigel de Jong, who will misses the rest of the tournament, while Costa Rica are sweating on the fitness of left back Roy Miller.
The winner of this game will play one of Argentina or Belgium in the semi-final.