What a tournament these two teams have had, Holland top their group and mount a stunning comeback against Mexico when they looked down and out. And where do we start with Costa Rica, 66/1 pre-tournament to top a group containing three previous world cup winners nobody expected them to be even giving their opponents a game let alone beating 2 of them!, then an exhausting effort against a tough Greece side has place them in the quarter final for the first time.
These two will face off on July 5 for a place in the semi-finals, against either Argentina or Belgium.
For Holland they will see this as a golden opportunity to try and emulate their last tournament finish as neither Argentina nor Belgium look like world beaters at the moment.
Costa Rica are living for the moment, the thought of them being one game away from the semi's is a mind boggling thought for most football fans though, no disrespect as they have been superb throughout the tournament of course. But even the realists can't form much of an argument that they will progress further.
What has stood out the most is both teams resilience in the face of difficult opponents, Australia and Mexico made life hard for Holland and Costa Rica beat Italy and Uruguay and drew with England which in itself was a feat but they only conceded 1 goal in the group stage and that was a penalty to Edinson Cavani which says a lot for their defensive abilities.
The Dutch do though have the attacking abilities of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and the mercurial Arjen Robben to call upon. Robben in particular seems to have taken up a frightening leap in form, considering he had a very good season at Bayern this year its quite some feat to improve upon that.
Van Persie seems to have kept up his form that he showed for his first year at Manchester United which can only be a sign of betters things to come for United fans as Van Gaal seems to get the best out of him. Aside from these obvious stars he has the upcoming Depay making a name for himself, and can always rely on Klaas-jan Huntelaar to snatch a goal in the crucial moment.
On the other hand Costa Rica have relied on a team that has blended well at this level and a fantastic team ethic that seems to have swept through all the supposed underdogs at this tournament, they have ran at teams and harassed and chased opponents into submission, with a smattering of talent that had not yet been announced to the world, in fact many play in their native league and a few others are spread around Europe's lower leagues and the MLS.
This in particularly highlighted by some of their more high profile players, I.e Bryan Ruiz of Fulham who was booed off at the end of last season following their relegation from the premier league has been a man reborn at this world cup and Fulham fans will be wondering where it all went wrong.
Bolanos, Borges and Gamboa all ply their trade in Scandinavia have all impressed which leaves the golden boy of Costa Rican football and heir apparent to Paulo Wanchope, who has been loaned out to various clubs around the continent by Arsenal due to his ineligibility to play in the premier league yet.
However now he is able to return to his parent club it is still not clear whether Arsene Wenger will even keep him there, judging on his performances so far it would be a dreadful miscalculation on his part and the young forward should at least commend a position in their squad for the league campaign, attributes like his direct running and pace which have often been found wanting.
Whoever does go onto the semi-final will have a difficult game on their hands, with Argentina being dragged by Messi single-handedly, or Belgiums's strong defensive unit and in depth squad, both do have frailties as many teams have shown these past few weeks.
On the overall scope, I would consider Holland favourites for good reason as they are obviously the stronger of the two sides on paper and judging by the way they have played thus far 12 goals and four conceded is an impressive tally, Costa Rica wont go down without a fight you can bet your bottom dollar. Albeit they do have limitations and will be exposed by the free flowing Dutch juggernaut.
Verdict: Holland to win and to score in both halves, Costa Rica to grab one as a farewell gift.
Score Prediction: 3-1
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