Saturday’s showing against Costa Rica was another classy performance by the Feyenoord defender, and at the tender age of 22, has the potential to become one of the best of his generation.

  • By Adrian Bucher
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To the casual football fan, it may have come as little surprise that the Netherlands were able to overcome Costa Rica in Saturday’s final quarter-final fixture. However, for those that have been keenly following the World Cup thus far, the Costa Ricans had upset many by progressing out of a difficult group, thanks to their ability to absorb opposition offense. Though the Dutch did require a penalty shoot-out to eventually get past Jorge Luis Pinto’s men, several players did put in a fine showing, such as Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder (whose goal against Mexico seems to have given him a timely confidence boost) and Ron Vlaar. However, it is one of Vlaar’s partners in defense that particularly impressed – Stefan de Vrij.

Over the course of the 120 minutes of action, the young defender made the most tackles (5), clearances (14) and interceptions (4) out of any of his team-mates, whilst also making an incredible 119 touches throughout the game – 11 touches more than any Dutch player that night, and 58 more than any of the opposition players. While not boasting the highest passing accuracy, de Vrij did attempt 88 passes, more than any other player, and more than double of any Costa Ricans. Not bad for a central defender.

After getting his name on the score sheet against Spain in the Oranje’s opening match, Louis van Gaal’s defenders experienced a forgettable match against Australia, before putting in a strong showing against Chile in their final group game. Though the tournament is just over three-weeks-old, it seems as though de Vrij has improved greatly over the course of just five games.

While it is true that some of the defensive decisions of de Vrij is, at times, lacking, particularly when compared to his team-mates, such as Ron Vlaar and Daley Blind, the man from South Holland still has time on his side to improve on this, and add to an already very promising set of skills.

de Vrij and co. now face an Argentina side boasting some of the games biggest attacking threats. With a front-line consisting of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi, the Dutch defenders will need to be at their best if the Dutch are to march on to their fourth final. However, whatever the result of the match, this World Cup has shown that the future is indeed bright for the Netherlands.

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)