Netherlands aim to book a place in the World Cup semi-finals when they come up against Costa Rica on Saturday evening.

  • By Michael Bell
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kuyt nedmeLouis van Gaals side are the only nation in the competition still to have a 100% winning record in 90 minutes after two late goals saw them beat Mexico 2-1 in the previous round. However the Dutch were second best for most of that game, and will need to improve to book a semi-final spot.

Costa Rica may well be the lowest ranked nation left in the World Cup, but they have shown great determination to make it this far after coming through a penalty shoot-out with Greece in the last round despite playing with ten men for the whole of extra time.

Netherlands have been dealt a blow leading up to the game with Nigel de Jong being ruled out for the rest of the tournament with injury, while Leroy Fer will also miss the game.  It is likely that Louis van Gaal will stick with his 5-3-2 formation with Dirk Kuyt deployed at left back, while PSV winger Memphis Depay is rumoured to be starting at left back. Daley Blind will move into midfield to replace De Jong.

The use of both Dirk Kuyt and Memphis Depay at wing back will allow coach Louis van Gaal to easily change his formation from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 in an instant. This may be crucial should Netherlands go behind in the game.

Possible Netherlands line-up: 5-3-2 Cillessen, Kuyt, Depay, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto has defensive worries ahead of the game with Oscar Duarte banned after being sent off against Greece, while Roy Miller is out with a foot injury. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas should be fit despite missing training with a shoulder injury.

Bryan Ruiz will be a familiar name to fans of Dutch football with the Costa Rica captain enjoying spells with both FC Twente, and PSV in his career.

Possible Costa Rica line-up: 5-4-1 Navas, Diaz, Gamboa, Umana, Gonzalez, Acosta, Tejeda, Borges, Ruiz, Bolanos, Campbell

Previous meetings:

None, the two nations have never played each other before

Key Battles:

Robin van Persie v Keylor Navas

Costa Rican keeper Navas has been their star performer so far in the tournament with the Levante stopper making a number of spectacular saves throughout the tournament. His form has seen the nation only concede twice so far, and it will be up to Van Persie to find a way past him if Netherlands are to be triumphant. The Manchester United striker has three goals in three matches so far, and will look to add to that tally on Saturday night.

Christian Gamboa v Memphis Depay

With Louis van Gaal set to start with winger Depay at left wing back the Dutch will be more fluid going forward, but it may allow Gamboa space in behind. The Costa Rican right back loves to get forward, and if Depay does not track back into his defensive position it may leave the Dutch defence exposed. However every Dutch fan will be excited to see Depay from the start, and he could be crucial in a Netherlands win.

Joel Campbell v Stefan de Vrij

Campbell has been excellent so far in the tournament, and although he has only netted one goal in the tournament so far, he will be a handful for the Dutch defence. Usually left up front on his own, Campbell will look to run at the defence with pace, and it will be up to De Vrij, Vlaar and Martins Indi to stop him.

Conclusion:

Netherlands could not have asked for an easier quarter final draw, but underestimating a Costa Rica side that beat both Uruguay and Italy may prove fatal. If Arjen Robben, and Robin van Persie are on form though Netherlands should have too much quality for the CONCACAF nation. A tie against either Belgium or Argentina in the semi-final awaits the winners of this game, and lets hope its Netherlands who make it to the final week of the World Cup,

Hup Holland Hup




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