The quarter-final match between Netherlands and Costa Rica on Saturday may look like the most one-sided last-eight fixture on paper, but as we've seen so often during this 2014 World Cup, the Central Americans shouldn't be taken lightly.
Costa Rica have only conceded twice during the tournament so far, and they saw off the challenge from Greece in the previous round despite being down a man for all of extra time.
The Dutch were on the brink of elimination against Mexico but found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and they'll need a better performance this time around to overcome a Costa Rican side that has already shown they play their best football against top competition.
Date: Saturday, July 5
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Both teams came very close to losing during the round of 16, with Costa Rica needing penalties to see off Greece and two late goals saving the Dutch from having to return to Europe prematurely.
They weren't the only teams to struggle during the first phase of the knockout stages, as parity seemingly reigns during this particular World Cup. Both teams looked very solid during the group stages, combining excellent organisation on the defensive end with ruthless efficiency in front of goal.
The Netherlands will be without star midfielder Nigel de Jong, who had to leave the pitch with an injury against El Tri. The AC Milan man took to Twitter to tell the world he was staying with the group but wouldn't be playing against Costa Rica:
Devastated with the news about my injury. Sadly enough this is part of the sport as well. Will work hard on my recovery now and keep hope 👊— Nigel de Jong (@NDJ_Official) July 1, 2014
Playing or not playing ,injured or not injured ,I will stick with the group cos we all came here with a mission and we will continue 2 do so— Nigel de Jong (@NDJ_Official) July 1, 2014
The Dutch may be without their top midfield enforcer, but Costa Rica will have to make some changes as well. Oscar Duarte received a red card against Greece, and he will be suspended going into this tie.
Via Bleacher Report's Eduardo Mendez, this leaves Costa Rica with a big gap in the heart of their defence:
Duarte suspended. Miller injured. Acosta incompetent. We literally don't have a third CB. Some serious decisions to be made. #CRC— Eduardo Mendez (@Mendez_FC) June 30, 2014
Johnny Acosta is Duarte's most likely replacement, though he doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the fans. Going up against the likes of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, his ability to step in and perform will be vital.
Netherlands have struggled the most during this World Cup when opposing teams have forced them to take the ball and make the play themselves, and luckily for them, it doesn't look like Costa Rica are planning on doing so.
Via the Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson, Luis Pinto sounded as if he planned on taking the game to the Dutch when he spoke to reporters ahead of the match:
CR manager Pinto: "The next match is the Netherlands. We'll face them with respect, but also a desire to win."— Kurtis Larson (@KurtLarSUN) June 29, 2014
Keylor Navas has been in sensational form during this World Cup, but against a team as adept at scoring as the Dutch, you can't expect your defence to just sit back and hold the fort for 90 minutes. Pinto's decision to stick to his strengths is the right one, but it will also help Netherlands.
Speed out wide and efficiency in front of goal are key components of Louis van Gaal's team, and it was clear in the ties against Mexico and Australia that the Dutch don't like to press forward against a defence that sits back and lets the play come to them.
Without De Jong, there will be space in the centre of the pitch for Costa Rica to exploit, but without Duarte, the Netherlands will find it easier to play the counter against Acosta, who isn't particularly fast and has little experience playing at this level.
One key storyline could be the impact of striker Van Persie, who looked excellent during the group stages but struggled mightily against Mexico. Per ESPN FC, that is exactly in line with his history at the World Cup:
Robin van Persie has scored 5 goals in 8 career World Cup group stage matches. He's scoreless in 5 knockout matches. #NED— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 29, 2014
If the Dutch finally want to lift their very first World Cup trophy, they'll need their ace striker to step up when called upon.
Prediction: Netherlands 2-1 Costa Rica