The FIFA World Cup 2014 has moved into the quarter-final stage, pitting the eight best teams in the tournament against one another as the ultimate prize—world domination—looms ever closer.
Here we take a look at the last tie on offer: Netherlands vs. Costa Rica.
Louis van Gaal could make substantial changes to the side that limped over the line against Mexico—some injury-enforced, some not.
Nigel De Jong will miss the rest of the tournament with a groin injury, per The Guardian, while Paul Verhaegh and Dirk Kuyt are candidates to drop out of the XI.
Bruno Martins Indi will likely be restored to the defensive line, pushing Daley Blind to left-wing-back and seeing Daryl Janmaat back in at right-wing-back.
We're expecting a continuation of the 3-5-2 formation, no matter how many call for a return to the 4-3-3, though LVG has shown he's happy to make half-time adjustments if the game isn't going his way.
Costa Rica have just one consideration ahead of this quarter-final: Who replaces Oscar Duarte in defence following his red card?
Johnny Acosta was expected to start the tournament as the right-centre-back so he's an option to replace Duarte, though it was Roy Miller who got the start against England after qualification from Group D had been confirmed.
Jorge Luis Pinto will be gearing his side up for another mammoth effort after completing 120 gruelling minutes against Greece in the round of 16.
They'll soak up pressure in their five-man defensive set, fire the ball quickly to Joel Campbell and see what he can muster for a fifth game running.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. Where's the Space?
A three-man defensive line will meet its mirror image in this battle, but the midfields are organised rather differently, and that could pave the way for an interesting turn of events.
Costa Rica's 4-5-1 is built to feed the ball between the lines as fast as possible, moving from defence to Celso Borges to Joel Campbell inside five seconds. The Dutch will try and obstruct Borges and Yeltsin Tejeda's path forward, but do they have enough men to deal with the Ticos' narrow wingers?
He tucks in from the left and joins in, while Bryan Ruiz does the same from the other side. If Costa Rica play the percentages right, they could have two men over and a free path through to Campbell.
2. Spring the Trap
We keep referencing it, but it never happens: The day Costa Rica's high defensive line is punished is the day they exit the competition.
England came close with Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, Italy should have done so but no one could check their run, and Greece had no opportunity to as Duarte's red card encouraged the Ticos to fall into a low-block.
Arjen Robben could not be better set to haul in a long diagonal from Blind and approach Keylor Navas one vs. one. The Levante goalkeeper is brilliant, but he'll lose the war of attrition.
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