Netherlands must be thanking their stars as they rode their luck after scoring twice in the latter stages to eliminate Mexico 2-1 on Sunday. But the Orange looked the second best team in the match and lacked penetration to cause much threat upfront. They have the conditions to blame but Mexico too faced the brunt.
Substitute, Klass Jan-Huntelaar, was the man who made the difference in the end. The Schalke striker who just touched the ball seven times during his stay on the pitch, made an assist and then scored the winner from the penalty spot. Also it was the controversial penalty awarded to Arjen Robben for being tripped in the box which looked a genuine dive from minimal contact.
Louis van Gaal’s side cannot rely on pushing their luck once again when they face Costa Rica in the quarter-finals. Costa Rica has surprised one and all and has clearly been the best team of the tournament so far. There were two cooling breaks as the heat outside was scorching and the Dutch were struggling in the conditions and were defending deep. Mexico looked more threatening in the entire match and kept their attacking brilliance intact. The Dutch have been supreme so far in Brazil but Sunday’s show was a drop down in their performance which they now need to be aware of.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, has won hearts of football fans and accolades from all corners after sounding displays in every match they have played so far. Costa Rica, who do not boast of big names, emerged as the topper in the Group of Death after beating former world champions Italy and Uruguay. On Sunday, 10-man Costa Rica saw off Greece in an enthralling penalty shoot-out. The Central American side have been very disciplined in every area on the field. They have looked like a side that can surprise anybody in an amazing spell of a run.
Netherlands have experience and Louis van Gaal will look forward to getting the best from his team after being lucky to find themselves in the last- eight. Costa Rica will be hard to break down and can produce magic on Saturday as the Dutch will hope they do not fall victim to their opponent’s illusion.