Robben To Assist In Another Oranje WinStats
Holland v Costa Rica
Holland take on the surprise package of this summer’s World Cup – Costa Rica – in what appears to be the most one-sided of the quarter-finals, but will it turn out that way?
The Dutch have arguably been less impressive with each passing game at this tournament. Louis van Gaal’s side started like a house on fire with a memorable 5-1 demolition of champions, Spain, but stumbled over the line in the first knockout round against Mexico with a controversial late penalty giving them a 2-1 victory.
A fine goal from Giovani Dos Santos just after half-time had given the Mexicans a deserved lead last Sunday and they were just minutes away from victory when Wesley Sneijder’s thumped finish from the edge of the area made it all square. The game then turned with a penalty awarded to Holland in the third minute of injury time when Arjen Robben appeared to go down under minimal contact, as had been a recurring feature of the game.
It mattered little to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar though, as the substitute kept his cool to send the keeper the wrong way and put his country into the last eight with their sixth win in a row.
The remarkable story of Costa Rica’s tournament continued in their first knockout game when they came through on penalties against Greece after just hanging on in extra-time when they were down to ten men.
A second goal in three games for Bryan Ruiz gave the Ticos the lead just after the break but following Oscar Duarte’s sending off in the 66th minute they were up against it for the rest of game, eventually succumbing to a goal from Sokaratis Papastathopoulos in the last minute of normal time.
How the Costa Ricans survived an extra half hour is anyone’s guess as many of their players were out on their feet but they made it to penalties and didn’t miss one in a display of nerve as admirable as is was surprising to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
The Netherlands will be without midfield enforcer Nigel De Jong for the rest of the tournament after the Dutch FA confirmed he won’t be recover from a groin strain in time to play any further part. Norwich City midfielder Leroy Fer is also a major doubt with a hamstring problem which kept him out against Mexico.
Duarte will serve a one-match ban for his red card against Greece but coach Jorge Pinto is still expected to field a five-man defence with Jose Cubero expected to line out instead of Duarte as one of three-centre backs. There are no new injury worries for Pinto to deal with, however.
The last eight clash will be the first time these teams have met in a senior international.
Costa Rica would have been the underdogs no matter which of the other seven teams remaining in the competition they were paired with so odds of 7/1 on a win in 90 minutes are as expected.
Aside form the Spanish game, Holland have become masters of doing just enough to win but I can see this being a bit more clear cut as they won’t want to leave anything to chance so 11/8 on the -1 handicap looks well worth backing here.
It’s impossible to ignore Robben’s impact for his side too and though the focus will be on him following previous incidents he’ll still be very difficult to stop,
the Bayern Munich attacker is evens to score anytime but I prefer the 9/4 available on him to assist any goal.