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Will Costa Rica Or The Netherlands Book Their Place To The World Cup Semi Finals?

Saturday 5th July 2014
Louis Van Gaal's decision to introduce Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the final quarter of the Netherlands last-16 clash with Mexico was an inspired one as the Schalke hotshot not only scored a last-minute penalty for the Dutch, but also assisted Wesley Sneijder's 88th minute strike to orchestrate a 2-1 victory and book their place in Saturday's quarter-final with a flourishing Costa Rica.

Costa Rica have been one of the surprise packages of this 2014 World Cup and having worked tirelessly with 10-men to try and maintain their 1-0 lead over a Greece a last-gasp strike from Sokratis Papastathopoulous saw the game go into extra-time and then penalties, but Jorge Luis Pinto's side managed to edge out their Greek rivals in the shootout to secure their place in the last eight.

Keylor Navas has been a phenomenal part of Costa Rica's success with some sublime goalkeeping, but whilst he missed training in the lead-up to this final quarter-final he is expected to take his place in the starting line-up and he could well have a busy evening ahead of him in Salvador as the Dutch ooze attacking prowess throughout their ranks and the triumvirate of the aforementioned Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie will certainly test a disciplined Costa Rican rear guard.

With such electric talent in the final third it's understandable that the bookmakers have installed the Dutch as strong favourites to book their place in the semi-final, where they will face either Argentina or Belgium, and Bet365 have Van Gaal's men as a best-priced 8/15, whilst Costa Rica are as big as 13/2 to win in 90 minutes, with the draw available at 10/3 with Betfred.

Whilst the Dutch have won all four of their games in Brazil scoring 12 goals, Costa Rica have a couple of wins to their name with a brace of draws, but don't possess the same attacking prowess as their European opponents and a lot will be down to how Joel Campbell leads the line for the underdogs.  However, Australia showed in the Group stages that the Dutch are potentially vulnerable at the back and I expect Costa Rica to at least notch in this contest and so William Hill's 6/5 for both teams to score could be one for short-priced backers.

Their 5-1 demolition of Spain in the early part of the tournament showed that the Dutch can turn on the style if in the mood and the aforesaid Robben is an integral part of the attacking machine and whilst he has come in for some criticism with his diving theatrics his dribbling brilliance scares even the best defenders and he can sparkle on the big stage and ignite a Netherlands success.

Robin Van Persie heads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 as he looks to notch his fourth goal of the tournament, but Robben's trickery could well unlock the Costa Rican back line with ease and at 9/2 with BetVictor is the standout flutter, whilst Bet365's 17/2 for the Bayern Munich star to bag a brace is also an eye-catching bet.

A 1-0 victory for the Dutch spearheads the betting in the correct score market, but that 5/1 looks a little skinny in a match that has the capability of producing goals and it's BetVictor's 9/1 about a Netherlands 2-1 success that is the interesting price and they can book their place in the last four of what is bubbling up into one of the greatest World Cup tournaments of all time.
Steve Chambers
Steve has been avid follower of Bristol City and trips to Ashton Gate since the mid 1990s have seen him fall in love with the club, but success has hardly been a regular emotion felt by him and twin that with England's failures he has not tasted to many exciting days as a football fan. However, he enjoys all parts of the "Beautiful Game" and whether it's a Champions League match or Conference clash, Steve enjoys watching the heat of the battle. Sport is certainly his passion, but football is the one that gets him excited the most and he will be looking to provide some informative, yet sometimes controversial pieces for you to enjoy as the reader.

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