Costa Rica have shown they can attack with intent RRS feed

  • Question

  • Nestled among three blockbuster World Cup quarter-finals, the contest between Netherlands and underdogs Costa Rica arguably generates the least interest of the four fixtures.

    However, both teams topped their groups in some style, and the match threatens to be a wholly entertaining encounter.


    Costa Rica have been a breath of fresh air during the competition, overcoming illustrious group-stage opposition in Italy and England.


    The Dutch have also surprised many after slaughtering Spain in Group B and beating an impressive Chile team.

    Despite the fantastic run to the quarter-finals by Costa Rica they are yet to come up against a truly dangerous strike combination.

    In their opening victory against Uruguay, the South Americans could not field Luis Suarez, who was still recovering from a knee injury. This left them short in the attacking department, where an out-of-form Edinson Cavani posed little threat.

    Against Italy and England they faced forward lines that have seen better days in the past, while in the round of 16, Greece simply did not have the striking quality necessary to trouble them.

    Now Costa Rica face Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie―two world-class talents who could destroy any defence individually, let alone as a pairing.

    Opta Sports' Netherlands Twitter account tweeted about the two players and highlighted just how good they are:

    Both players already have three goals to their names at the World Cup, per WhoScored.com, and they could both add to this tally unless Costa Rica produce another tactical masterclass.

    Robben has looked particularly dangerous―replicating his club form on the international stage, marauding past defenders as if they are not there.

    RvP has had an excellent tournament considering his stop-start season for Manchester United caused by repeated injury issues.

    It is clear Van Persie is still short of top fitness, having to be replaced later in games as the strain starts to show, but with Robben he has ample support and can still make an impact—as shown by his brilliant game-changing header against Spain.

    Former United defender Rio Ferdinand gave his opinion on whether he thought the Dutch could go all the way this time after failing in three previous World Cup finals:

    Costa Rica have shown they can attack with intent, and they have the confidence to battle with any side, whatever their opponent's reputations.

    However, surely they will feel the heat sooner or later as the stakes rise in the knockout rounds. Greece provided a kind passage through the round of 16, but even in that game Costa Rica struggled and showed signs of fatigue.

    If they cannot raise their level and compete for a full 90 minutes, they could be put to the sword by the Netherlands very early in this tie.

    Louis van Gaal has one major decision to make for his quarter-final match against Costa Rica and that is one of tactical formation.

    In what could be the coach's last match in charge of the Netherlands, LvG must decide whether he goes back to his trusted 4-3-3 or sticks with the 5-3-2 variation tactic that was so successful against Spain.

    The option of three centre-backs, all capable of playing out from the defence, allows Van Gaal to instruct his wide players to play as wing-backs and work the opposition. It also allows Wesley Sneijder a more protected role in central midfield, playing not so much as a No. 10 but as a deeper, attacking player.

    The reliance is then on Robben and Van Persie to get the goals—and so far they have not disappointed.

    Van Gaal might be tempted to return to 4-3-3 given that the opposition are not the greatest, but this would be a huge mistake.

    Costa Rica have shown they are very adept in the final third, through the likes of Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz, and they will surely gamble that at this stage of the competition it is worth relying on their attacking instincts.

    If LvG sticks with 5-3-2 and allows his team to do what they have in the past two weeks then this should be a regulation victory for his side. They have looked comfortable in this tournament, bar their almost inexplicable failure against Mexico, winning the game in injury time.

    Costa Rica will pose a certain threat to the Dutch, but if Van Gaal's team stick to the form book they should proceed to the semi-finals.
    Saturday, July 5, 2014 3:54 PM