Louis Van Gaal helped Netherlands overcome a very defensive Costa Rica, substituting a goalkeeper as a tactical play that won Netherlands the match.
Netherlands vs Costa Rica:
VAN PERSIE! He had a drive in the 21st, but it was saved by Navas, who hit it out. Sneijder retained it, and got a drive, but it was too easy for Navas.
Robben got an interception from a feeble pass, played wide to Kuyt, and Kuyt crossed to Van Persie. The Flying Dutchman was in on goal in the 25th, but he missed the cross that he could’ve clearly gotten. He actually wanted to continue the attack, but he let it go because he knew he was offside. Depay was also offside, sadly.
Bolanos had a cross free kick in the 27th, and it was good, but it went just over Borges.
DEPAY! Van Persie made a play to Depay on the left, who took a shot at Navas from a slim angle, but the World Class shot-stopper got a hand to it. If Costa Rica moves on, he would be the only goalkeeper to even challenge Neuer for the Golden Glove, as Julio Cesar and Serge Romero were unspectacular.
Costa Rica won a free kick from 30 yards on the right. Cillessen claimed Bolanos’s attempt in the 33rd.
Bolanos had another free kick from a distance in the 34th. It was a great kick, and it went wide of the goal, but still in, as another man headed back in. The third player involved in the piece tried to fire from close, but the defence was disciplined. Robben got a counter, but it didn’t create much at all.
Diaz was shown yellow in the 37th, and Netherlands had a free kick just outside the box. WHAT A SAVE! Robben dummied it, and Sneijder took a shot that was hit out by Navas.
Van Persie was through in the box after a Robben play, but Keylor Navas grabbed it before the Manchester United striker could get a shot.
Half Time: Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica
Half Time Report:
Netherlands has played a passing style today, as Costa Rica’s tactically perfect defensive setup has forced them to move the ball around the pitch more. They have pulled all the stops in trying to break the Costa Rican defence, whether it meant countering their counters or playing off Robben and Sneijder.
This World Cup fixture is one of the best in terms of tactical execution. Not only has Louis Van Gaal created an attacking wonderland for worldwide fans and pundits alike, Jorge Luis Pinto has played around it.
Costa Rica’s defensive system has been so disciplined and sharp. If you were watching and you looked into their defensive setup in the match, you could see the 5-4-1 formation that they started. Here’s how they looked on the pitch.
In defence, the setup had 5 men in a straight line guarding the box, with 4 men in front. Joel Campbell roamed the opposition half, looking around for a long ball and opening up so the Dutch defence couldn’t venture into attack themselves. In the attack, Bolanos broke out along with Bryan Ruiz, with the latter able to move into the centre if Cristian Gamboa was able to attack. This system got them close on multiple occasions. The error was that, in attack, they often committed up to 7 men in attacking areas, and the pace of Arjen Robben and Memphis Depay allows Netherlands to thrive on the counter.
Louis Van Gaal’s setup made it clear that he knew Costa Rica was going to defend deep. He knew he needed a rushing midfielder, so he pushed Depay and Robben wide in his preferred 3-4-3/3-5-2, and he played Sneijder in the centre of the park because of his bursting runs. This is how it looked on the pitch.
The front 3 clearly have license to roam and keep all 3 Costa Rican centre backs busy, and Sneijder controls in attacking spells from just behind. The attacking setup is complete when Daley Blind and Dirk Kuyt reach the top of the pitch, as this allows Depay and Robben to move to the centre. This way, Netherlands can provide both a passing threat, a longshot threat, an aerial threat, and a pace threat.
The 2nd half started.
Umana was shown yellow in the 52nd.
De Vrij received the Dutch corner in the 56th, but his header was blocked.
DIAZ! He made a beautiful play, from a counter, to Campbell, who went down in the box. Replays showed that it was a penalty, but the ref said play on.
Costa Rica had a free kick in the 61st. It went well over.
Martins Indi was shown yellow for a malicious challenge on Ruiz in the 64th. WHAT A CHANCE! Giancarlo Gonzalez headed just over!
Joel Campbell was the first player to make way for Marcos Urena.
Robben set up Van Persie in the middle, but the striker had no angle. He tried to put it back for Robben to take a 1 touch shot, but Costa Rica cleared quickly for a corner. The corner in the 68th was scrambled, but the ball was cleared from the box.
Gamboa was receiving medical treatment in the 69th.
Netherlands had a free kick in the 74th, and Vlaar’s header went just over.
Depay came off for Jermain Lens in the 75th.
Robben won another corner in the 77th.
Cristian Gamboa came off about 10 minutes after his injury for Myrie.
Giancarlo Gonzalez received a yellow card, and would miss the match if Costa Rica made it. Meanwhile, Robben won a free kick just outside the box in the 81st. It was from a great angle. Sneijder took it. HE HIT THE POST! It curled into the post! What a play!
Robben won a free kick from the right touchline around the box in the 82nd. It went in the box and it came out.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE! In the aftermath of the free kick, the box was scrambled around trying to scrape for something. Van Persie got the ball and shot from the right, but Keylor Navas saved AGAIN!
VAN PERSIE! HOW DID HE MISS? Sneijder had a cross from in the box straight to Van Persie, who needed a 1 touch finish, but in the 88th, he missed the ball!
Robben won a free kick just outside the box, as Diaz fouled Robben with a nasty challenge. He really should’ve taken a 2nd yellow. Van Persie was behind it. KEYLOR NAVAS STOPPED IT! WHAT A REBOUND! The ball went out to Sneijder, who played to Blind on the edge of the box. Blind crossed to Kuyt, who couldn’t slide to the ball! It went to the edge of the box to Van Persie, who shot. It was going in, but it went off Tejeda and hit the bar! How on earth is it 0-0 right now?
Full Time: Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica
The Dutch look frustrated, as they really should’ve scored by now.
KEYLOR NAVAS! In the 93rd, a Ron Vlaar header was put right across the face of the Costa Rican goal, but he hit it out for a corner!
Keylor Navas went down injured in the 94th. He was receiving treatment but he stayed on the pitch.
Urena was down in the box, but no penalty was awarded in the 97th.
Netherlands won a free kick in the 102nd for a handball (that wasn’t really a handball). Robben kicked it into the wall.
ET Half Time: Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica
Robben won a free kick on the right side of the box in the 106th. Acosta was shown yellow.
Huntelaar came on for Martins Indi in the 106th.
Gonzalez gave Netherlands another corner in the 108th.
Huntelaar was shown yellow for a challenge on Navas in the air, WHO GOT INJURED AGAIN!
Costa Rica actually won a corner in the 115th.
COSTA RICA! CILLESSEN SAVES NETHERLANDS in the 116th!
Netherlands won another corner, as Bryan Ruiz was down injured in the 117th.
THE BAR FOR NETHERLANDS! SNEIJDER CURLED IT INTO THE BAR IN THE 119th!
Tim Krul the goalkeeper came on for Cillessen, for the shootout. SHOOTOUT!
ET Full Time: Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica
Borges took the first penalty. GOAL! Costa Rica went up! Penalties Costa Rica 1-0 Netherlands
Next was Robin Van Persie. WHAT A GOAL! He slid into the bottom corner, but Navas was on it. Costa Rica 1-1 Netherlands Penalties
Bryan Ruiz was up next. KRUL SAVED IT! WHAT A SUBSTITUTION! Penalties Costa Rica 1-1 Netherlands
Arjen Robben! He scored easily! Costa Rica 1-2 Netherlands Penalties
Gonzalez barely beat Krul… barely. Penalties Costa Rica 2-2 Netherlands
Wesley Sneijder finished his very easily. Costa Rica 2-3 Netherlands Penalties
Bolanos was after… and he finished calmly. Penalties Costa Rica 3-3 Netherlands
Dirk Kuyt was up… WHAT A PENALTY! Costa Rica 3-4 Netherlands Penalties
Umana went up… SAVED BY KRUL! ARGENTINA VS NETHERLANDS!
Penalties Full Time: Netherlands 1-0 Costa Rica; MOTM Keylor Navas
Tim Krul- Coming on in the 120th, he saved 2 penalties to spur Netherlands to a win. 7
Stefan De Vrij and Ron Vlaar- The former would be unlucky not to find a big club now, and the latter should prove himself for Aston Villa. 7.5
Daley Blind- Even from left-wing back, he controlled the midfield in a way, covering Wesley Sneijder’s darting runs. 7
Dirk Kuyt- He was solid in defence and attack. He gets extra points for one of the best penalties in the tournament. 8
Wesley Sneijder- He hit the bar and was so close on so many occasions. He was a great engine from midfield. 8.5
Arjen Robben- He was beating man after man on the right wing, and created so many chances, while winning so many setpieces. 9
Robin Van Persie- He was absolutely stellar at creating chances, and super unlucky not to score 3 times. 7.5
Keylor Navas- That was the best individual performance we’ve seen by anyone in this tournament so far. 9.5
Neymar was stretchered off in Brazil’s game after a tackle to the back from Juan Camilo Zuniga. He seemed flat out, and contrary to his notorious diving approach, he couldn’t move as he was stretchered to the hospital last night.
He was ruled out of the World Cup, as the doctors explained that he fractures his third vertebra.
Netherlands has set up a semi-final fixture with a South American team for the 2nd time running, and Argentina is certainly not a pushover. With 2 teams that play very similar styles, who will prevail? Let us know in the comment section.