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World Cup pre-game: Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

The Netherlands, perennial favourites, clash with World Cup surprises Costa Rica — the surprise darlings of this year's World Cup.

Could this be the end of Costa Rica's miracle run in Brazil?

Dutch striker Arjen Robben has become one of the most charismatic and polarizing figures at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

  • 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 5 
  • CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup

What’s at stake

The Netherlands, perennial favourites, clash with World Cup surprises Costa Rica — the surprise darlings of this year's World Cup. There’s no head-to-head history between these two teams. 

The winner here plays the winner of Argentina-Belgium in Sao Paulo on Wednesday July 9 at 4 p.m. ET.

Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong is out due to a tear in his groin. Costa Rican defender Roy Miller is out with a leg injury suffered during training. And Oscar Duarte of Costa Rica will miss this game due to a second yellow he received against Greece.

Impact players

Netherlands: Arjen Robben. Yes, he scores. And yes, he falls down. But he also lights up the pitch for his team.

Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz. He scored in regular time - his second of the tournament - and helped his team battle to PKs with only 10 players.

What to watch for

The Dutch waited an eternity — 88 minutes — to score their first goal against Mexico. Manager Louis Van Gaal was none too pleased with such a sluggish start.

The Netherlands will want to get off to a start similar to the one they had in their opening match against Spain.

Costa Rica put themselves down to 10 men in the 66th minute against Greece. But their tenacity kept them in the game.

It could wear down the Netherlands if Los Ticos find a way to constantly dispossess Van Persie and Robben of the ball.

They said it

“Difficult and great victory. To make the difference with our team in the last three minutes is fantastic.” — Wesley Sneijder writing on his Twitter account after his laser-like blast tied the match with Mexico.

“This is a people that love football and they deserve it. We will continue fighting. We will go on. We see beautiful things." — Costa Rica’s manager Luis Pinto speaking to media after his team defeated Greece.

The big number

30 — The Netherlands have scored a goal every 30 minutes (on average) in this World Cup, compared to the overall average of every 65 minutes. That translates to 12 goals in four matches.

Obligatory fun fact

Costa Rica had two shots on target in their Round of 16 game against Greece. But thanks to Ruiz they scored on 50 per cent of those attempts.


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