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Netherlands vs Costa Rica World Cup 2014 match preview: Five reasons why Costa Rica will beat the Netherlands

The sides meet in a quarter-final in Salvador bidding for a place in the final four

Ahead of Saturday's quarter-final meeting, we find (stretch) to a few reasons for the underdogs to be confident against their illustrious opponents.

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1. If they can win Group D, they can beat the Netherlands

When the draw was made for the World Cup group stage, nobody gave Costa Rica even the slimmest hope of progressing from a group containing England, Italy and Uruguay. And in true, overoptimistic English fashion when it comes to football, the plan for going through was to avoid defeat to Italy and Uruguay and just turn up to beat Costa Rica. How wrong we all were. The CONCACAF nation provided the biggest shock of the first round of games, convincingly overcoming Uruguay 3-1. And just when everybody thought Italy would bring them back down to Earth, a 1-0 victory for Costa Rica sent them through with one game to spare. Finally, a goalless draw with our underachieving (again) nation was enough for Jorge Luis Pinto’s men to top Group D.

2. Everybody supports the underdog

If there is one thing that everybody loves to see happen in any major sporting event, it is for the underdog to defy the odds and come out victorious. Costa Rica – heavy underdogs against Netherlands – will undoubtedly be tested to their limits on the pitch, but they can at least rely on having the 12th man, in the case of the crowd on their side. Because sometimes, all it takes for the underdog to cross the line first is hearing and embracing the support from the stands, willing, urging, and forcing out that extra ounce of effort from somewhere unbeknown. Costa Rica have nothing to fear against a Dutch side expected to win. This could turn out to be a huge advantage.

3. The Netherlands know how to lose at World Cups

As one of the strongest and most feared footballing nations of the past 40 years, the Netherlands certainly know how to blow things when it matters most. The ‘Total Football’ Dutch team of the 1970s lost two consecutive finals, to West Germany in 1974 and Argentina in 1978. As if that wasn’t painful enough, the Netherlands failed to even qualify for the following two tournaments. Even the brilliant Euro 1988 winning side, including Marco van Basten, could only manage the last-16 at the 1990 World Cup. The Dutch yet again failed to qualify in 2002, before only reaching the last-16 in 2006. Then, just when they finally earned another shot at glory in 2010, the Oranje made it a hat-trick of final defeats, losing to Spain.

4. Keylor Navas

The Costa Rican goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, has been one of the World Cup’s most impressive players, leading to a number of top clubs, including Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, entering the hunt for his signature. Considering Costa Rica were down as no-hopers leading into the tournament, it is to Navas’ credit that his side have only conceded two goals in four matches. This is even more impressive considering the quality of attacking players Jorge Luis Pinto’s men have come up against. Navas was the star of the show in Costa Rica’s last-16 victory over Greece, making eight saves during the match and making himself the hero in the penalty shootout, by keeping out the decisive kick.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been one of the best players at this World Cup

5. Time for a CONCACAF nation to reach the semi-final again

It is not since the USA in 1930 that a CONCACAF nation has reached a World Cup semi-final. For those who do not know (probably most) what CONCACAF stands for, it is The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. Considering the first World Cup took place in 1930, it is fair to say that countries from that part of the world haven’t exactly been successful since. Football’s most prestigous international tournament has been dominated by South American and European nations. Brazil have been spoiled as five-time champions, Italy have tasted success on four occasions, while other multiple winners include West Germany, Uruguay and Argentina. Costa Rica almost certainly won’t win the World Cup, but would make a gigantic statement by reaching the last four.