Netherlands vs Costa Rica World Cup 2014 preview: The key men for each team in the quarter-final

Who will the Netherlands and Costa Rica look to as they fight for a place in the final four?

The Netherlands are overwhelming favourites to progress to the semi-final, but Costa Rica have already sprung plenty of surprises to get this far.

Follow Netherlands v Costa Rica live here

We look at the three key men Louis van Gaal and Jorge Pinto will rely on in Salvador and see what they must do to ensure it is their team in the semi-final.

Read more: Match preview - Stage set for Wesley Sneijder to take leading role
Five reasons why Costa Rica will beat the Netherlands
Five reasons why the Netherlands will beat Costa Rica


Daley Blind

Nigel de Jong was arguably the most important player in Louis van Gaal's 5-3-2 formation, providing the perfect defensive cover for the likes of Arjen Robben and the wing backs to get forward. The Netherlands had been the best team in the tournament until the Mexico match, because De Jong had been fit. Now he's missing, Van Gaal will likely pick Blind in that role - the Ajax left back has earned rave reviews for his forays along the touchline but now must temper his attacking instincts. He has played the position plenty of times but it will also force Van Gaal to tweak the way he approaches the game.

Arjen Robben

Love him or loathe him, Robben - perhaps bar Neymar - has been the stand out player of the tournament. His diving and theatrics mean he will never get the credit he deserves, but the Bayern winger is one of the very, very best in the world. He may still have a streak of greed that is detrimental but his pace, dribbling and finishing mark him out as the Oranje's most potent threat.

Robin van Persie

A lacklustre performance against Mexico led to Van Gaal hauling his captain off with 15 minutes remaining - the comeback came when he was off the pitch. But despite his poor performance in the Fortlaeza heat, Van Persie is still a match-winner with more than enough quality to see his side through. His three goals in the opening two matches are testament to that. Robin van Persie scores a header in the Netherlands' 5-1 victory over Spain Robin van Persie is a match-winner despite a poor game against Mexico

Costa Rica

Keylor Navas

The Costa Rican goalkeeper has been brilliant in the tournament to this point and will have to continued that form if his side are to stand any chance against the Dutch. The Levante goalkeeper has been outstanding all the way through but was pushed to his very best in the last-16 tie against Greece. With Costa Rica down to 10 men and the Greeks piling on the pressure, Navas produced a couple of saves to force the shoot-out - he then produced a brilliant save from Theofanis Gekas, sending Los Ticos through. He faces another tough test against Robin van Persie and Co.

Celso Borges

Their skipper is the heart and soul of this team, typifying the hard work and effort Costa Rica have applied to get to this stage. He is sixth among players who have covered the most distance while not in possession - not including players from Friday's quarter-finals - having covered 17.9km without the ball at his feet. When he does have the ball he is more than capable, with an 81.8 per cent pass completion rate and he rarely fouls, having committed just three in four matches. Borges must put in another lionhearted performance in the centre of midfield tonight.

Joel Campbell

Skipper Bryan Ruiz will also play a big role but Costa Rica look to the Arsenal striker to be provide their match-winning spark. He's provided a goal and an assist in the four games but his selfless work as the lone striker really sets the tone for the rest of the XI and he has the quality should a chance fall his way. Costa Rica have already caused four upsets in this tournament, why can't they make a fifth?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why