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

Netherlands

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?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment