Sunday, July 6, 2014

Netherlands needed penalties to beat Costa Rica 4-3 in 2014 Fifa WC

Costa Rica started very badly and on the back foot as they were exposed on the wings with their three defenders. They quickly sorted that and managed to have balance and depth at the back, especially the central position. They needed to get forward and be a threat to the Dutch defence a little bit more. Their compactness bothered them and the ‘General’ in Luis van Gaal pulled the Costa Ricans wider to enable penetrative movements forward.

Arjen Robben and Depay found the easy spaces to run into on both sides and the two changed sides occasionally. Despite the tactical adjustments, the Costa Rican defence had little solution to the pace of the Dutch pace when Robben, Depay, Sneijder and van Persie were in full flight. They found the resolute defending and goalkeeping of the South Americans unbreakable.

For all their trouble and toil, Costa Rica failed to make a telling pass out of the defensive area and gave away possession cheaply. The final pass into the final third was worse, resulting in the substitution of Joe Campbell. They fashioned a few moves into the penalty area but fluffed them.

Turning the 1-3-4-3 into a 1-4-5-1 seemed to keep the Dutch attack at bay effectively, but Holland responded by adding numbers upfront. Robben tried to win every free-kick possible, including one taken by Sneijder against the left upright post.

The best part of the night came in the last four minutes of extra time as The Netherlands attacked and Costa Rica counter attacked in basketball fast break fashion. Both teams were close to scoring thrice in that period of time, including a strike of the cross bar by Sneijder. Urena ran rings around the defence and his efforts were only blocked by Jasper Cillisen, who was replaced by Newcastle’s Krul in time for the penalty shoot-out.

With all the drama, it had to come down to kicks from the penalty spot. Krul saved the two to send the Dutch to face Argentina with a 4-3 win.