Costa Rica have shined in the 2014 World Cup so far but now the most difficult task is ahead of them as they play Netherlands in the quarter-finals. The Dutch are here to win the title and get back what they think is rightfully theirs as they've lost the 2010 final to Spain 1-0, but they'll first have to take care of the biggest surprise team of this tournament.
Los Ticos have progressed through the ranks of this tournament with fantastic performances and created the biggest shock in World Cup group stage history as they topped Group D with England, Italy and Uruguay as the underdog of the group and the team expected to finish rock bottom. But, first they shocked Uruguay with a 1-3 victory and amazing attacking display, then changed the tactics and won 0-1 against Italy with generous usage of the offside trap, and finally kept England to a 0-0 draw to top the group with 7 points. In the round of 16 they met Greece, a very difficult opponent to play against, and conceded an equalizer in injury time to go to extra time and to eventually win the clash in penalty shootout.
All eyes will be on Costa Rica as this small Central American country with 4.5 million people finds itself in the quarter-finals of the World Cup among the biggest teams in the world. The defensive display has been quite good, helped by the offside trap which the Costa Ricans are using whenever they can, and in offense they have displayed a wide arsenal of weapons, with Joel Campbell being the key player.
The Netherlands have been hot and cold so far, shining against Spain in the opening round, winning against the current World and European champions 1-5, and then looking unrecognizable against Australia but they still won the match. They went on to beat Chile 2-0 and to top the group, getting Mexico instead of Brazil in the round of 16. Mexico looked like they'll win the match but the Dutch scored two late goals to win the clash. The Netherlands have yet to score less than two goals in regular time, and so far they've scored 12 goals in four matches, an average of 3.00. Arjen Robben is the key player but he isn't helped much by his team mates, Robin van Persie needing a good chance to convert it into a goal. All other players are average, and The Netherlands are depending heavily on their offensive line, Robben in particular.
The question to ask is can the Costa Rican offside trap prevent Netherlands, using long balls almost exclusively, from scoring. If Los Ticos can do it and can take away the best weapon of the Dutch team, they stand a chance in this duel. Uruguay, Italy and England all thought they're favored to beat Costa Rica and are home already.
The match is played in Salvador and Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan will be the referee. The match starts at 21.00 UK time. The winner of this match will meet Argentina or Belgium in the semifinals on 9 July.
Brazil may have progressed to the semi-finals with their 2-1 defeat of Colombia but their star player and poster-boy of the 2014 World Cup, Neymar, is out and won't play again.
Brazil were stunned when Neymar was stretchered off after a clumsy tackle and taking a knee to the back from by Colombia's Juan Zuniga. Writhing in agony, Neymar was obviosuly in a lot of pain leaving the stadium and it was later confirmed that he'd suffered a broken vertebra in his back.
Rodrigo Lasmar, the Brazilian team Doctor confirmed that although he won't need surgery to recover, Neymar will need to immobilise his back and that he'll be unable to play in any of the forthcoming games.
Zuniga later denied that there was any malicious intent saying, “"I never meant to hurt a player. I was on the field, playing for the shirt from my country, not with the intent to injure. I was just defending my shirt."
With his goal scoring talent, netting 4 and also a goal in a penalty shootout in this World Cup, he'll be missed by a Brazil team who haven't played to the best of their abilities so far, although they did get a little redemption in the Colombia match.
Neymar has been a keystone of the games Brazil have been involved in and it'll be interesting to see how the team copes with the loss of it's star player against the strength of the German team who are playing well and look like they may have some more in reserve.
With two goals by central defenders Brazil won 2-1 against Colombia and therefore saw off the most exciting team in the tournament and the hosts advance to the semifinals where they'll face Germany. The match was marked by very poor refereeing by Carlos Velasco Carballo and Neymar's injury which means the World Cup is over for him.
It was another difficult victory for Brazil but they did manage to win this one in regular time and this is a testament to their character. They took the lead in the 7th minute, Thiago Silva being the scorer. Brazil played well and despite David Luiz leaving his defensive duties behind to dribble forward Brazil weren't in danger of conceding as Colombia and James Rodriguez were failing to play exciting football they've played against the likes of Japan, Ivory Coast, Greece and Uruguay.
Referee Carballo from Spain infuriated Colombia with some of his decisions, and some will say he prevented Colombia from playing by always whistling the foul for Brazil. As much as he protected Neymar, he failed to protect James Rodriguez in the same way and Colombia were rendered toothless, playing against the run of play, against the score and against the referee.
The scrappy game was decided when David Luiz whipped in a perfect free kick in the 68th minute for 2-0, and it was the first goal scored directly from a free kick in this tournament. Carballo awarded a penalty kick to Colombia and James Rodriguez converted it, it was 2-1 in the 80th minute. There were some nerve-wracking moments for Brazil in the final minutes but they've managed to protect their lead.
In the 88th minute the disaster struck as Juan Zuniga struck Neymar's back with his knee and broke his spine. The best Brazilian player will miss the rest of the tournament.