Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The Netherlands may have proved some doubters wrong by making it out of the group stage but its goal to make it back to the World Cup final begins on Sunday against Mexico (12 p.m. ESPN).
The Dutch have been firing on all cylinders offensively, scoring 10 goals in their first three matches, and have bought into head coach Louis Van Gaal’s counter-attacking system, much different than the 4-3-3 system that they used throughout the qualification process. Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie have been immense up front but they go up against a similar style in Mexico, as well as a goalkeeper in form.
Guillermo Ochoa has earned the plaudits from around the globe for his performances at the World Cup so far but his three centerbacks in front of him will need to be on their game to stop Van Persie and Robben from exposing their lack of pace. That makes Hector Herrera and Carlos Salcido in defensive midfield that much more important, to cover the space that will be between defense and midfield.
In the second match on Sunday, surprise Group D winners Costa Rica look to earn a place in the quarterfinals for the first time in history against veteran-laden Greece (4 p.m. ESPN). Costa Rica has been defensively stout like the Greeks but took advantage of its comfort of playing in the heat to tire out their opposition with a high-energy pressing game. This match, played in Recife, could have a similar outcome.
If you will be watching today’s matches, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action.