Costa Rica is the Cinderella story of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil but Los Ticos have overstayed their welcome and the Netherlands should send them back to Central America.
In what has been the most exciting FIFA World Cup ever, it would be an absolute travesty if Costa Rica, which is the lowest scorer of the eight remaining teams, made it to the semi-finals. Costa Rica has been lucky – it caught Uruguay on an off day without Luis Suarez and it ran into a Greece side that was incapable of making its extra man count – and Los Ticos play a brand of football that does not warrant a place among the last four of this tremendous tournament.
One admits that one may have been guilty of underestimating Costa Rica. In hindsight, Costa Rica has more than justified its World Football Elo Ratings score – Los Ticos are 19th on the unofficial scale, nine places higher than they are on the FIFA one – and, according to the World Football Elo Ratings, Uruguay (12th), England (13th) and Italy (14th) were not deserving of hot favouritism for their clashes.
The problem for Costa Rica is that the World Football Elo Rating’s top spot belongs to the Netherlands so, if one accepts that the unofficial scale carries more weight than the FIFA one – and comparing the two in light of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil results supports that view – then Los Ticos are in for a very, very, very tough game in Salvador.
The Netherlands has won each of its last six matches and its scoring power – at least two goals in each of its last five victories – spells doom for a Costa Rica team that is likely to play cautiously. Costa Rica defender Oscar Duarte is out of the biggest game in his country’s history after receiving a red card versus Greece so Los Ticos will have to reshuffle their backline and that did not work out very well against Greece. Costa Rica was indebted to Keylor Navas having a blinder between the sticks, otherwise it would be out.
The only negative about the Netherlands is that it has to back up from playing Mexico in the heat of Fortaleza. Costa Rica’s match versus Greece took place in nearby Recife but it kicked off four hours later. If one was sure that the Netherlands has fully recovered from playing its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 game in frankly, inhumane conditions then one would be all over the Dutch at odds of 1.50 with several bookmakers, including Bwin and Coral, to defeat Costa Rica in regulation time. Maybe it is worth staking less money and backing the Netherlands at odds of 2.30 with Betfred and BetVictor, to win to nil.
Neither Argentina nor Belgium has lost a match this year so the draw is sure to be popular when they meet in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil quarter-finals, particularly given the patchy performances of the sides throughout the tournament.
However, one believes that Argentina is a fair bet at odds of 2.20 with Bet365 and BetVictor to beat Belgium without the need for extra time and/or penalties. Belgium’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil odds have been too short for what the Red Devils have produced and, in what shapes as a game of few goals, one would prefer to be on a team featuring Lionel Messi rather than one featuring Romelo Lukaku.
Argentina could get the better of Belgium by playing at the level that it has reached during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. But, if Argentina goes to another level, which is more likely than Belgium doing so, La Albiceleste should qualify for the last four with relative ease. Under two and a half goals at odds of 1.66 with 888sport and Argentina 1-0 at odds of 7.00 with numerous bookmakers, including BetVictor and Paddy Power, are other options that make some appeal on the match in Brasilia.