Costa Rica can deliver
Ian Ogg previews Sunday's last-16 games at the World Cup, with the Netherlands and Costa Rica expected to advance.
- Related Content
The Dutch stunned the tournament with their demolition of Spain in their opening match and proceeded to top their group but they face a tough task in the knockout stages. Mexico held hosts Brazil to a goalless draw while seeing off Croatia and Cameroon, conceding only one goal in the process but their defence could have their work cut out to keep flying winger Arjen Robben at bay.
This will be the first ever meeting between Costa Rica and Greece. Costa Rica have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup for only the second time in their history and this is the first time ever for Greece.
This game could be tight and extra-time looks a real possibility but Costa Rica are taken to edge it in 90 minutes.
Check out our match verdicts below.
- 1.5pt draw half-time/Netherlands full-time v Mexico at 17/4 (General) - this result would have collected in the Oranje's last three games and this tie could well go the same way.
- 1pt second half to be highest scoring at 6/5 (StanJames, youwin) - this could be cagey to begin with but can open up in the second half as the sides look to take more risks.
- 0.5pt Costa Rica to beat Greece 1-0 at 6/1 (Ladbrokes) - there appears to be little to separate these two sides but Costa Rica may have enough going forwards to edge it.
Netherlands v Mexico (Round of 16, Fortaleza, 1700 BST)
The Netherlands qualified in good style from Group B although their last two performances in defeating Chile and Australia, not surprisingly perhaps, failed to live up to the brilliance of their 5-1 defeat of Spain.
They will need to come close to matching the zest and verve of their opening encounter in order to get the better of Mexico whose defence has been superbly marshalled by their 35 year-old captain Rafael Marquez, whose team conceded just once in successfully negotiating a group consisting of hosts Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia.
The Dutch have been at their best when counter-attacking but the onus is likely to be on them to go forwards as it was against Chile where it took them until deep into the second half to break the deadlock.
Given that their qualification was already assured it would be dangerous to put too much faith in the way that tie unfolded but we could be set for a similar encounter with Mexico also set up to counter attack.
Mexico were drawing at half-time in all three of their games and the half-time/full-time markets are, therefore, worthy of close examination no matter what your take is on the likely outcome.
The problem with that approach is that both sides to have quality going forwards and Arjen Robben, for one, is capable of that bit of magic that can turn a game on its head.
The Bayern Munich player has been in great form, scoring three and laying on an assist for Memphis Depay who described Robben as 'unstoppable' and he is not alone in his praise of the winger with Willy van de Kerkhof hailing him as a better player than Lionel Messi and Dirk Kuyt claiming he wouldn't swop him for any other player in the tournament.
Mexico's chances of progressing will clearly be greatly enhanced if they can stop Robben but they did manage to keep Neymar et al at bay with the help of a fine performance from keeper Guillermo Ochoa.
The Dutch are vulnerable at the back as Australia showed but they should produce a more disciplined display in the knock-out phase of the tournament and they possess enough quality going forwards to win the tie with Robin van Persie set to be restored to the attack.
The odds about a draw/Netherlands result looks overpriced (this would have collected in their last three games) while odds-against about the second half containing the most goals also appeals in a tie that could become more open as it progresses.
Verdict: Netherlands 3 Mexico 1
Mexico have lost three and drawn one of their last four encounters with the Netherlands, conceding at least two goals on each of these occasions.
Mexico have been knocked out of the World Cup finals at the second round stage in all five editions since 1994.
10 of the last 12 World Cup goals scored by Mexico have come after half time, while the Netherlands have scored eight of their last nine World Cup goals in the second half.
Arjen Robben has scored eight goals in his last nine appearances for the Netherlands.
Robin van Persie has scored 21 goals in his last 25 appearances for the Oranje.
Costa Rica v Greece (Round of 16, Recife, 2100 BST)
Greece were a shade fortunate to progress to the second round courtesy of a contentious penalty in injury time although they had hit the Ivory Coast crossbar on three occasions.
That was by far and away their best performance following a scoreless draw against Japan and a 3-0 defeat to Columbia and they will need to carry on the good work if they are to get the better of Costa Rica.
The Latin Americans may have been billed as also-rans in Group D but there was no fluke about their qualification for the second round with defeat of Uruguay and Italy before a tame draw with England sealed their position at the top of the table.
There will be a little extra pressure on Jose Luis Pinto's side given that they go into this tie as favourites whereas before, little had been expected of them but they appear to have the qualities to cope with that in what could be a tight encounter.
Joel Campbell has enhanced his reputation with an excellent tournament and the Arsenal man's pace can be expected to trouble the Greek defence which makes him of interest at around 7/1 in the first goalscorer market.
It's no surprise that under 2.5 goals has been chalked up at around 2/5 but under 1.5 goals is worth considering at 6/4 along with the 1-0 correct scorelines for both sides with the possibility of extra-time and even penalties not dismissed.
Costa Rica look to have enough about them to edge this tie and record an historic victory and I'll take them to do so by the odd goal.
Verdict: Costa Rica 1 Greece 0
Greece's seven wins at major tournaments have never been by more than one clear goal (four 1-0 and three 2-1 wins).
Greece have only kept one clean sheet in nine World Cup games, against Japan in 2014 (0-0).
Costa Rica are yet to concede a goal from open play at this World Cup, the only one they have let in being Edinson Cavani's penalty.
None of Costa Rica's four goals at this World Cup have been scored before the 44th minute.
Meanwhile, each of Greece's four goals in World Cup history have been scored from the 42nd minute onwards.