Not many people expected these two teams to play at this stage in Recife. Costa Rica amazingly won their group that featured Uruguay, Italy and England. They recorded seven points including shock wins against Uruguay and Italy. Greece were in trouble after only managing a draw in their first two matches. Greece saved their best performance for the last group game against Ivory Coast. They scored a late goal in each the first and second halves to send them to the next round in dramatic fashion.
Costa Rica has been very organized defensively. Oscar Durate and Giancarlo Gonzales have turned in great performances in the back. Offensively, the Ticos have been inspired by 21-year-old striker Joel Campbell and captain Bryan Ruiz. Greece also are an organized side that defends well. They won’t make many mistakes and rely on a counterattck going forward. Georgios Samaras was the hero of the match against Ivory Coast. Captain Giorgos Karagounis was also inspirational that match. The 37-year-old is a valuable leader for the Greeks.
Prediction: Costa Rica 1, Greece 0
This will be a low scoring game and both teams will struggle to create chances. Costa Rica will break through in the second half.
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The Group B winners play the Group A runners up in Fortaleza. Netherlands recorded a maximum nine points from their group. They put on a clinic in a 5-1 rout of Spain. They followed that up with wins against Australia and Chile. Mexico grinded out a victory against Cameroon in the rain. They proved how well they can defend in a 5-3-2 formation against Brazil where they earned a draw. They scored three second half goals to defeat Croatia and make it out of their group.
Netherlands was a team built around three attacking stars in Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. Van Persie and Robben have been superb this tournament. The question mark for the Dutch was an inexperienced back line. However, the youth defenders like Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind have been serviceable. Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has pushed all the right buttons this World Cup. Starting goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was his first of several great decisions. In-form striker Oribe Peralta has looked fine starting instead of Javier Hernandez. Center back Rafael Marquez has turned back the clock and is putting together a memorable tournament. The Mexico back line will be tested against the Netherlands attacking trio but El Tri have the personnel and tactics to get that done.
Prediction: Mexico 1, Netherlands 1 (Mexico advances 4-3 on penalty kicks)
I think Mexico will go the quarterfinals behind another strong defensive performance and some good fortune in penalty kicks.
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