By Jesse Wieten
SALVADOR, Brazil, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands returns to Salvador on Saturday for the World Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica, hoping to revive the magical 5-1 win against reigning world champions Spain on June 13 in the same Arena Fonte Nova.
After following wins over Australia (3-2) and Chile (2-0) the Dutch finished as group winners and faced Mexico in the last 16 in Fortaleza. Thanks to two late goals by Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (penalty) the Dutch also beat Mexico 2-1. The Netherlands came from behind to win three times at the 2014 World Cup.
'Oranje' qualified for the last eight for the sixth time in World Cup history. They reached the final in 1974, 1978 and 2010, came fourth in 1998 and only lost in the quarterfinals against Brazil (3-2) in 1994.
"Our team already achieved outstanding results," Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal said on Friday at the press conference in Salvador. "And that will remain the case even if we lose this quarter-final. But this Dutch team will fight until the very last minute to try to be world champions."
"Our goal has always been to become world champions," Van Gaal added. "We're not a fantastic team but we are difficult to beat. We've shown that so far and I hope that we can continue that all the way to the final."
The Netherlands suffered a major setback, with Nigel de Jong being out for two to four weeks and missing the remainder of the World Cup. De Jong limped off after nine minutes against Mexico (2-1) with a groin injury. The 29-year-old midfielder was of crucial importance in the three group phase matches as defensive block on the midfield. Daley Blind will most likely replace him as midfielder.
"It will be difficult to replace him because Nigel is very important player for us," Van Gaal said. "He has attributes that other players don't have, like putting pressure on opponents."
Costa Rica will be without suspended Oscar Duarte, who received a red card against Greece. Despite the expulsion the Costa Ricans managed to hold on until the penalty shoot-outs and reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in history. In the group phase they already impressed with a 3-1 win over Uruguay, a 1-0 victory over Italy and a 0-0 draw against England.
While the Dutch were the most scoring team after the last 16 matches with a total of twelve goals, Costa Rica were among the teams conceding least goals in the first four matches together with Colombia, Belgium and France (all conceding two goals).
"Of course I respect the Dutch team, but we have played against England, Italy, and even Greece is a very difficult team," Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto told reporters on Friday. "We are never scared, we respect them but we will try to control them."
The Colombian coach also said that he was worried about the "diving" of Dutch ace Arjen Robben. The latter admitted after the match against Mexico that in two situations he should have been granted a penalty, of which the decisive one in injury-time, but that in one other case he was falling too easily.
Pinto urged referee Ravshan Irmatov to keep a close eye on Robben in Saturday's match. "He admitted his diving," the Costa Rica coach said. "I would like to ask FIFA and the referees to watch out and be very careful because this is very important and this could have a huge impact on the result."
In addition Pinto praised Robben as "one of the three or four best players in the world". The Dutch striker has indeed been impressive so far in the tournament. The Costa Rican team will be attempting to shut down Robben and his striking partner Robin van Persie, who combined for six goals in their first two matches. If not and Van Persie and Robben are able to shine, the way to a second consecutive World Cup semifinal lies open for 'Oranje'.