World Cup 2014: Day 18
The first game on Sunday sees the Netherlands take on Mexico in Fortaleza. The Dutch have been in sensational attacking form so far in this competition, tearing defending World Champions Spain apart 5-1 in their opening game. A double from Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, along with a goal from Stefan de Vrij left the Spanish shellshocked that day. It was a similar display of attacking prowess in Porto Alegre, as they defeated Australia 3-2. The Australians gave the Dutch a great game, including one of the goals of the tournament by Tim Cahill, but another for Robben and van Persie, as well as one for youngster Memphis Depay, who becomes the youngest scorer in this current World Cup finals, ensured all 3 points on the day. Chile put up more resiliance in the final group game, and it took until the 77th minute and a goal from Leroy Fer to break the deadlock. Youngster Depay ensured the victory in stoppage time with his second of the competition. Louis Van Gaal’s side have now lost just once in their last 24 games, a 2-0 defeat against France in March, and will be hoping to add to that record. They will also be glad to welcome back Robin van Persie, who missed the final group game through suspension, for this clash. The Netherlands registered 2-1 wins the last two times the two sides met, and would be more than happy with the same scoreline again this time.
Mexico finished second in group A on goal difference, although they almost overturned the goal difference in their final group game to finish ahead of hosts Brazil. They started the tournament with a 1-0 victory against Cameroon, although they also had another two goals disallowed, which replays went on to show should have stood. Oribe Peralta grabbed the winner that day. Guillermo Ochoa was then in inspired form as they held hosts Brazil to a 0-0 draw in this stadium, before beating Croatia 3-1 in their final group game. Rafael Márquez gave the Mexicans the lead, before goals from Guardado and Javier Hernández ensured the win. Both these sides look good going forward, so I’m going with both teams to score in this one.
Surprise package Costa Rica take on Greece in Recife in the other game of the day. Costa Rica surprised many in not only qualifying from a group containing Uruguay, England and Italy, but in also doing so as group winners. They started the tournament in fantastic fashion with a 3-1 win against Uruguay, despite falling behind. Joel Campbell, Óscar Duarte and Marcos Ureña grabbed the goals that day. They then faced Italy in this stadium, and were again triumphant when Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz grabbed the only goal of the game. With qualification secured, they rested several players and played with less urgency against England, as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw in Belo Horizonte. Despite coming into the tournament in fine form, they are in the last 16 on merit, Arsenal striker Joel Campbell proving he could be ready to step up to the Premier League with his performances so far.
Greece needed until the last minute, and a penalty from Giorgios Samaras, to grab qualification ahead of Côte d’Ivoire. They suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat in their opening game against Colombia, while they seemed happy to shut up shop and then claim a 0-0 draw in their second game against Japan. With qualification hinging on their final group game, Greece took the lead through Andreas Samaris, before an equaliser from Wilfred Bony seemed set to send the Ivory Coast through. However, a penalty was awarded to the former European champions right at the death, and former Manchester City striker Samaras stepped up and calmly fired home, despite the pressure. It’s hard not to see Greece reverting to their defensive ways in this game, hoping to hit Costa Rica on the counter attack, while Los Ticos are also at their strongest when hitting on the break. I’m edging towards a Costa Rican win in this one.Share this: