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Krul on Costa Rica

I saw David Moyes on Friday night sat in a bar in Bermuda with a couple of mates on a golfing holiday. A penny for his thoughts when Louis Van Gaal brought on Tim Krul in the final minute of extra time for the Netherlands penalty shoot out against Costa Rica.

It was a breathless finale to last night’s last quarter final and I was off my seat as the attacks swung one end to the other with both teams looking to avoid the dreaded penalties.

The Dutch’s penalty heartbreak is only second to England’s, but Van Gaal’s decision to bring on Rob Elliot’s teammate Krul was a masterstroke.

Whether it was because Van Gaal viewed him as a better penalty stopper or it was to unsettle the Costa Rica, the move worked and if I attempt to ignore some disappointing antics, Krul carved himself into World Cup history with aplomb saving twice and guessing the right way for every Costa Rica spot kick.

The Costa Ricans were heroes too, playing with an organised beauty and conceding only twice in five games. Afterwards their Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto gave an interview with tears in his eyes but the Tico’s adventure has football fans around the world wanting to know more about this beautiful country.

The Dutch are the only team in the final four never to have won the competition, and both semi’s are repeats of previous finals.

Despite a crazy and impossible to call group stage, we are left with a familiar final four, with probably only Spain over the Netherlands being the majority of people’s pick a month ago.

In an expected machine-like fashion the Germans beat France on Friday, the French going out with not even a whimper in a disappointing game.

Brazil’s win over Colombia came at a gigantic cost and the loss of Nemar is a huge hole in the tournament and with Thiago Silva suspended it must have dampened a nation’s jubilation.

imageThe South American clash ended with a frantic finish after James Rodriguez scored from the spot and it was lovely to see the respect the two sets of players had for each other at the finish, the game and admiration in direct contrast on both counts to the Germans and French.

The Belgian’s also go home after meeting expectation of a quarter final finish. If Wilmots can convert this collection of talent into a team (an age old Dutch problem), then they will make quite an impression in France in two years.

Meanwhile Argentina are a rather average team with an outstanding individual. It’s hard to imagine that this is the first Argentina appearance at World Cup semi final since 1990. Like Maradona then, Messi will ice his legend if he can lead them to victory.

An all South American final will have the continent and everyone outside of Germany and Holland in raptures, hopefully the journey to Rio next Sunday has more twists and turns left in it.

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