Being the overwhelming favourites is sometimes not easy – the expectations will only rise and with it the pressure and it will be up to the Netherlands to overcome those hurdles when they take on nothing-to-lose-and-only-history-to-make Costa Rica in their 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals in Salvador on Saturday.
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The final quarterfinal is set for a 5 pm local time (1.30 am IST, 9 pm BST, 4 pm ET) start with live coverage on Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Viewers in the US can catch the action on ESPN and ABC, with the option to live stream the game HERE or HERE. UK viewers can catch the action in BBC and ITV while the matches can also be live streamed HERE or HERE. Catch the game in Australia HERE, while South Africa viewers can do so HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can live stream the match HERE.
Holland are only two wins away from making their second straight World Cup final, an achievement which would be pretty impressive, but Van Gaal and his band of counter-attacking men will do well not to think too far ahead – Costa Rica have shown, time and again, they have plenty of quality in them, and if you take your eyes of the ball, they will punish you.
While the majority view this game as the mighty Dutch against the tiny Costa Rica, Van Gaal tried to temper those expectations by insisting his Holland side are one of the unfancied teams as well.
"We're not a great team, but a team which is difficult to beat," Van Gaal said. "So far we have shown that and I hope we can continue that up to and including the final. That Costa Rica are considered to be a less strong team, that is by the media. That is not our words, we are not saying that.
"Some of our younger players have just as little experience as the Costa Ricans. I am positive there will be no underestimating Costa Rica by my players. To get as far as they can in this tournament is what they want to achieve. They believe that this is the highest podium in world football and they are seeking to stand on it. They won't be underestimating any opponent."
While Holland have been in the quarterfinals of the World Cup multiple times, this is the first for Costa Rica, and there is a chance that the Central Americans might get overawed by the occasion. Costa Rica were given a stiff test by Greece in their last 16 match, having to fight their way into the penalty shootout with ten men, before eventually prevailing. But it was nowhere near as difficult as it might have been had they run into a team of Holland's stature in the round of 16.
Coach Jorge Luis Pinto will be aware of the increase in quality, but having beaten the likes of Uruguay and Italy already at this FIFA World Cup 2014, his team will also be full of confidence in their ability to cause another massive upset.
"Of course I respect them, but we have played against England, Italy, and even Greece is a very difficult team," Pinto said. "We are never scared, we respect them but we will try to control them."
An aspect working in Holland's favour, though, will be the ground -- the Arena Fonte Nova was the venue of their opening match at this World Cup, that still-cannot-believe-it 5-1 thumping of world champions Spain, a result which went a long way in building the sort of belief in this Oranje side that they are good enough to go all the way and win the title.
"That is the biggest difference since we beat Spain. I've really seen the confidence grow as we finished top of our group," the always-confident Van Gaal added. "Mine is a team that will be fighting to stay in contention until the last minute at this World Cup and you will see the evidence of that in our next three matches ... but that you already knew," he added with a smile and wink.
Team news: Netherlands: Midfield enforcer Nigel De Jong has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a groin injury picked up in the last game, while Wesley Sneijder, the man who scored the all-important equaliser to spark that amazing comeback against Mexico, is a slight doubt with a back problem.
Costa Rica: Pinto will hope his supreme goalkeeper Keylor Navas is 100 percent fit after missing training earlier this week with a shoulder problem, while the coach also has some thinking to do in defence with Oscar Duarte suspended and Roy Miller injured.
Key men: Netherlands: Arjen Robben and his outstanding ability to run with the ball in blinding speed irrespective of the time of game will again be crucial, but the forward will also be under heavy scrutiny after admitting to diving in the win over Mexico. "We are really worried about Robben's diving," Pinto 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."
Costa Rica: Bryan Ruiz has scored two vital goals already, and his team will look to the skipper again, while Joel Campbell will also be keen to score after failing to find the back of the net since the opening win over Uruguay.
Expected lineups: Netherlands: Cillessen; Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi; Janmaat, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Blind, Kuyt; Robben, Van Persie.
Costa Rica: Navas; Gamboa, Acosta, Gonzalez, Umana, Diaz; Ruiz, Borges, Tejeda, Bolanos; Campbell.
Prediction: 2-0 to Netherlands