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Dirty Tackle

Van Gaal's decision to change goalkeepers for Costa Rica shootout proves to be genius

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Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal is the all-knowing master of the universe.

After 120 minutes of scorelessness and penalties moments away in the Netherlands' quarterfinal against Costa Rica, Van Gaal decided to set fire to the earth and substitute starting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul, who had played exactly zero minutes in the tournament to that point. It was the kind of move only a man who shows his testicles to his players just to prove a point (something he has done in real life) would actually try. And it worked.

[Related: Netherlands needs penalty kicks to advance past stubborn Costa Rica]

As professional commentators and spectators alike tried to explain the decision with claims that Cillessen has never saved a penalty in his career and that Krul being two inches taller made him the better option, Krul entered the match at the very end of extra time. The Dutch only had one win in five previous shootouts, but no one told their penalty takers because they scored on each attempt with clinical perfection. Krul, meanwhile, proved Van Gaal's supernatural vision by diving the right way on all of Costa Rica's penalties and saving two of them. This after Los Ticos beat Greece in a round of 16 shootout by going five for five with goalkeeper Keylor Navas saving an effort from Theofanis Gekas. 

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(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

So that's what finally ended Costa Rica's magical and fearless run into the unknown waters of the World Cup's final rounds. Louis van Gaal knowing that Tim Krul was secretly a penalty kick swallowing black hole and then Krul proving him 100 percent correct.

[Slideshow: All the goals of the 2014 World Cup]

According to Opta, Krul saved as many penalties in this shootout (two in five faced) as he had in his 20 previous penalties faced in the Premier League. Either this was some kind of Dutch sorcery or the mere change of one skilled goalkeeper for another proved to be an effective mind game that psyched out Costa Rica's penalty takers. Or maybe it was a bit of both. At this point, you should assume that Van Gaal knows all of your internet passwords.

The Netherlands will now face Argentina in the semifinals and after this, it's difficult to predict what other tricks Van Gaal will pull out. Defenders walking on their hands? Players wearing their kits backwards? Arjen Robben staying on his feet? We cannot know what systematic madness he has in store next. We can only plead for mercy. 

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(Getty)

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