Genius or lucky, it doesn’t matter. Louis van Gaal rolled the dice on Tim Krul to replace Jasper Cillessen before the penalty shootout in the World Cup quarterfinal against Costa Rica, and came out as the winner thanks to that decision.

The bottom line: Netherlands are in the semifinals. Tim Krul spent a few seconds on the pitch as a “warmup” to the penalty shootout, and then stopped two of Costa Rica’s four kicks, diving to the right place every time.

There are two ways of handling the business of being a goalkeeper during a shootout: Trying to guess where your opponent will place his shot, or simply reacting to the shot itself. It might be more difficult and “wastes” time on reading & reacting to the situation, but because players often don’t take perfect penalties that land just in the corner, it might be the better approach.

This wasn’t a curse broken, but it does present something of a change to the unlucky Dutch team, that has been to three World Cup finals and has been through two famous shootouts – against Brazil in 1998 and vs Italy in 2000, coming out with their hand on the bottom as well.

Tim Krul, Louis van Gaal

The best thing about revealing this secret weapon of Tim Krul? There’s no way to prepare for him. If the matches do go that way, which only by luck and the ability of Keylor Navas it didn’t end in 90 minutes, knowing Tim Krul is coming isn’t going to help the shooters that have to face him.

Mind Games

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