Sao Paulo: When Costa Rica faced Uruguay on June 14 in its first match of the World Cup, it was not so much a case of David versus Goliath but rather David versus David. This time fortune favored the Central Americans: Against all expectation - they had never beaten Uruguay, the two-time Cup winners - the Costa Ricans won, 3-1.
But if ever there were a country from which La Sele (the Costa Rican national team), which will face the Netherlands in the quarterfinals Saturday, might learn how to punch above its weight it is from plucky little Uruguay.
The similarities between both countries are not confined to the playing field. With populations under 5 million, Costa Rica and Uruguay pride themselves on democratic traditions that, at times, have been at odds with neighboring countries. Political stability and sporting prowess have tended to further a sense of national exceptionalism.