Louis van Gaal led Dutch side meet a rather scrappy Argentina who have been heavily dependent on Messi’s magic. In what offers to be a juicy match between two well matched sides, it is the also the battle between the representatives of Europe and South America. It is tough to decide who’s the favourite entering this match, especially as both teams have the ability to etch out results from a game while both the defences, though average on paper, have really stepped up to help their world class forwards. Who will show the grit and resilience to fight out to their ability and get a ticket to the final?
Netherlands Team News: Key Players and Strategy
Netherlands have played with a set of three centre backs and two complimentary box to box wing backs. They have an injury issue with Nigel De Jong who has been a key figure as a destroying midfielder for them, but Georginio Wijnaldum has stepped up with the energy, work rate and passing in the middle for the Dutch.
Captain Robin van Persie has had a good world cup so far, despite being below his usual influencial standards in a couple of matches especially against work horses Mexico and Costa Rica. His finishing and leadership will be two key attributes that would be very important for Netherlands’ chances of beating Argentina and entering their second world cup final in consecutive tournaments.
Talismanic winger Arjen Robben has been their best player so far, yet he has come under heavy criticism for simulation and exaggerating small fouls. Despite such controversies, Robben is a very difficult player to defend against and the Dutch vice-captain, if on song, can destroy any team with his pace, trickery, stamina and shooting. Adding to the quality is star playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who is the highest capped player in the squad and is probably the most creative player in both the teams facing today. Rising star wing back Daley Blind will also be a key man to watch out for.
Argentina Team News: Key Players and Strategy
Argentina have one key injury in the form of their attacking midfielder Angel di Maria. The Real Madrid attacker has been in exceptional form for both club and country in this season and would be heavily missed in the world cup. Argentines, though are expected to get back Sergio Aguero, who may not be at his best fitness after his recent injury but still available for selection.
Captain Lionel Messi has really lit up the campaign for his country with his goals and playmaking. Argentina have been heavily dependent on him to say the least as without him, they have barely managed to score any goals. His flair, technique, pace and finishing will be the deciding factor for the Argentine team who are in the semi-finals for the first time after 1990. Messi will have to show, as usual, why he is arguably the best player in the world.
Apart from Messi, Argentina have a handful of attackers in poacher Gonzalo Higuain and striker Rodrigo Palacio while winger Ezequiel Lavezzi has also been enjoying some game-time and a decent world cup. While Aguero’s arrival is likely to be adding to the fire power in the forward areas of the pitch, Angel di Maria’s absence can hurt them. Enzo Perez is likely to play in midfield. Marcos Rojo, centre back by trade but covering as a left back, has been playing well so far, and would be back for the semi-final after his suspension in the quarter final due to two yellow cards.
Author’s Predictions: Scoreline and Teams
Netherlands: Cillessen; de Vrij, Martins Indi, Vlaar; Kuyt, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Blind; Robben, Depay, van Persie
Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo; Mascherano, Gago, Perez; Messi, Aguero, Higuain.
Predicted Scoreline: Argentina 1-1 Netherlands
They are too well-matched in terms of attack, midfield and defence along with individual team chemistry. This match has the potential to go into extra time or penalties.