Netherlands v Argentina – Down to the Semis

It’s the Netherlands v Argentina in what should be a cracking World Cup semi final at the Arena de Sao Paulo this Wednesday night. These two sides look very closely matched on what they have achieved in the tournament thus far, and the bookies are struggling to split them, with Argentina just slight favourites to progress to the 2014 World Cup Final. Although Argentina could only manage the one goal against Belgium in the quarters, the score line did not tell the full story. Argentina were very comfortable during the ninety minutes and should come into this encounter with the Netherlands relatively fresh. The Dutch on the other hand came through a real battle with Costa Rica on Saturday evening and they required some real gamesmanship from goalkeeper Tim Krull to secure victory. Both sides have found a way to win when required so far and while it hasn’t always been pretty, it is getting through that counts. I’m not expecting a goal-fest in Sao Paulo but we are in for a very competitive battle between two very capable international teams.

The Netherlands began the 2014 World Cup in the best possible manner, defeating the reigning champions Spain by five goals to one. Manager Luis van Gaal has showed exactly what a superb coach he is with some excellent decision making throughout his side’s campaign thus far and on this evidence, it looks like Manchester United have made a great move in securing his services for the forthcoming Premier League season. Robin van Persie has put an indifferent domestic campaign at United behind him in Brazil and has played a crucial role in Netherlands’ progression through the tournament. While his contribution has waned slightly during their last couple of matches, Van Persie’s clinical finishing in front of goal could potentially be the difference maker when it comes to the Dutch winning this prestigious trophy.

There was a huge amount of pressure of Argentina captain Lionel Messi coming into the 2014 World Cup. His national side are yet to achieve any significant success during the Messi era and Barcelona’s star man has arguably underachieved during the major international tournaments in which he has competed so far in his career. During this tournament, Messi has really stepped up to the plate and has almost single handily carried Argentina to victory in some of their games. Not only has his return of four goals seen Messi amongst the leading scorers in the competition, his all round contribution has also been of the highest order. Opposition managers have clearly been targeting Messi with special game plans, but the skilful Ballon d’Or winner has still managed to find a way of creating opportunities for both himself and team mates. One paper, this looks like the toughest match of the World Cup to call so far. While I personally think the Netherlands may just edge the game, it really could go either way and it would be no surprise to see things head into extra time on Wednesday night.

September 15, 2015: • No Comments

Leave a Reply