FIFA Preview: Will Netherlands Beat Argentina to Make it an all Euro-Affair?
Argentina and Holland fight it out for a final date with Germany on Sunday.
On July 9th, Argentina will celebrate its 198th birthday. As the Argentines celebrate their Independence Day, there is no doubt that the outcome of the World Cup semifinals will have a huge role to play and a loss could mean that their spirits could be dampened when they rejoice the glory achieved by their nation two centuries back.
Football is one of the greatest things to have happened to this nation since its inception. At this point, they very well know of their neighbour’s humiliating loss to a European nation. They will face a similar European rival in Netherlands, who ripped apart the defending champions, Spain, not so long ago.
Brazil’s loss against Germany showed what happens if you fail to act as a unit, for football is not a one man’s game. Argentina’s over dependence on Messi can both be a boon and a bane. In the initial four matches, Messi showed the other teams what he is capable of if you get complacent about him even for a moment.
In the last two matches, Messi had defenders breathing down his neck throughout but he did find a way to provide assists to his unmarked colleagues in the field. We saw on both matches against Switzerland and Belgium how Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain scored winners. Higuain has found form but another in form player Di Maria will be missing out for the big match.
For the Dutch, the attacking trio of Robbin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder have been wrecking havoc for the other teams. The Dutch would have been disappointed on not capitalizing on the wealth of opportunities they had created for themselves.
The Dutch have a strong bench, and their manager, Van Gaal’s mastermind must have done all kinds of possible calculations that are needed before a big match. He is a man with ideas, as we saw his unconventional move of substituting a goalkeeper at the dying stages of the match against Costa Rica, which was what made a huge difference at the end.
The Argentines will look to improve their World Cup records against Netherlands as they have not defeated the Dutch ever on the big stage.
Weather was being considered a big factor for the visiting European teams, but as we saw in the last match, the weather has been relatively cooler and it hardly affected the performance of the German team.
All said and done, both the teams have a lot to lose going into the semis. The Dutch would be looking to avenge their defeat in the last World Cup finals eventually after four years. The Argentines are the last contenders from the hosting continent, and as they come out on the pitch on their auspicious day, it would have not only their citizens but also the whole continent’s hope pinned on them.
After all, it has been more than a decade since any Latin American team made it to the finals of a World Cup.
-Sayan Ganguly and Sumanth Avian
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