Netherlands v Argentina Preview

Semi-Final | Wednesday 09 July | Arena Corinthians, São Paulo | 22:00




As this enormous World Cup semi-final beckons, it is hard to accurately measure the true strength of these relative sides.

Both hardly seem to possess the vintage combinations of Maradona or Cruyff, but have stumbled across effective systems that have seem them navigate perilous World Cup journeys.

The Dutch are aiming to reach their fourth World Cup final, harnessing the prodigious dribbling skills of Arjen Robben in a counterattacking style that just scraped past lowly Costa Rica in the quarters.

Messi’s Argentina have started to orchestrate a more rounded game plan, one that legislates for the idiosyncratic magic of Messi and the tough grind of a World Cup knockout game. This should be an extremely tight, potentially cagey encounter.  

To Win (90mins)
Netherlands 21/10
Draw 22/10
Argentina 27/20

NETHERLANDS

Louis Van Gaal has described the Oranje as a hard working side as opposed to a great one. To be perfectly honest, they should have buried Costa Rica on numerous occasions.

It would have been something of a travesty if the Central American side had advanced through to the semis.

Arjen Robben was incandescent on the right hand touchline, constantly beating opponents whilst incurring the scorn of armchair pundits the whole world around.

Van Persie has looked strangely subdued in the wake of the Spanish massacre, while Sneijder has slowly worked his way into something that resembles the form he had at Inter under Mourinho.

Robben will definitely attack Rojo, while I expect Van Gaal to keep faith in his central defensive trio.

In many ways it will work best against Messi, denying the space through the middle that allows him to snipe at the heart of a side.

Martins Indi, de Vrij and Vlaar will need to rely on Blind and Wijnaldum to cover their collective effort in the heart of proceedings.

Depay and Kuyt will patrol the touchlines, hoping to set up those swift counter-attacking opportunities for Van Persie and Robben.

ARGENTINA

Reaching their first semi-final since 1990, Argentina look to have finally exorcised the titanic spectre of Diego Maradona, redefining perceptions of Argentinean football along the way.

Lionel Messi is the new pantomime hero, controlling games with his virtuosic close control and shocks of acceleration.

But their victory over Belgium showed another facet of this side, a wholly realised team performance that relied less on Messi’s brilliance than sheer tenacity and hard work.

Angel DiMaria has a thigh strain that he is trying to shake, while Aguero remains sidelined with injury.

Higuain’s return to goalscoring form has come at the perfect time for a side that was starting to become overly dependent on the excess of Messi.

Lavezzi was much improved against Belgium, which probably had lots to do with the slight tactical alteration made just behind the attacking midfield.

Biglia was included ahead of Gago, partnering Mascherano in a solid screening wall in front of the back four.

Manchester City’s embattled central defender Martin Demichelis was immense and will likely partner Garay once again in the heart of defence.

The Netherlands will pose a different kind of test for Argentina, as the Dutch are probably more dangerous on the counterattack than a Belgian side that required retention of possession.

Zabaleta and Rojo will need to keep their advances continually checked with the threats of Robben and Depay to consider.

Betting PredictionARGENTINA 27/20
Argentina should be able to keep more possession than Costa Rica, while denying the Dutch the quick counter-attacking space that they enjoyed in the earlier matches. Biglia and Mascherano should keep Sneijder quiet while Robben and Messi conduct their own personal duel to see who can be the most influential. Higuain has started to improve while Van Persie has looked jaded, as if he is carrying a slight knock (surprise, surprise). Argentina looks a slightly better all around unit that may not need the genius of Messi.  But expect it.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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