Netherlands face two time former champions of the World Cup Argentina for a semi-final in Sau Paulo on Wednesday 9th July.
These sides faced each other in the 1978 final when Argentina secured their maiden victory in the tournament and Netherlands were consigned to defeat at the final hurdle, as they were for the third time four years ago in South Africa. Argentina have a point to prove having not reached the last four since Italia 90, while the Dutch will be determined to avoid the heartache of another near miss.
Argentina have emerged as favourites to lift the trophy and can be backed at no bigger than 6/4 with Betvictor to win this match in 90 minutes, while Netherlands are deemed to be outsiders at top price 23/10 with Bet365 to win the game and take a step towards World Cup glory.
Having thrashed 2010 champions Spain in the group phase, Netherlands may not overly fear Argentina, but will need to play to their full potential to get the right result. Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben's goals have dried up in the knockout rounds, but their influence on the game remains vital to Oranje's cause, particularly the latter's dribbling skills and movement to find space off the ball. After dominating Group B, Netherlands were faced with tough tests in the knockout rounds and had to come from behind to beat Mexico in the dying moments to set up a quarter final date with Costa Rica. As expected, the Dutch dominated possession and peppered Keylor Navas' goal, but dogged defending from the Central Americans and three shots coming off the woodwork meant the game going to extra time and penalties. Bizzarely, Louis Van Gaal opted to make a late goalkeeper switch just prior to the final whistle meaning Tim Krul would be between the sticks instead of Jasper Cillessen for the shootout. It was a decision which ultimately paid off as Krul saved twice in the 4-3 shootout win to send Netherlands into the last four. Van Gaal has made a number of big calls in this World Cup and has so far got them spot on, can the master tactician take Oranje to the final?
Still yet to hit top gear, Argentina have been grinding out the wins in Brazil and the feeling is that if it all clicks together they can go all the way. All five of their wins at this World Cup have been by a single goal and the performances of Lionel Messi have been vital to them reaching this stage. He scored four times in the group stage including two winning goals and set up Angel Di Maria deep into injury time when Argentina broke Swiss hearts in the last 16. Messi was again the catalyst for success against Belgium in the quarter finals as he spun away from two defenders and clipped a pass to Angel Di Maria who then found Gonzalo Higuain to volley home the decisive goal in a 1-0 win. The Barcelona forward was a constant thorn in the side to Belgium's defenders for the remainder of the game as they struggled to deal with his skill and trickery and a reproduction of that performance against the Dutch with some help from his teammates would surely give Argentina a decent chance of making the final.
In a tough game to call, punters will be keen to have their say in the goalscorer markets and Coral's best price of 13/2 on Robin Van Persie to open the scoring will be of interest to those fancying Netherlands to draw first blood. The same firm are quoting top price 5/1 Wesley Sneijder to score Anytime and he appears to have got his eye in after bagging the equaliser against Mexico having twice gone close to finding the net against Costa Rica only to be denied first by the post, and then the crossbar.
However, the main focus will of course be on Lionel Messi after another dazzling display against Belgium. Punter's won't get a better price than 4/1 Messi To Score First At William Hill, while his teammate Gonzalo Higuain can be backed to open the scoring at 13/2 with Bet365.
2014 World Cup Matches
Netherlands W W W W D Argentina W W W D W
2014 World Cup Goal Scorers
Robben - 3 (0 Penalties, 1 First Goalscorer)
Van Persie - 3 (0 Penalties, 1 First Goalscorer)
Depay - 2 (0 Penalties, 0 First Goalscorer)
Fer - 1 (0 Penalties, 1 First Goalscorer)
de Vrij - 1 (0 Penalties, 0 First Goalscorer)
Sneijder - 1 (0 Penalties, 0 First Goalscorer)
Huntelaar - 1 (1 Penalties, 0 First Goalscorer)
Messi – 4 (0 Penalties, 2 First Goalscorer)
Rojo – 1 (0 Penalties, 0 First Goalscorer)
Di Maria – 1 (0 Penalties, 1 First Goalscorer)
Higuain - 1 (0 Penalties, 1 First Goalscorer)
2014 Word Cup Goal Assists
Blind - 3
de Guzmán - 1
Depay - 1
Huntelaar - 1
Janmaat - 1
Higuain - 1
Lavezzi – 1
Messi - 1
Di Maria - 1
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