World Cup Semifinals Preview, Predictions: Netherlands vs Argentina

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer 

Is Lionel Messi about to surpass Diego Maradona as the most accomplished Argentine player in history?

Many believe a World Cup triumph will lift Messi into legendary status – although he’s quite close sans the World Cup trophy. While not always shining in the world’s brightest stage, the Argentine playmaker has been everything as billed in Brazil. After scoring a goal in each of Argentina’s group matches, Messi played the incisive pass to help lift the Albilceste over Switzerland. Messi then flashed his brilliance against Belgium, drawing defenders and dancing around them or staying on his feet amongst tough tackles.

The Little Magician will be without his partner Angel Di Maria, but Argentina should still be able to cope. A more defensive posture isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the Netherlands always looking to spring counter attacks.

Louis van Gaal has continued to make the right decisions, including subbing on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar against Mexico and the most recent of bringing in Tim Krul only for the penalty shootout.

While van Gaal has also received plaudits for changing the Dutch style from Total Football to winning football, it hasn’t made the Dutch any more likable. Arjen Robben‘s diving and Krul’s antics in PKs haven’t won the Netherlands anymore fans over the course of the World Cup. However, it has earned them one round away from a second consecutive Final appearance for the oft-frustrating, sometimes brilliant Oranje.

While Messi will once again look to bring the magic, the Dutch need one of their key players to step up in a big moment. Robin van Persie continues his scoring drought after the group stages, and if the Dutch are to progress, the striker needs to rise to the occasion. If involved, he may have to do so with a reported stomach flu.

In what should be another close match in the World Cup, the Argentina-Netherlands clash could come down to another important, correct van Gaal decision against one of the top players in the world in the Argentine maestro.

Prediction: Argentina 2-1 Netherlands


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