Last night we witnessed a massacre… A massacre shown live on TV that will go down forever in football history. I called Germany to go through and thought the missing Neymar and Thiago Silva would have an impact but never expected 7-1 to happen! We’ve had a look at some drubbing from World Cup history that will make Brazil feel better but something that will hurt is if fierce rivals Argentina make it to the final tonight. Netherlands are the team standing in the Argentinians way!
Netherlands have perhaps surprised some people by the way they keep winning games at this tournament. Lets begin at the beginning, they thumped defending champions Spain 5-1 in some style in the opening game of Group B. Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben were untouchable with a brace each and Stefan de Vrij grabbed one too. They then moved on to beat Australia 3-2 in a cracker and finish with 9/9 points as Chile were seen off 2-0. A late showing defeated Mexico 2-1 in the last 16 but it took penalties to reach the semis as Costa Rica held firm at 0-0 after 120 minutes.
Netherlands were dealt a blow when Ron Vlaar of Aston Villa was ruled out of this clash with a knee injury and Leroy Fer looks doubtful. The biggest problem though will be if Robin Van Persie is unfit after his stomach illness. Louis Van Gaal says he will not risk him and after training alone tuesday it does not look hopeful for the Manchester United man. Nigel De Jong is expected to return from a groin injury.
It will remain to be seen how the Dutch play, Louis Van Gaal has shown himself to be something of a tactical genius and that includes subbing number 1 goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul of Newcastle United for the penalty shootout. Netherlands had lost 4 of the their 6 World Cup shoot-outs but Krul made 2 saves to take Netherlands to a third Semi in 4 World Cups. They have also had 7 different goal scorers this campaign, more than any other side, this should bode well if Van Persie doesn’t play.
People have talked and talked about how Lionel Messi must win a World Cup to be considered one of the best ever, this surely is his chance. Argentina haven’t been to a World Cup Semi-Final since they finished as runners-up to West Germany in 1990 and their side this year perhaps isn’t the strongest. They have won all 5 games so far, without needing a penalty shootout too but have at times totally relied on the magician that is Messi. In Group F they beat Bosnia 2-1, Iran 1-0, and Nigeria 3-2, before rising in extra-time to beat Switzerland 1-0 and then Belgium 1-0 in the Quarters.
Angel Di Maria, the man in form after the last 6 months of club football, has had a poor World Cup even despite his goal against Switzerland. Argentina will still be disappointed he is missing for the match tonight though after he suffered a thigh problem v Belgium. Full-back Marcus Rojo returns from suspension and Sergio Aguero should give the Argentines a boost if he plays after a thigh injury.
Argentina actually beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final in 1978 but this is the only time they have tasted victory over the Dutch in 8 previous meetings. Argentina also have a 100% Semi-Final success rate winning 4/4, Leo and company will want to keep this record going. Messi will also be demanding more of his teammates as he has carried them thus far and his nation are yet to win by more than a 1 goal margin. It will be interesting to see how they react if they should fall behind because they are yet to do so in the 2014 competition.
Prediction: Argentina have looked distinctly average at times but I would love to see them and Leo progress. I got a feeling this will be somewhat closer than last night too!! I think it’ll go to extra time but can possibly see the Dutch nicking it 1-0 if it doesn’t go to penalties.
By Gareth Thomas | July 9th, 2014