The second semi-final of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil will see Netherlands lock horns with Argentina. The match will be played at the Arena de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, June 9.
Netherlands needed a penalty shoot-out to win against a resolute Costa Rican defence in order to get into the semi-fimals while Argentina rode a solitary goal from Gonzalo Higuain against Belgium to book their place in the semis after 24 long years.
The Dutch had the majority of the possession in their battle against the Costa Ricans but failed to break them down in regulation and then additional time. It has been revealed later that the Costa Rican coach had studied the defenses of all teams which have featured in the World Cup in the last 24 years and had incorporated the same tactics in order to succeed in Brazil.
That ploy nearly paid off as the Netherlands were only able to defeat them on penalties as the Ticos became the first side in World Cup finals history to have gone home without losing any of their matches in regulation or extra time.
However, it was Louis Van Gaal who hogged the limelight with his decision to bring on Tim Krul at goal seconds before the final whistle. Although Krul had only managed to save two out of the 20 penalties that he had come up against in the Premier League, the big man became a penalty specialist overnight as his heroics helped the Oranje into the semis.
Argentina were the better side on the pitch in their match against the Belgians and could have had a few goals more with some more luck and better finishing. The man who scored the decider on eight minutes missed a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 later on in the game while Lionel Messi showed shades of his brilliance with the ball on the occasion.
While there had been some rumblings about the state of their defence going into the tournament, Alejandro Sabella’s team has in part done their job at the back although it could be said that they had had their fair share of luck as well. In their defense, teams do need a bit of luck going their way in a tournament of this magnitude if they are to go all the way.
Netherlands will be looking to neutralize the threat posed by Lionel Messi to start with and their five-man defence will also have to be at their best against an Argentine outfit that boasts some of the biggest talents in attack.
The likes of Gonzalo Higuain will create opportunities if they are allowed any space at all and Stefan De Vrij and co. will need to be on guard. Of course, the injury to Angel di Maria and his subsequent ruling out means the Dutch have one less player to worry about.
The Dutch possess some brilliant attackers of their own as well and the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and skipper Robin van Persie will keep the Argentines occupied at the back. Robben in particular will be the biggest threat with his pace and penetration while van Persie is clearly one of the best forwards in world football now.
Argentina’s game plan will be different from the games against Switzerland and Belgium and Sabella will recognize that the South Americans are up against a far better equipped opposition in Netherlands.
While he is expected to do some tinkering with his team, one suspects that they will continue in the same system and formation. Javier Mascherano will play an important role on Wednesday as the two teams go into a match which is expected to be a tactical battle between two fine teams. Both teams kept clean sheets in their low scoring quarter final wins and so put your money on this being another low scoring affair by backing under 2.5 goals with BetVictor.
Back Under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes at 1.57 with (BetVictor)
Back the draw at 3.2 with bet365