Preview

World Cup pre-game: Netherlands vs. Argentina

Two teams with different styles meet in Wednesday's FIFA World Cup semifinal, as the Netherlands face Argentina. Coverage begins on CBC at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Winner faces Germany in Sunday's final

Arjen Robben, left, for the Netherlands and Argentina's Lionel Messi have been two of the most exciting players to watch at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. (Getty)

Netherlands vs. Argentina

  • 4 p.m. ET, Wednesday, July 9 
  • CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup

What’s at stake

Two different styles collide as Europe meets South America in Sao Paulo. The Group B and F winners fight it out here for the right to play against Germany for the World Cup trophy on Sunday, July 13 in Rio.

The Netherlands leads the head-to-head record with four wins, three draws, and one loss. A memorable chapter in that history came in the 1998 World Cup quarter-finals, with Dennis Bergkamp scoring one of the most famous World Cup goals in a 2-1 victory over Argentina.

Twenty years earlier Argentina had beaten the Netherlands 3-1 in the 1978 World Cup final.

Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong remains out of the tournament with a groin injury. Late on Tuesday, it was reported that Dutch captain Robin van Persie could also miss the match with a stomach illness.

Angel di Maria of Argentina will also miss this match due to injury. However, fellow forward Sergio Aguero is now ready to play again after recovering from his injury.

Impact players

Netherlands: Wesley Sneijder. He has only one goal — a cracker against Mexico — and Van Persie and Robben get a lot of the attention in Brazil. But Sneijder has been solid in supporting his team, and this could be his breakout match.

Argentina: Lionel Messi. He carries this team in almost every way. And he desperately wants to carry that trophy at the end of the tournament.

What to watch for

With Messi and Robben playing, you can expect a lot of dribbling. Each are masters in the soft touch at a high pace.

Netherlands defender Bruno Martins Indi was succinct when speaking to Dutch website www.nu.nl about his team’s task: "We have to cut the supply line to Messi."

The Dutch had flashes of brilliance against Costa Rica. But they also looked tired. Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, a strategic and tactical genius, will expect much more out of his team this time around.

Argentina will seek to penetrate the formidable Dutch 5-3-2 formation in trying to put their opponents on the back heel.

Look for Argentina to send in many long crosses.

They said it

“In terms of team spirit and togetherness, this is the best group I've worked with.” — Dutch manager Louis van Gaal speaking to FIFA.com.

“There is a team that supports Messi, that makes him stronger, that makes him feel well. Four years ago, he was criticized. Now we say we greatly depend on Messi. It is not easy.” — Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella speaking to media about his top player.

The big number

17.4 — The average number of goal attempts per match by Argentina, highest of the four semifinalists.

Obligatory fun fact

A Dutch superfan had a head shot of Van Gaal tattooed on his back. This same fan then had an image of Van Persie’s now-famous flying header tattooed just below Van Gaal. It’s all a bit creepy.

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