The Netherlands, who will be eyeing their fourth final, have surprised many by reaching the last four with a team from which the expectation was moderate. A number of less-known names in the squad have made big impact in the tournament as the Dutch began their journey with a 5-1 decimation of holders Spain in their opening game.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal has earned praise for his smart strategic thinking. His move to bring in Tim Krul to replace first goalkeeper Jasper Cillesen in the penalty shoot-outs against Costa Rica in the quarterfinal had stunned many. Cillesen is set to start the match against Argentina in the semi-final. The strong reserve bench of the Dutch camp also made up for the losses of players like Kevin Strootman, Stijn Schaars and Nigel De Jong.
Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella, however, has not much luxury in this regard. Angel Di Maria, who scored the late winner against Switzerland in the Round of 16, will miss out the key tie due to a thigh strain. Sergio Aguera is set to return after a leg injury while Marcos Rojo is certain to start ahead of Jose Maria Basanta. Martin Demichelis could get the nod ahead of Federico Fernandez at the back.
However, all eyes will be on Messi who has scored fifty per cent of Argentina's goals in this World Cup.
Holland have beaten Argentina twice in a WC as against Argentina's one win
Argentina are playing in the semifinals after 24 years while the Netherlands are playing their second successive semi-final in as many World Cups. Aregntina have won all their three semi-finals played in the World Cup (1978 edition had no semi-final) with their best win registered against the USA in 1930 (6-1). The Dutch have played in four semifinals so far with three wins and one loss.
Argentina and the Netherlands have met four times in the World Cup finals with the latter winning twice. One game was drawn. Argentina's only victory against the Dutch in the World Cup came in the 1978 final when they won it 3-1. In fact, it is their only overall win against the Dutch (four losses and three draws). The last time these two teams had met was in the quarterfinal of the 1998 edition in France. The Netherlands won that tie 2-1.