Netherlands vs Argentina - World Cup preview and team news
Three-time runners-up the Netherlands take on their 1978 conquerors Argentina for the right to face Germany in Sunday’s World Cup final.
The Arena de Sao Paulo is poised for what will surely be a closer affair than Tuesday’s semi-final, where Brazil were taken apart dramatically by Joachim Low’s side in front of the watching eyes of millions across the globe.
The atmosphere will be more sombre around the country, but the Brazilian people will be right behind the Netherlands here. They were not expected to get this far at the beginning of the tournament, and they have scraped through their two knockout matches so far, but lady luck has continued to smile on manager Louis van Gaal.
His premeditated decision to bring Tim Krul on for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica seemed to work, on a night where they were hugely frustrated by the organised Central Americans. They may feel that their more fancied opponents here could be easier to break down than Costa Rica.
While justifying their status as one of the favourites by reaching the last four, Argentina have rarely caught the eye, except the odd moment of inspiration. That was what took them past Belgium on Saturday as Gonzalo Higuain’s instinctive effort caught the defence off-guard, while Marc Wilmots’ men delivered a toothless display, failing to create any meaningful chances.
It remains to be seen how the Argentines can cope with the pace of Arjen Robben and the vision of Wesley Sneijder, but they will be wary after looking far from convincing at the back in previous outings. Their attacking options are sensational, however, and one moment could be all it takes to decide this semi-final.
The Netherlands have doubts over striker Robin van Persie due to illness. Should he be unavailable, Klaas Jan Huntelaar may take his place. Jasper Cillessen will be in goal, while Nigel De Jong could return earlier than expected from a groin injury.
Winger Angel Di Maria misses out for Argentina, who welcome back Sergio Aguero and Marcos Rojo from injury and suspension respectively.
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