A spot in the World Cup finals at the Maracana stadium awaits the winners of Argentina V Netherlands battle. Argentina have been inspired by Lionel Messi’s brilliance in this World Cup. For the first time since breaking into the international scene, the Argentine captain looked like a worthy successor to Maradona. Apart from his club form, the Barcelona player looked a mere shadow in Argentina colours before this tournament. Now the scenario has changed, Messi has light up the carnival and the Argentines are riding on his brilliance.

Netherlands on the other hand are a brilliant team set up by Louis Van Gaal. Apart from the individual brilliance of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, the Dutch has shown passion and team spirit to reach thus far. Finalists in the last World Cup are determined to go one step better this time, and there are only two hurdles remains in their way. Their dreams of equaling or bettering last World Cup performance is only possible if they can get the better of Argentina in FIFA 2014 World Cup finals. Argentina and Netherlands are just one step away from booking a date in Maracana and that step can be taken by getting the better of these battles on the pitch.

Gonzalo Higuain v Stefan De Vrij

Apart from Lionel Messi all the other Argentina striker had faltered till the last match. Gonzalo Higuain made amends in the quarter finals against Belgium by scoring a goal, and it eventually eased the pressure on Argentina captain. After firing blank in first 4 matches, Higuain was looking like a lost case in this World Cup, but the early goal against Belgium brought confidence back to former Real Madrid striker. He put on a man of the match display in the quarter finals to book a spot in the semi finals.

Against an inform Gonzalo Higuain, Netherlands will be assigning their inform defender Stefan De Vrij. Manchester United target Stefan De Vrij, has ably marshaled the Netherlands defence along with Ron Vlaar. When everyone keeps their eyes on Argentina captain, it will be the responsibility of Stefan de Vrij to make sure that Gonzalo Higuain remains in his pockets.

Lionel Messi v Daley Blind

Argentina’s number 10 has been doing every thing in this World Cup. Scoring and creating goals has been his forte, but in the quarter finals he was seen putting the tackles and committing the fouls in-order to prevent the Belgium attacks. Lionel Messi’s reputation as an attacking player helped him to evade Referees pockets in last match. The football World are scrutinizing each and every action by the Argentina play maker, and he needs to raise up to the occasion to fulfill the expectations.

Netherlands re-adjusted their system in-order to cope up with the absence of Nigel De Jong. In the anchor man role LVG has trusted Daley Blind to stem the opposition attacks and to initiate and unleash Netherlands forwards. Daley Blind has 3 assists to his name already, and can be quite handful if given the time and space on the ball. Marking Lionel Messi will be a tedious task, but the Argentine is a lazy player when it comes to defending and that is where Daley Blind can create danger.

Martin Demichelis v Arjen Robben

One of the most experienced defenders in the Argentina set up – Martin Demichelis was re-instated to the starting line-up to tackle the Belgium threat in the last match. Manchester City defender did his job admirably well by organizing the defence and preventing the Belgium attacks. His lack of pace is an area of concern, but the veteran defenders positioning and game awareness more than makes up for it.

Netherlands have unleashed the pace and trickery of Arjen Robben in a forward position at this World Cup. Bayern Munich winger has played more as a striker than a winger in Brazil World Cup and he is expected to occupy the same role against Argentina as well. In that case, Martin Demichelis will be up against the fast and furious Arjen Robben. If Demichelis fails to read the threat and nips it in bud, then Robben is going to break away with the ball and the match.

The sub plots in this match between Argentina and Netherlands are interesting. Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben are the inform players in action, but there are another 10 players on each side trying to make their mark in this game. It might be a single goal which is going to book a spot in the World Cup finals, and the path to that goal might be born in one of these battles. Who will hold their nerves and play the trump card in a better way – Argentina or Netherlands?

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