Holland Vs. Argentina: Because This Game Can't Be A Lopsided Affair (Right?)

messi di maria 2014 world cup

By Carden Hedelt / @cheedelt

Holland and Argentina are playing for the other spot in the World Cup Final against Germany, who unceremoniously laid a 7-1 mollywhopping on host country Brazil, their first loss on Brazilian soil in decades. The loser gets a spot in the third-place match against Brazil.

I can guarantee that this game won't end 7-1.

OK, I can't guarantee it. But it almost certainly won't end 7-1.

Holland and Argentina are two closely matched teams with some doubts about who will be able to play. At any rate, we have a very exciting game on our hands.


Holland's top striker missed training yesterday with "stomach problems" according to reports from the Dutch camp. It's a blow to the team, who would have to rely on the very competent Klaas-Jan Huntelaar if Robin Van Persie can't start for the Oranje.

Throughout this tournament, Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal has made a series of good coaching decisions, from substituting goalies for the shootout against Costa Rica in the quarterfinals to putting Huntelaar on late against Mexico in the first knockout round. Both substitutions paid dividends for Van Gaal, with goalkeeper Tim Krul stopping two penalty kicks against Costa Rica and Huntelaar scoring a goal and setting up another. The Dutch won both games.

Van Persie might not be able to give a full 90 minutes against Argentina, but he might be ready to be an incredible impact sub.

We'll find out whether Van Persie can go or not soon. Van Gaal looks to have as good a beat on his team as any manager in this World Cup.

It'd be a shame for a stomach bug to keep someone capable of a goal like that from playing, and it'd be a surprise if he didn't play some kind of role in this game.


While Van Persie is an incredibly valuable weapon for the Dutch, Arjen Robben is what makes the Oranje go.

He's as quick as anyone down the right and a threat to any goalkeeper when he cuts in from the side onto his favored left foot. It's a move that, even though defenders know it's likely, is hard to stop.

That's because he's so fast.

Show him too much of the sideline and he'll beat just about any defender. Play him head-up and he can do either, depending on what he sees in front of him. He already has three goals and an assist to his name this World Cup.

He's also been one of the more controversial players in this World Cup, copping to diving against Mexico to earn a penalty.

It was a foul, but he did fling himself to the ground pretty dramatically.

Call it what you like: playing to the referee or simply drawing attention to a foul the ref might have otherwise missed. He's a threat to defenders and possesses both the skill and speed to make them look silly.


Lionel Messi is the first- or second-best player in the world no matter how you slice it, with Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal being the only one who can claim either spot. He's wily and cunning, as quick as anyone on the first step and tough as hell to stop once he gets rolling. Unlike Robben, he's not prone to going to the ground under duress from defenders.

He is a joy to watch and has improved on his international goalscoring record with four goals and an assist in the World Cup.

The Dutch will have to hope that Nigel De Jong is fully fit for the game because he's their best counter to Messi from the midfield.

Messi is a handful for any player, much less one who is carrying an injury. Whether or not De Jong will play is still up in the air. He participated in warmups during training with the Dutch team, but like Van Persie, only Van Gaal and the Dutch training staff know whether or not he's ready to go.

If he's not, Daley Blind will likely have to move up from a more defensive role to shield the heart of the Dutch defense from Messi. Or it could be Jonathan de Guzman who fills that role.

Messi is the focal point of the Argentinian offense. Don't stop him, and you'll get rolled.


Messi will be looking to distribute to a few seriously lethal strikers in Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

Aguero, when fit (which is another question mark going into this game), is as good a pure striker as there is right now. Playing for Manchester City in the English Premier League, he's scored tons of goals. He hasn't scored any so far this tournament, bu then again, he only was featured in the first three games, sitting out against Switzerland and Belgium due to injury.

Higuain, on the other hand, has a goal and an assist through five games. That production is a bit of a drop-off from his usual form, with 21 goals in 41 appearances for Argentina to his name.

With two very good strikers and Messi, it's fair to say that this Argentina team has not lived up to its full offensive potential thus far in the tournament. It took a late goal from Messi to beat Iran in the group stage, and only twice in five games has Argentina scored more than one goal.

But they've won every game. If Higuain and Aguero (if he plays) can kick on in this game, Argentina could easily send Holland packing.


There are a lot of "ifs" going into this game. Van Persie and De Jong might play, or they might not. Aguero might play, or he might not. That's two world-class strikers and the Dutch team's counter to one of the two best players in the world. Argentina has the slightly better squad from top to bottom, but Van Gaal has proven to be the best manager in the tournament thus far when you look at substitutions and tactics. The game could go any way, which is why you have to drop everything you're doing to go watch.

So, with as little confidence as possible and for purely selfish reasons, this game ends 2-1 to the Dutch. That'd set up a Germany-Holland final.

germany vs holland

Those two countries do not like each other (see: World War II).

And it'd make the final that much better.

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