World Cup semi-final number two takes place in Sao Paolo tonight, as two more giants of World football battle it out for a place in the final. Here, we take a look at where the game is likely to be decided.
Road to the semi-final
Netherlands needed penalties to edge past a determined Costa Rica in the last eight, with Tim Krul the eventual hero after saving two spot kicks. The 5-1 demolition of Spain remains the highlight for Louis van Gaal’s team, who topped Group B before a late comeback win over Mexico in the second round.
Gonzalo Higuain’s early strike was enough for Argentina to see off Belgium in the quarter-finals after Angel di Maria’s last gasp injury-time winner despatched Switzerland in the second round. They progressed as winners of Group F with minimal fuss, winning all three of their group games.
Netherlands have had the better of Argentina in the past, winning four of the eight previous meetings between the two sides. Argentina’s only ever win over their next opponents came back in the 1978 World Cup final.
The two sides last met at the 2006 World Cup with the game ending in a goalless draw.
04 Martins Indi
03 de Vrij
• Argentina are making their first semi-final appearance since 1990.
• They have won all four of their previous semi-final appearances.
• Argentina have won every game at this year's tournament by a single goal and are yet to fall behind in any game.
• Netherlands are appearing in their third semi-final in the last four World Cups.
• Van Gaal’s men are the only team to concede more than one penalty at the tournament.
• Netherlands' seven different goalscorers is the most of any team in the competition.
These two sides are difficult to split on paper with an array of talent in both line-ups, although the injuries in the Dutch camp could prove decisive.
Robin van Persie (stomach) could prove a massive miss if he does not play, whilst Nigel De Jong (groin) is another who looks likely to lose his fitness battle.
While Di Maria (thigh) will not be available for he Argentines, Sergio Aguero provides a timely boost and the attacking prospects of Lionel Messi, Higuain, Aguero and Ezequiel Lavezzi should be enough to see them over the line.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.