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FIFA World Cup 2014 Match Preview: Netherlands v/s Argentina

Today’s second semifinal brings together two of the world’s most enthralling footballing nations in a repeat of the final from the last South American World Cup in Argentina in 1978, as they battle it out to face Germany in the final.
Netherlands has confounded many people’s expectations by reaching the last four with a squad of which very little was expected. Whereas the team's reliance on a large number of Eredivisie-based players was thought to be a weakness, the impact of many of the lesser names has been a real strength in the run to the semifinals.

Coach Louis van Gaal has needed such a boost from the supporting cast too, with pre-tournament injuries to Kevin Strootman and Stijn Schaars followed by the loss of Nigel De Jong in the early moments of the last-16 clash against Mexico. Having stunned many by bringing on Tim Krul to make the winning penalty saves against Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, Van Gaal is set to hand first-choice keeper Jasper Cillessen the gloves once more against Argentina in what is likely to be an unchanged starting XI.

Van Gaal's opposite number Alejandro Sabella has no such luxury, with Angel Di Maria missing due to a thigh strain which is likely to rule him out of the rest of the tournament. While Sergio Aguero returns after a leg muscle injury, Sabella must choose whether to give Ezequiel Lavezzi a start or bring in one of Fernando Gago or Maxi Rodriguez in Di Maria’s place. Marcos Rojo’s return from suspension should see him start ahead of Jose Maria Basanta, while Federico Fernandez could again miss out in favor of Martin Demichelis at the back.

Argentina have reached their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, when they went on to finish runners-up to West Germany.

La Albiceleste have progressed from all three of their World Cup semi-finals.

These teams have met four times in the World Cup, with Netherlands winning twice and Argentina once, with one draw.

Argentina’s victory, in the 1978 final, is their only win against Netherlands in eight meetings overall (Lost-4 Drawn-3).

Argentina have lost just one of their last 16 World Cup games (Won-12 Drawn-3, not including penalty shoot-outs).

Netherlands have lost two of their 12 World Cup games against South American teams, not including penalty shoot-outs (1978 final v Argentina and 1994 quarter-final v Brazil).

10 of the Netherlands’ 12 goals in this tournament have come after half-time.

Netherlands’ last four goals in this tournament have come after the 75th minute.

Netherlands made 692 passes against Costa Rica, the most they’ve recorded in a single World Cup match (1966-2014).

Lionel Messi (29), Arjen Robben and Angel Di MarĂ­a (both 25) are the players with most completed dribbles in this tournament.

Messi has also created the most goalscoring chances in this World Cup: 19.

Against Costa Rica Wesley Sneijder recorded the 10th instance of a player hitting the woodwork twice in a World Cup match (1966 – 2014). He is the first Dutchman to do so.

Against Costa Rica, Netherlands recorded the 11th instance of a team hitting the woodwork three times in a World Cup match (1966 – 2014).

Argentina have won both their knockout stage games in this tournament 1-0; they have twice before won by this scoreline in the knock out stages of the World Cup (1986 and 1990).

Netherlands’ 0-0 draw against Costa Rica was their first goalless draw in World Cup knockout stages. This ended a run of 11 World Cup knockout stage matches for the Dutch without a clean sheet.

This is the first time Argentina have reached a World Cup semi-final in a tournament when great rivals Brazil have also done so.

Argentina are yet to trail for a single minute of the 2014 World Cup.

Argentina have scored with 11% of their shots from outside the box, the best rate at the 2014 World Cup.

Argentina have made 86 unsuccessful crosses, more than any other side.

Netherlands are the only team to concede more than one penalty at the 2014 World Cup
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