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Will Netherlands destroy Messi’s World Cup dream?

In a 2014 World Cup semifinal rematch, the Netherlands and Argentina will lock horns at the Lusail Iconic Stadium for a place in the semifinals.

Oranje beat a lively United States side 3-1 to reach the quarterfinals, while Argentina saw off a resilient Australian unit.

The Netherlands had to weather the storm in the opening minutes against the USA in the round of 16.

The Stars and Stripes were playing a positive brand of football, but it was the Dutch who took the lead.

Memphis Depay and Daley Blind fired the Netherlands to a 2-0 lead. Haji Wright momentarily brought the US back into the equation. But Denzel Dumfries, who had assisted the first two goals for the Netherlands, got his name on the scoresheet and binned off the USA’s hope for a resurgence.

The Netherlands did not lose a quarterfinal match since the 1994 World Cup, and their current form will make them hopeful of keeping that form intact.

Louis van Gaal’s men have not experienced defeat in their last 19 matches.

They have two in-form attackers, Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo, up front. And the rearguard, led by the mercurial Virgil van Dijk, has conceded only twice in more than six hours of football in Qatar.

Argentina took their time to exert their dominance in the match when they played Australia on Saturday night.

Lionel Messi ended his wait for a World Cup knockout stage goal as he brilliantly put the ball into the back of the net.

Julián Álvarez exploited a Matt Ryan mistake to make the scoreline 2-0.

The Socceroos set up a nervy finale after Enzo Fernández deflected a ball into his net. But Argentina custodian Emiliano Martínez made a brilliant late save before Lisandro Martínez produced a block reminiscent of the iconic Javier Mascherano tackle on Arjen Robben in the 2014 World Cup semifinal. So, the score remained 2-1 in favour of Argentina.

Argentina arrested their three-match losing streak in the World Cup quarterfinals when they previously played in the last eight.

Argentina overcame Belgium to play the Netherlands in the semis. They will hope to get the better of the 2010 World Cup runner-ups once again to book a spot in the semifinals.

Team News

Jeremie Frimpong fought off an ankle injury to make it to the starting XI against the US.

The fullback will keep his place in the lineup once again.

Stefan de Vrij has also pulled through fitness issues to provide competition for the settled back three of Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Aké, and Jurrien Timber.

Argentina might not get to call upon Papu Gómez, who sprained his ankle during the Australia match and had to come off only five minutes after the second half started.

But La Albiceleste could get back the experienced Ángel Di María, who is on the brink of returning from a quadriceps injury.

Our Prediction

Argentina are on a 13-match scoring streak, but they might struggle to break through the organized Netherlands defence.

Similarly, the Dutch could also fail to unlock the Argentina defence, which has the ability to fend off top attacks.

We expect the tie to end goalless and then Argentina to win on penalties, because of their penalty specialist goalkeeper.

Date: 10 December

Kickoff: 12:30 AM IST

Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium

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