One of the heavy favorites to win the World Cup, Argentina is up against the Netherlands, who can be said to be the tournament’s dark horse. After an early scare to start the tournament by losing to Saudi Arabia, Argentina has been brilliant ever since. They have now made it to the quarter-finals, and they face a serious test in the Netherlands, which has been impressive from the start of the tournament until now.
Argentina’s Run In The World Cup
Argentina got off to a bad start in the competition. They unexpectedly lost to Saudi Arabia before getting back on track and winning the group with 2-0 victories over Mexico and Poland. Argentina was up against a brilliantly-coached Australia team in the round of 16, and it took them 35 minutes to break the deadlock. Who else to open the scoring for Argentina besides Lionel Messi? The PSG forward received a fast pass from Nicolás Otamendi at the edge of the box, steadied himself, and fired a low drive that sailed through Souttar’s legs and into the far corner of the net. In the second half, Man City’s Striker Julian Alvarez doubled Argentina’s lead to ensure their progression into the quarterfinals. Australia pulled one back close to the end of the game, but the Argentines maintained their lead and won the game.
Netherland’s Run In The World Cup
The Netherlands, the group’s favorite to win, did so, albeit not with the ease everyone anticipated. Cody Gakpo has excelled for the Dutch, scoring in all games, and they were generally strong, only giving up one goal in three games. The Netherlands kicked off their run in the tournament with a 2-0 win over Senegal. They went on to play out a draw against Ecuador, but they won comfortably against the host nation Qatar to progress to the round of 16. The Netherlands were up against the USA in the round of 16, and they cruised past them by winning three goals to one to secure their spot in the quarter-final. The Netherlands had a great start thanks to a goal from Memphis Depay, and the Americans faced a daunting assignment after Daley Blind’s replica goal on the last play of the first half. In the 76th minute, Haji Wright halved the score to set up a tight conclusion, but Denzel Dumfries quickly declared victory by scoring to secure the win. The man of the match, Denzel Dumfries, scored and handed out two assists.
Bring on the direct, aggressive thriller. This quarterfinal is one of the few World Cup games this year, where both sides start the game with an aggressive purpose of attacking and trying to gain possession. No ten-man defensive shells, no long passes to a solitary striker in isolation. In Qatar, the Netherlands and Argentina have repeatedly displayed cutting-edge, precise finishing and depth off the bench to change the momentum. The attacking prowess on display, from Messi and Julian Alvarez to Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo, speaks for itself. This should result in a fast-paced, end-to-end match where both defenses are strained.
Strength And Weaknesses
- Their strength lies in their adept defensive play; the Netherlands will likely try to neutralize Messi with their back three and Frenkie de Jong.
- Also, how they transition from attack to defense. Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind, their two aggressive full-backs, provide them with width as they attack by channeling the ball to the flanks. To distract the defenders, the midfielders spread out, trying to get low crosses into the box for their two strikers to finish.
- Their weakness is that the Dutch team is surprisingly meek in attack for such a dynamic team. They only managed ten shots worth 0.7 xG against Senegal and two worth 0.1 against Ecuador despite having so much possession in risky areas.
- The Argentine team has the talent to play through teams, whether with passing circles between a nimble central midfield three or with progressive center-backs who can dribble and pass forward. Emiliano Martinez, the goalkeeper, is a gifted passer who can play short to draw the press before playing over it.
- Argentina finished the group stage atop Group C despite the tension and unforced errors, having the second-best xG differential in the competition so far (behind only France). Over the course of three games, their defense hardly allowed any good shots.
- Their weakness lies in how they defend the counter-attack. Against Saudi Arabia, the two goals they conceded were on the counter, and that’s typically how the Netherlands plays.
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- Messi is the key man for Argentina in this tournament. Messi shoulders a massive load as usual, but this time it’s much more as this is poised as his last chance to win a World Cup, a trophy that would put the finishing touches on a gleaming résumé, but he can’t do it by himself.
- On the Netherlands’ side, they broke an American defense that had previously stopped a freely scoring England attack in the group stage, but was breached by the Dutch in a stylish 3-1 victory over the USMNT in the Round of 16.
- The Oranje have all the components to grind out a victory with Depay healthy and on fire. At the same time, the experience of Virgil van Dijk and Daley Blind should benefit younger colleagues.
- The midfield duel is key to this game as Frenkie de Jong and Rodrigo De Paul will have to battle out the control of the midfield. Both playmakers usually benefit their teams when they have a grasp of a game.
- The Inter Milan player’s excursions down the right wing give the Netherlands another dimension, and his matchup with Marcos Acuna could be crucial. Denzel Dumfries stands out as a true X-factor for the Netherlands.
This game has the making of both teams scoring, which will be the prediction here. The teams’ attacking playing style has influenced this decision. They have also conceded heading into this game, which should be the case here. Argentina is the favorite to progress to the semi-finals, but as the underdog in this match, the Netherlands will not go down without a fight.
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