Netherlands vs Argentina three key battles

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The Netherlands lock horns with Argentina in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals at the Lusail Stadium on Friday evening. The Oranje overcame the USA 3-1 to book their spot in the last eight, with Denzel Dumfries providing a pair of assists for Memphis Depay and Daley Blind’s goals in the first half. They weren’t at their sublime best but still taught the Americans a lesson in clinical finishing and advanced to the quarter-finals for the third time in a row. Argentina, meanwhile, edged past Australia 2-1 to make it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Goals from Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez had given La Albiceleste a comfortable two-goal lead but substitute Craig Goodwin’s deflected strike gave Australia hope and set up a tense finale. The South American champions did keep their calm and saw out the game, in the end, thus, booking a showdown with the Netherlands. On that note, let us take a look at the three key battles that could define the outcome of the riveting Netherlands vs Argentina clash. #Lionel Messi vs Virgil van Dijk Lionel Messi has been exceptional at the ongoing World Cup, single-handedly carrying Argentina through at times. The mercurial playmaker is currently the second-highest goal scorer in the tournament with three goals which also puts him in the race to win the Golden Foot award. Arguably the greatest player to have ever graced the game, Messi will be pumped up to take Argentina past the Netherlands and into the semi-finals of the tournament. Affording the 35-year-old enough room to move with the ball in and around the penalty box could be dangerous for the Oranje, and thus, skipper Virgil van Dijk must take the mantle of stopping him. The Dutch side’s defensive lynchpin, Van Dijk will need to put his best performance to keep an in-form Messi at bay. It will be interesting to watch if Van Dijk and his fellow defenders will be able to nullify the Argentina superstar’s prowess. #Cody Gakpo vs Nicolas Otamendi At the other end, Netherlands will look to Cody Gakpo to provide the majority of their goal threat against Argentina on Friday. Gakpo has been one of the standout performers at the World Cup, and his three goals puts him as the joint second-highest goal scorer in the competition. While he was terrorising defences in the Eredivisie playing on the flanks for PSV Eindhoven this season, he has become increasingly impressive through the middle under Louis van Gaal at the Dutch national team. The man likely to be tasked with stopping Gakpo will be Nicolas Otamendi. The veteran Argentinean, after a poor outing in the shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in the opening group-stage game, has been fairly solid and marshalled his troops well from the back. At 34, the defender has lost a yard of pace or two and should be aware that he cannot win a foot race with Gakpo. So, Otamendi will need to make great use of his experience and reading of the game to keep the in-form Dutch forward quiet. #Frenkie de Jong vs Rodrigo de Paul Frenkie de Jong is one of the finest ball carriers currently in the footballing world, and his passing range and vision are simply outstanding. He will try setting the tempo of the game for the Oranje with his passing skills and spatial awareness whilst helping Louis van Gaal’s side dominate Argentina in the centre of the pitch. Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni will be wary of De Jong’s threat and could instruct Rodrigo de Paul to stop the Dutch midfielder from dictating the game. De Paul has been a mainstay in Argentina’s midfield, playing every single game so far. His role to break up the opposition’s play and begin attacks will be pivotal for the South American champions. So, it will be intriguing to see who comes out on top between De Jong and De Paul. The post Netherlands vs Argentina three key battles appeared first on Mad About EPL.

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