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Argentina vs Netherlands: Can Messi And Co Tame a Real Dutch Threat?

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Argentina are in the World Cup quarter-finals in 2022 after being defeated 4-3 by France in an intriguing last-16 tie at Russia in 2018. Now we get to see a matchup of Argentina vs Netherlands in what promises to be an amazing contest.

La Albiceste endured the most dreadful of starts to their 2022 World Cup campaign, shell-shocked 2-1 by Saudi Arabia.

Since then, Argentina has gone on to win all games, 2 in Group C including 2-0 wins over Mexico and Poland, and a 2-1 last 16 triumph over the Australians, marking the first time since 2010 that a team(Spain) won their World Cup group after losing their opening game(Spain 0-1 Switzerland)

La Albiceste defeated The Socceroos 2-1 in the second round of 16 tie at the 2022 World Cup on Saturday night to set up a heavyweight quarter-final meeting with the Netherlands.

Lionel Messi marked his 1000th senior career appearance, scoring his 789th goal to put Scaloni’s side in front in the thirty-fifth minute.

Alvarez doubled Argentina’s lead but twelve minutes into the second half but Enzo Fernandez’s attempted block which deflected into Martinez’s net twenty minutes later kept the blue and white outfit on their toes for the remainder of the match, a game in which La Albiceste were comparatively the better side.

With the Argentine set to rub eyeballs with a strong Dutch side, Lionel Scaloni’s men would be facing the toughest test of their World Cup campaign so far as they forge ahead for the highly coveted prize. But how can Argentina fare against the Netherlands?

Messi’s role for Argentina

La Pulga was kept silent in the second half of Argentina’s upsetting 2-1 defeat to the Saudi Arabians. Messi is the live wire of the Argentine team, the man who spurs them, and initiates attacks, as was very noticeable against Mexico, Poland and Australia, so it’s very important Scaloni gets his numbers right about the Paris-Saint German forward in this game.

Scaloni might want to play the 35-year-old as a false nine if his impact is to be felt in the game. As seen in the game against Australia, Messi enjoyed a lot of freedom. He was able to make a lot of runs and didn’t face too much opposition from the Socceroos. The Dutch would definitely have their eyes on the Flea going into this game.

Messi is no stranger to the false 9 center forward position and he can easily drop back deep into the pitch to receive passes and help bridge that gulf between the defence and the attack. He could function very much like a connecting rod, feeding the front-line and creating openings in the Dutch half.

Dybala may be needed

He may have picked up an injury prior to the tournament but the Roma forward definitely has a lot he can bring to the table. Since his move to AS Roma this season, Dybala has scored seven goals in twelve games in all competitions, leading the charts for Jose Mourinho’s side. What’s more, Scaloni has admitted to not playing the 29-year-old as part of a tactical decision.

Agreeing to disagree, Dybala’s got so much to offer an Argentine team bereft of creativity. There’s been so much Messi-dependence for Scaloni’s side at this World Cup and from past experiences, a one-man army doesn’t always fare well. Especially considering the other titans in this competition in form of Brazil, Spain, and France. With this kind of opponent, you definitely want to make sure you create a lot of opportunities. Once the key man is closed down, the team struggles to go through the game.

A Messi-Dybala Partnership may Feature in Argentina vs Netherlands

With Messi dropping deep into the field to receive passes and work the ball up the pitch, he can draw defenders away from the defensive line, distracting them from a real threat in Dybala. The Roma man is good at making runs and weaving his way through defenders, the kind of features Di Maria and Papu Gomez have been unable to exhibit at this World Cup. Messi acting as a source of diversion can enable Dybala to make the runs in between the defence or catch the Netherlands on the flanks, especially when Denzel Dumfries and Martin Blind overlap on the attack.

The kind of pace, skill and prowess Dybala’s got is the type needed on the pitch considering the fact that the Netherlands plays a 3-4-1-2 formation. The Argentine side can easily obtain numerical superiority on the wings and look to break into the Dutch box from these vantage points.

With these pockets of space, all three of Messi, Alvarez and Dybala can link up to form a formidable attacking trident and create real chances in front of the goal.

Looking at the Argentine team, there’s one obvious disadvantage possessed by most of Scaloni’s players. And that is a lack of physicality and height. While Angel Di Maria is under 6’0, the Juventus man still appears to be one of the tallest on the team. Playing against a very big side may prove difficult if they don’t get their numbers right here.

The blue and white outfit have to be disciplined in keeping the ball on the ground at all times. Heightened passes definitely won’t help. It’s an effort that has proved futile, in the game against Mexico when the Argentine tried a very good number of long, aerial plays into the box. It just doesn’t work for them due to a lack of that physicality and not being vertical enough. Sticking to short passes, where they build play from man to man would help them fare better against the Netherlands and also reduce the number of counterattacking opportunities the Dutch get.

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Head-to-Head World Cup Quarter-Finals: Argentina vs Netherlands

The two teams have faced nine times, with the Netherlands winning four of the meetings, losing two and one via penalty shoot-out(2014 included) and drawing twice, now we get to see it again in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Friday’s World Cup quarter-final meeting at the Lusail Iconic Stadium would make it the sixth time both countries have clashed at the World Cup Finals with the Dutch recording two wins and the Argentine one(during normal time)

The last contest between them was in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a match which ended in a 0-0 stalemate and which the Argentine went on to win on a penalty shoot-out.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Jesuyemi is an avid fan of sports, especially football. He also enjoys WWE and athletics. He's been writing for a few years now and is a supporter of FC Barcelona.