Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WC 2014: 9th July. Defining moment for Messi?

The semi-final match between Argentina and The Netherlands is really a toss-up and I think it will be closely-matched till the end. Both teams are unbeaten but have also shown weaknesses that the opposing team will try to exploit.

The Netherlands could only overcome Costa Rica on penalties, so they can hardly be considered world-beaters. Although Krul was the hero for the Dutch, I didn't like his lack of gamesmanship in taunting opponents during the shoot-out. Lack of class from a second-tier keeper, but I suppose we've seen worse on a football field. Robin Van Persie has been a disappointing non-factor for the majority of the tournament and  it seems Robben is the go-to guy for Van Gaal's men. The Argies will do well if they can keep him quiet during the match. Argentina will be the fourth South American team that the Dutch will face; they edged Chile and Mexico in very close matches and could only draw Costa Rica; Argentina are a much better team than the ones they've encountered so far, so it's hard to see The Netherlands winning this in regular time.

Argentina were masterful in edging Belgium in the previous round, which was a real litmus test in gauging the quality and effectiveness of the team. They will be missing Di Maria, which is a huge setback, but it's not as bad as if they were missing Messi. The Argies haven't been spectacular by any means so far, but they've shown that they are hard to score against. They will rely on some magic from Messi or some of their other big names to make the difference. The other plus for them is the availability of Aguero.

I believe in the end Argentina will go through. The fact that they have Messi in their ranks gives them that extra bit of an edge. Should they not get past the Dutch, the critics will be all too keen to draw the knives against the superstar Argentinian and question his place in the pantheon of the greatest footballers. This could be his most important match and defining moment yet.

To reach final: Argentina

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