The great dribblers, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Arjen Robben of Netherlands face off on Wednesday when their countries clash in Sao Paulo for the semi-finals.
Either Messi or Robben could turn the semi-final with a stunning turn of pace or a weaving run to propel his country to semi-final.
The Dutch defender Bruno Martins told Dutch website Nu.nl that they are planning to cut the supply line to Messi.
Messi has led his team through the group matches with four goals and 180 passes in the five matches he has played so far.
In terms of goal scoring, the Dutch the have shared duties more evenly. Of their 12 goals Robben and Robin van Persie have each scored three while Memphis Depay has scored two.
”We know that we will play against one of the best teams when it comes to counterattacks because of the speed of their men up front,” said Javier Mascherano, the Argentina midfielder.
”So we have to take precautions to not give them the possibility to counterattack, to always be well positioned, to not lose balls unnecessarily in areas where there’s a lot of risk.”
In the quarterfinals, Van Persie looked off the pace in their match against Costa Rica where he missed an easy chance near the end of the regulation time, but now the Dutch are hoping that he will regain his touch in front of goal.
It is unfortunate for the Netherlands that they will be without Nigel de Jong, their powerful midfielder controller. Nigel de Jong is nursing his injured groin muscle.
His possible replacement, Leroy Fer is also recovering from a hamstring injury, and it is not clear whether he will be able to play at the semi-finals on Wednesday at the Itaquerao Stadium.
Argentina will also have to play without Angel Di Maria, the Real Madrid winger. Angel got an injury at his right thigh during the first half at the quarterfinals during their clash with Belgium. But striker, Sergio Aguero who had similar problem has been declared fit to play.
Di Maria scored during the extra-time in their match against Switzerland in the second round.
”He’s a good player, but we look at the whole team, not one player,” said Jasper Cillessen, the Netherlands’ goalkeeper. ”We’re going to watch … how Argentina plays. We’re going to make our plan to beat Argentina.”
Whether the strategy could involve substituting Cillessen with Tim Krul a minute before penalty shootout is everyone’s guess. The same happened during their match against Costa Rica.
”We are ready for everything,” Tim said. ”Hopefully, we don’t need it against Argentina and we can do the job in 90 minutes.”
Cillessen said that beating Argentina would only be a step on the way to making amends for the 1978 final during which Netherlands lost after Rob Rensenbrink’s shot hit the post shortly before the end of the game with the scores level at 1-1; Argentina won the match 3-1 in extra time.
”It would be revenge if we win the World Cup,” Cillessen said. ”But we have to wait for that. It’s not a final. It’s a semi.”