History looms large as Argentina take on Netherlands in the semi final at the Arena de Sao Paulo in what promises to be an absolutely lip smacking encounter. The Albiceleste are the only team who have won five straight games coming into the crunch encounter. The South Americans overcame Belgium in the quarters and must now beat Louis Van Gaal’s tactically flexible outfit to reach the final for the first time of the showpiece event since 1990. Can Alejandro Sabella’s side finally take one step closer to glory or will the Dutch paint it Oranje?
We provide our readers with the strongest possible Argentina lineup ahead of the crunch semi final encounter.
Sergio Romero confidence would be sky high going into the clash thanks to his back to back clean sheets in the knockout stages. The Monaco shot stopper has risen to the occasion whenever required and the tall and lanky number one would be glad to face a side who have failed to hit the goal scoring charts as much as they were expected after humiliating Spain by 5-1 in their opening encounter. Romero, however, will face a stunning strike force comprising of Sneijder, Van Persie and Robben to deal with.
Marcos Rojo is set to come back into the squad after serving a one match ban in the quarter final and the Sporting Lisbon player will be a lively outlet for his side repeatedly making runs up front from the deep. However the young defender will have to deal with the raw pace of Arjen Robben and must make sure he doesn’t leave back space which the Bayern winger can exploit. Pablo Zabaleta too will have to be wary of Sneijder and Kuyt both of whom might start ou on the left flanks but will switch positions to drag defenders and stretch the Argentine defense. Napoli’s Federico Fernandez was dropped as Manchester City’s Martin Demichelis showed his true worth with a strong display against the Belgium. Ezequiel Garay remains the main man the heart of the backline.
Javier Mascherano starts in his defensive midfield role, acting as a screen for the back four while Fernando Gago should start as an anchorman in the middle of the mark. Angel Di Maria’s injury is a huge blow for Sabella but the Argentine coach will fall back to Jose Maria Basanta or Enzo Perez to fill in the gap. Perez showed great maturity coming on in the first half replacing Di Maria however Bsanta should get the nod thanks to closing down ability and his brilliant pressing sense. Ezequiel Lavezzi however, would start out wide on the left.
Torchbearer Lionel Messi leads the side and will have massive expectations on his shoulders carrying his country’s dreams. Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain has hit form which now augurs well and will start in the number nine role. Sergio Aguero too is fit but the dazzling Manchester City forward will have to be contended with a place on the bench.