Netherlands vs Argentina predictions: Classic encounter could go the distance
- Copa America champions Argentina have lost only one of their last 40 matches
- Netherlands are unbeaten in 19 games in Louis van Gaal’s third stint as boss
- Recommended bet: Back the draw in 90 minutes
Previous meetings between the Netherlands and Argentina have produced some of the greatest moments in World Cup history and the pair look well matched going into Friday's quarter-final in Qatar.
Johan Cruyff introduced the world to Total Football during a 4-0 thrashing of Argentina in 1974, but the South Americans got their revenge on the Dutch in the final four years later to claim World Cup glory.
A generation on, Dennis Bergkamp produced one of the competition’s greatest ever goals when his iconic 90th-minute strike put the Netherlands through to the semi-finals of France ’98 at Argentina’s expense.
However, the last two meetings have been tense, goalless affairs and both sets of players this week will head into the 2022 quarter-finals knowing that they might have to produce another moment of World Cup magic to secure a semi-final place.
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Striker Memphis Depay has been gradually building up his time on the pitch as he recovers from a hamstring injury and the Barcelona man played 83 minutes against USA in the round of 16.
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has several injury concerns.
Angel Di Maria missed the round of 16 with a thigh strain but his omission is believed to have been precautionary and the Juventus winger has a good chance of returning for this quarter-final.
Papu Gomez, who replaced Di Maria against Australia, suffered a sprained ankle in that match and is expected to miss out and there are slight concerns over the fitness of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul.
Striker Lautaro Martinez has been carrying an ankle injury throughout the tournament but should again be available if called upon.
Netherlands and Argentina have met five times at the World Cup, with one group-stage draw and two wins apiece — albeit one of Argentina’s victories came on penalties after a 120-minute 0-0 draw.
Netherlands won 4-0 in 1974 and 2-1 in their 1998 quarter-final clash, while Argentina won 3-1 after extra-time in the 1978 World Cup final.
The two most recent meetings have ended 0-0 — a group-stage meeting in 2006 and Argentina’s 2014 semi-final shootout success in their most recent clash.
The Netherlands have not lost a single game since Van Gaal returned to the helm in August 2021.
The Dutch have won 14 and drawn five in Van Gaal’s third stint as national manager, scoring in all 19 games but keeping just eight clean sheets.
Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, in which they dominated possession, shots and recorded 2.2 expected goals to the Saudis' 0.1, is their only defeat in 40 matches.
In that run they have claimed the Copa America, beaten Italy 3-0 in the Conmebol/UEFA Finalissima and gone unbeaten in three meetings with Brazil, winning twice.
Argentina have kept seven clean sheets in their last nine outings but the two teams to have scored against them were Saudi Arabia and Australia.
This quarter-final pits two of the most in-form teams in international football against each other and it is hard to separate them.
However, their impressive recent records cover a few notable chinks in the amour of both teams, as the Dutch were fortunate to hold out against Ecuador in a 1-1 group-stage draw, while Argentina conceded to two of the tournament’s weaker teams, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
And while the Dutch will be cautious and Argentina are generally tight defensively, it is hard to imagine this game will make it a third successive 0-0 draw between the pair.
There is simply too much attacking quality on both sides — and too many doubts over the form of key defenders Virgil van Dijk and Nicolas Otamendi — to expect another goalless encounter.
Argentina’s defeat to Saudi Arabia can be chalked off as a freak result but there seems very little between the South American champions and the Dutch, with both teams proving extremely difficult to beat in the past couple of years.
The pair have drawn three of their last four meetings and it would be no surprise if two well-matched opponents went the distance in a mouth-watering clash.
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