Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986 when they were captained by their number ten, the magnificent Diego Maradona. 28 years later, Argentina have a new cult hero, captain and number ten who is arguably one of the greatest player the game has even seen. In many people’s eyes Lionel Messi has equalled if not surpassed the ability of Diego Maradona, but is yet to win the worlds greatest tournament. After propelling Argentina into the last four he will be hoping to follow in the great Maradona’s footsteps.
Standing in Messi’s and Argentina’s way are the Netherlands, who have only lost once to Argentina in their last eight meetings. The task becomes harder for Sabella’s side with the injury of Angel Di Maria, who picked up a thigh injury in their quarter final against Belgium. The winger scored the winner in extra time of their second round match against Switzerland and has been a vital cog in the Argentinian midfield. However, he could be fit for the final. It’s not all doom and gloom for Argentina, as Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero has been declared fit to play. It is unlikely he will start against the Dutch, although he could be an effective substitute if they start to struggle.
The attacking prowess of the Argentinian team is enough to scare any defence and they should be able to put the dutch back five under a lot of pressure. Gonzalo Higuain proved his worth with his winning goal against Belgium. While also showing the world they don’t have to rely heavily on Lionel Messi. If you consider the attacking ability of their side, they are second to non. It will almost be impossible for Van Gaal to stop every single one of the Argentinian strike force, so goals shouldn’t be a problem. The quality of attacking players aren’t just shown in the starting line-up, they are also evident throughout the bench. The likes of Palacio, Agüero and Perez all have the ability to come on and change the game. So far they have scored eight goals in the tournament all coming from different sources.
Over the past few years it’s been the defensive frailties of the world number five’s team that have let them down. However, this has definitely been rectified. In the competition so far they have only conceded three goals. While being able to grind out 1-0 wins in important matches. This could be due to their defenders now playing at top levels. Zabaleta and Demichelis at Manchester City for example. The defence also has extra stability due to the role played by Javier Mascherano. He sits in front of the back four and breaks down counter attacks from opposing teams superbly. A position that will work wonders against the Dutch.
The new favourites of the competition could go on and win the tournament. Many have speculated they will beat Holland tomorrow, however, the final is another kettle of fish. The successes of this Argentina team solely depend on their attacking influence through Messi, Higuain and Lavezzi. While Mascherano protects the defence. Messi could well replicate Maradona’s successes. This could make him the most successful player Argentina or the world have ever seen.