Lionel Messi's dreams of lifting the World Cup are still intact as Argentina prevailed against Belgium in the quarter-finals.
The South Americans now face Louis van Gaal's Netherlands team, who could only eliminate Costa Rica in a dramatic penalty shootout.
The semi-final match will take place on Wednesday evening, in Sao Paulo.
Argentina looked impressive in spells against a Belgian side who never controlled the match―only exerting pressure in the final 10 minutes of the game.
In contrast, Netherlands looked tired in their game with Costa Rica and despite the best efforts of their dynamic attacker Arjen Robben, they failed to score in 120 minutes of football.
Here are the latest odds for the semi-final match, via OddsShark.com, and some predictions for the encounter:
|Match||Odds Home Win||Odds Away Win||Odds Draw||Predicted Score|
|Netherlands v Argentina||2-1||7-5||21-10||0-1|
Lionel Messi To Cap A Wonderful Career
Having spent his life in the glare of the media spotlight as Barcelona's most eligible superstar, Lionel Messi has craved the chance to perform well at a World Cup, in the colours of his country.
Argentina now sit on the edge of a tournament final as they face a Dutch team that have been defensively sound and tactically prepared through the whole tournament.
Messi has not failed to deliver in the competition and now has a very credible four goals in five World Cup matches, per WhoScored,com, putting him in line to win the Golden Boot, if he can add to his tally.
But now, Argentina's task to overcome the Dutch is a difficult one especially with the tactical mastermind of Louis van Gaal to challenge them.
Henry Winter of the Telegraph tweeted about Van Gaal's brilliance after the coach made a goalkeeping substitution, before the penalty shootout with Costa Rica, which helped his side win the game. He said:
All hail Van Gaal. Again. Big call on gks for pens. Spot-on decision. Krul good saves, poor antics. #ned thru deservedly. Great semi line-up— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) July 5, 2014
Van Gaal will surely have a plan for Messi and Argentina, and if the Dutch are as disciplined as they were against Spain in the group stages, this tie will be too close to call.
Messi will need to be at his mercurial best to help Argentina beat the Netherlands but LvG's 5-3-2 system has been almost impenetrable recently.
The winning goal for Argentina against Belgium was scored by Gonzalo Higuain, and Messi will need the Napoli forward to help him once again, in the semi-final.
But Messi's time is now―it feels like the 2014 World Cup is written in his destiny as he looks to add the most important of medals to his special collection of achievements.
The Argentinians have just enough in their locker to sneak past a tough Dutch side but if they do not play their best game, then Van Gaal will be waiting to exploit and eliminate them.
Arjen Robben To Run The Argentina Defence Hard
The focus might well be on Lionel Messi in the semi-final between Netherlands and Argentina but one additional truly world-class player will have an important say on what happens, on Wednesday night.
Arjen Robben is in the form of his life as he has stepped seamlessly from club duties with Bayern Munich to terrorising defences in Brazil.
It was Robben who laid on a masterclass against the Spanish in the first match of the tournament as the Dutch ran wild and slaughtered the reigning world champions 5-1.
And again, it was Robben who constantly pressurised the Costa Rica defence on Saturday, as the game went all the way to penalties.
Argentina will need to stop Robben some how and it is arguable to say they do not have the quality of defenders to do this.
There is experience in the Argentinian ranks but Robben has destroyed many a defence who are better than their one.
But with Messi in command, the South Americans may just have too much in attack and can punish the Dutch as a result.
Who will win and reach the World Cup final?
Angel Di Maria was substituted with injury, in the quarter-finals, so if he is absent this will help the Netherlands. However, with the Dutch failing to penetrate a Costa Rica defence that is hardly top class it could be a case that they have run out of attacking steam, and that Argentina will prevail as a result.
The match threatens to be yet another classic game which the Brazilian World Cup has been all about. And if the contest results in a triumph for Messi, his millions of fans worldwide will fall to their knees and worship at his alter once more.
Prediction: Argentina to win 1-0