From big favorites in their quarterfinal to big underdogs in their semifinal, the Netherlands look to return to the World Cup final when they clash with Argentina on Wednesday.
While their offense was held goalless in the quarterfinals win over Costa Rica (where the Dutch won on penalty kicks), they figure to have more room to counterattack against the offensively minded Argentines.
Argentina is the World Cup semifinals favorite, priced at 3-2 at most sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The Netherlands, looking to finish what they started four years when they lost in the final to Spain, were 2-1 and a draw line priced at just longer than 2-1 for a regulation-time draw.
Argentina finally got some help for Lionel Messi, with striker Gonzalo Higuain scoring the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Belgium in the quarterfinals. While the South American squad is known for their attack, their defense has not given up a goal in the two knockout-stage matches.
There are a couple of big injuries for each squad, as defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong is out for the Dutch and midfielder Angel Di Maria, who has been great for Argentina in the World Cup, is banged up and not expected to play in this match.
Argentina, however, has a world-class talent ready to step in, as Sergio Aguero has been declared fit to play.
Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were both shut out in the Costa Rica match, but each striker has three goals and each is a constant threat. Robben has not scored a goal in the last three matches, although he created one with a theatrical fall in the penalty area against Mexico.
The Netherlands thrive on the counterattack, which has to be a major worry for Argentina, since they will be pushing forward the entire match.
Messi will need support on offense, and the appearance of Aguero should help distract some of the defensive marking from him. If Messi has to do it all, which he has done for most of the tournament, it gives the advantage to the Dutch.
Wesley Sneijder leads the Dutch midfield, and his attacking play will be crucial in this match. But he and the other Dutch midfielders must defend well too, as the Argentines will not be sitting back.
Both Argentina and the Netherlands posted clean sheets in their last matches, but that will not happen in this one. Each team will score once in a match that could go to extra time or penalty kicks.
Argentina will prevail and join Germany in the World Cup final.
Netherlands vs. Argentina prediction: 2-1 Argentina
Stats and odds courtesy of Odds Shark.