They've each taken their share of setbacks en route to the semi-finals, but Argentina and the Netherlands will meet for what promises to be a highly entertaining duel in Sao Paulo this Wednesday.
Alejandro Sabella's men were pushed to extra time by Switzerland in the round of 16 while Louis van Gaal's men clawed their way to a penalty-shootout triumph over Costa Rica in their quarter-final.
Two titans of the World Cup roster will clash for the right to line up in Sunday's Maracana final. Read on for a preview of the fixture, as well as a brief look back at what it's taken for each team to reach this stage.
Date: Wednesday, July 9
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
TV Info: ITV (UK), ESPN (US)
As previously mentioned, neither of these two teams have had a spotless run to the semi-finals. Argentina are yet to concede a goal in their knockout-stage campaign, but their 1-0 wins over the Swiss and the Belgians also show some lack of a ruthless streak.
In fact, Sabella's men have won all five of their World Cup matches thus far by one-goal margins, which could be an issue considering the Oranje's record of keeping the South Americans out, per OptaJohan:
2 - The Netherlands have conceded just two goals in their last five meetings with Argentina. Fortress.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) July 6, 2014
1 - The Netherlands have lost only one of their previous eight meetings with Argentina (W4 D3). Ambition.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) July 6, 2014
Van Gaal's side, on the other hand, have relied on their potent mix of firepower up front to do great things in front of goal.
The exploits of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and others (to a lesser extent) mean that they are now the most accurate shooting team remaining in the contest, according to WhoScored.com:
Best shot conversion in World Cup 2014: Colombia (21.1%), Algeria (19.4%), Netherlands (16.2%), Chile (15.4%), Germany (13.3%)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 7, 2014
The Dutch have outscored Argentina at this World Cup 12 goals to eight, and although it may distort that statistic slightly, the Netherlands' 5-1 drubbing of Spain in their tournament opener was a well-deserved result, showing that they can indeed go for the jugular when the opportunity arises.
Van Gaal's men have conceded one more goal (four in total) in their last five games than Sabella's side, but one could argue the Europeans' journey to this stage has been more treacherous, certainly as far as the group stage is concerned.
Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto is no longer involved at the World Cup, but one departing present he will have left La Albiceleste was a demonstration of how this Dutch line-up can be contained.
At times in their quarter-final, the Netherlands were relegated to a tiring, side-to-side assault that was by all means constructed upon the basis of Costa Rica's five-man defence, but Sabella will have taken his notes on the identities of the danger men he faces.
Dutch specialist Michiel Jongsma cites Voetbal International in giving a rundown of those faces who could be absent for the semi-final, particularly through the centre of their line-up:
Oranje update: Leroy Fer and Nigel de Jong not likely to feature vs Argentina, Ron Vlaar highly dubious. (via Voetbal International)— Michiel Jongsma (@JongsmaJongsma) July 7, 2014
Meanwhile, Ed Malyon of the Mirror tells us that the injured Angel di Maria could replaced by Enzo Perez, hinting that perhaps Sergio Aguero's comeback from injury may rely upon a substitute appearance:
Argentina to stick with Enzo Perez as Angel Di Maria's replacement according to @fenotartaglia. Rojo comes back in for Basanta at left-back.— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) July 7, 2014
Argentina have shown that they are capable of putting up a balanced and disciplined defensive assault while their attacking figures will always give them a chance at the other end.
Lionel Messi will inevitably give his side some impetus moving forward with the ball, and if Argentina can take things to extra time, their advantages in being more suited to the environment should come into play late on.
Prediction: Netherlands 1-2 Argentina AET