Netherlands vs. Argentina: Date, Time, Live Stream and 2014 World Cup Preview

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Netherlands vs. Argentina: Date, Time, Live Stream and 2014 World Cup Preview
Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

The Netherlands and Argentina each edged their way into a World Cup semi-final fixture by the tightest of margins over the weekend, but all they will care about at this stage is the fact they're present at all.

Louis van Gaal's decision to throw Tim Krul into the action for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica paid off in the quarter-finals, while La Albiceleste's 1-0 win over Belgium was far from a simple affair.

Nevertheless, two of the tournament's giants have made it to the penultimate phase, and a meeting on Wednesday between these two promises entertainment of the highest order.

Full viewing details and a preview of the semi-final encounter can be found below.

 

Date: Wednesday 9 July

Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET

Live Stream: ITV Player (U.K.), WatchESPN (U.S.)

TV Info: ITV (U.K.), ESPN (U.S.)

 

Key Storylines

Sabella Forced to Shuffle His Deck

Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

In terms of injury dilemmas, neither side has a vast quantity of certain absences heading into this matchup, but Argentina have one key issue in the form of Angel Di Maria's replacement.

Sergio Aguero, having not featured since the 3-2 win over Nigeria in the group stage, has been discussed as a potential swap for the winger by Sky Sports, but the Mirror's Ed Malyon suggests a start may be too soon, with Enzo Perez instead preferred out wide:

The impact is not just what it means for Alejandro Sabella's flanks, but also what the lack of attacking options now means for Lionel Messi, who could do with as much pressure being alleviated as possible.

Di Maria has been frustrating to watch at times in this tournament admittedly, but Argentina know as well as anyone what brilliance he's capable of, and the Netherlands attack may have a greater share of the genuine scoring opportunities as a result.

The pace of Di Maria forced defenders to drop deeper, creating room for Messi. Aguero will now need to replicate such a role if Argentina's captain is to continue starring in the tournament.

 

Dirk Kuyt: The Understated Dutchman

Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

The Netherlands' attacking figures have been in stellar form thus far in Brazil, with most of the attention centred upon the work of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie in particular.

However, for all the flash and flair those players bring, the often understated graft of veteran Dirk Kuyt has been a tireless boon for the Netherlands, a sentiment shared by broadcaster Sam Matterface and ESPN's James Tyler:

Against Costa Rica, there didn't seem to be a position that Fenerbahce's Kuyt didn't occupy at one point, his defensive aid down the right flank was sometimes just as helpful, if not even more helpful, than his on-the-ball contributions.

Considering the threat La Albiceleste are likely to bring in that area, it will again be Kuyt whom Van Gaal relies upon to produce a balanced, all-encompassing display, where he'll be hoping his side can end things within the 90 minutes.

 

A Task Too Tall for Messi?

Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press

With James Rodriguez out of the competition, Lionel Messi has a chance to claw back the two-goal advantage that Colombia's heroic youngster currently possesses in the scoring ranks and take this year's Golden Boot as his own.

However, the team accomplishment always come first for the unselfish Messi, and Rob Draper of the Daily Mail suggests just how good a vein of form the attacker has come upon at this tournament:

As already mentioned, Di Maria's injury threatens to disrupt that impact, but Australian writer Dan Colasimone believes the national gem can go about his work in as fluid a manner as ever, irrespective of positioning:

Without Messi, Argentina wouldn't be at this stage of the competition; it's a difficult point to accept for the South Americans but a true one all the same.

Is the Barcelona superstar capable of dragging a weakened team through its trials once again, or will the Dutch be able to take their opponents' key figure out of the fixture altogether?

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