B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: Will Lionel Messi Down Netherlands?

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterJuly 9, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: Will Lionel Messi Down Netherlands?

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    Bleacher Report's experts were keen not to rest on the laurels of their efforts of last season, so they will go into battle for the whole of the World Cup.

    Each game will feature a score prediction, combined with a Man of the Match selection (based on FIFA's official decision).

    The predictions for the Argentina vs. Netherlands semi-final are in the following slide, and you will be able to chart the writers' success—or lack thereof—for the rest of the tournament on our daily scoreboard.

    Post your own picks on Twitter and include @br_uk. Anyone who gets all scorelines and the Man of the Match awards correct will receive a Bleacher Report goody bag.

Argentina vs. Netherlands

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Michael Cummings: Netherlands 1-1 Argentina (Argentina win on penalties)

    Louis van Gaal has had the golden tactical touch throughout the World Cup. Now, what can he do to stop Lionel Messi? With Angel Di Maria out, Argentina look even more reliant on their superstar talisman. But even so, I'm not ready to bet against Messi just yet.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    It's all shaping up for Messi in Brazil. This World Cup can be his great international moment.

     

    Will Tidey: Netherlands 1-1 Argentina (Argentina win on penalties)

    I now run a very real risk of getting both of these wrong, because the Dutch have been better than Argentina and have already won a shootout. That said, Argentina should have Sergio Aguero back, and that will compensate for Angel Di Maria's absence. Aguero will score. Netherlands will try Tim Krul again in the shootout, but this time he'll fail.

    Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

    Expect the Manchester City man to score a vital goal and smash home the winning spot-kick.

     

    Alex Dimond: Argentina 2-1 Netherlands

    Argentina have yet to completely click during this World Cup, and now it appears they will have to go the rest of the way without Angel Di Maria—arguably their second-most important attacking player behind Lionel Messi. The Dutch are full of confidence, and they will fancy their chances of going at least one step further. But 120 goalless minutes against Costa Rica exposed some limitations in their attack, and Argentina should be better equipped than Los Ticos to cause them problems defensively. If Messi is firing, the South Americans should have just enough.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    The Barcelona star will have to carry the responsibility for his side once again, even if Sergio Aguero is ready and available. If Argentina win, he is likely to be a critical reason for it.

     

    Karl Matchett: Argentina 2-1 Netherlands

    Argentina have gone far in their bid to upset an entire nation, winning the World Cup on enemy soil. One more win takes them to the final itself and the chance to do exactly that. The Netherlands, on this occasion, will be an innocent bystander, who, one way or another, gets trampled upon.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Expect Messi to produce the moment which defines this semi-final.

     

    Sam Tighe: Netherlands 1-0 Argentina

    Some might say the Argentines have the look of champions about them, but I'm willing to say the same thing about the Netherlands. Louis van Gaal is unlikely to be out-coached and has the full belief of his players.

    Man of the Match: Arjen Robben

    He's been incredible, just incredible, during the tournament so far. Robin van Persie has failed to replicate group form in the knockout stages, so I'll plump for the other danger man.

Updated Standings

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    Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    B/R Expert Picks

    (One point for correct result, three points for correct scoreline, two points for correct Man of the Match.)

    Sam Tighe 90
    Michael Cummings81
    Will Tidey 78
    Karl Matchett 68
    Alex Dimond 63