The Netherlands face Argentina for a place against Germany in the World Cup Final. Only one compelling World Cup narrative will survive. Check out Dennis Bergkamp’s wondergoal from the 1998 World Cup, if you have not already.
Injuries and Returns… Robin van Persie has missed training sessions with a “stomach ailment” or your pooping euphemism of choice. But he will start for the Oranje. Nigel de Jong is back as well after a groin injury. We’ll see whether he can get the requisite height on his karate kicks.
Angel Di Maria has been ruled out for Argentina with a thigh strain. Sergio Aguero will return, after suffering a hamstring injury against Nigeria. Di Maria has been arguably the best Argentine player besides Messi. Aguero has been…anonymous. He will start the match on the bench.
Tactical Genius… Louis Van Gaal has had the magic touch this World Cup. His broad tactical shift to a more defensive-minded 5-3-2 worked. His between match adjustments have worked. Decisions within matches, such as substituting Tim Krul in before the penalty shootout, have worked. Some are hailing him as a tactical genius (including him). Will the soon-to-be Manchester United manager figure out how to neutralize Messi? Will it involve exposing his testicles for emphasis? We shall see.
Unwise Comments… Argentine defender Martin Demichelis claims his former teammate Arjen Robben is “not a fighter” and will “get under his skin” with some physical contact. No word on whether he will also stop him cutting inside onto his left foot. We should give Martin Demichelis his due, though. He has been the clear weak link on some very impressive teams.
Here is the trailer… for the new Messi documentary. Even the greats have teenage hair decisions they wish they could take back.
RIP… Argentine legend Alfredo Di Stefano died Monday at 88 following a heart attack. Di Stefano, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner, was the star forward for Real Madrid teams that won eight league titles and five-straight European Cups from 1955 to 1960. He is widely acknowledged as the best player never to have appeared in a World Cup. Argentina refused to participate in 1950 and 1954. He later switched registrations to Spain. The Spanish failed to qualify in 1958 and Di Stefano was injured before the 1962 tournament.