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World Cup semifinals preview: Holland vs. Argentina

The second semifinal pits another South American soccer power against a European one.

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's second goal and his second of the game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Nigeria and Argentina at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 25, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Credit: Getty Images Messi is among the World Cup’s leading scorers and could cause Holland headaches. Credit: Getty Images

The polarizing Lionel Messi and Argentina take the stage Wednesday at 4 p.m. (on ESPN) as the two-time World Cup champions take on the Netherlands, a country that has come close several times but never brought home hardware.

The Dutch are led by Robin van Persie, whose 13 attempts in the tournament are only two less than Messi.

Holland also has Arjen Robben, another potent offensive weapon (he has two goals and an assist).

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The Dutch are talented and very smart, but they are certainly not young, with nearly all of their attackers aged over 30. Their ability to keep pace with the younger and more aggressive Argentinians will be key in this match.

If the Dutch defense can focus on keeping out of one-on-one situations with Messi, (who has four goals in the tournament, the second most of any player) and if they can maintain possession, they have a good chance to prevail.

But if Robben can win his battle against Argentina left back Marcos Rojo and the Dutch can play a physical final 30 minutes or so, they could also advance.

It should be a great and fairly evenly matched battle that could go either way.

 
 
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