Who will need to perform for the Netherlands if they’re to cause the upset?

There’s no doubting that the Netherlands are facing an uphill battle when they take on world number three ranked side Argentina in their World Cup quarter-final at Lusail Stadium this Friday. With the La Albiceleste boasting elite players including the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Julian Alvarez and Lisandro Martinez to name a few – the Netherlands will be aware that they need to be near perfect if they’re to cause the upset and progress to the semi-final in Qatar.

Despite the fact that Argentina are perceived to have the more talented and deeper squad – the Netherlands will take plenty of confidence from their performances in the group stage and round of 16 fixture. After defeating Senegal 2-0 in their opening game, the Louis van Gaal-managed side’s remaining group games resulted in a 1-1 draw with Ecuador and a 2-0 rout of hosts Qatar.

That set up a clash with the United States in the first knockout round, which they handled comfortably en route to a 3-1 win. Contrast that with Argentina, who have looked a shell of the team that went on a 36-game unbeaten run leading into the World Cup. After losing their first group fixture to the 53rd ranked side Saudi Arabia, Messi and company returned to form with two consecutive 2-0 victories over Mexico and Poland to top their group. 

However, they looked vulnerable once again in their round of 16 clash with a relatively unknown Socceroos outfit, holding on to win 2-1 in a nervy affair. While you can’t take Argentina’s performances with a pinch of salt, they’re bound to play to their potential soon – which is why the Oranje’s star players need to rise to the occasion if they are to defy the Netherland vs Argentina betting odds and reach the final four.

Therefore, with that in mind, read on as we dissect two players who hold the key to the Netherlands’ success on Friday evening.

Cody Gakpo

This World Cup has been a coming out party for PSV Eindhoven star Cody Gakpo. Amassing three goals in four games in Qatar, the 23-year-old’s athleticism, vision and knack for the goal has been nothing short of exceptional. 

It isn’t just the regularity with which he has scored at this tournament that has stood out – it’s the quality of the goals that has made his campaign so impressive. With a classy header against Senegal, followed by two sweetly-timed bombs from outside of the box against Ecuador and Qatar respectively – and Gakpo is quickly establishing himself as one of the most frightening prospects in world football today.

Couple that with the fact he stands at six-feet-three-inches tall, and he could pose a multitude of problems for the much physically smaller Argentinian outfit. 

Virgil Van Dijk

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has achieved almost everything there is to achieve in football – however – a World Cup triumph would be the icing on the cake of an already incredible career. In their clash with Argentina, the 31-year-old’s decision-making, timing in tackles and distribution from the back will be crucial against this extremely fast, agile and skillful team.

Additionally, if Van Dijk can use his size and physicality to frustrate and bully the Argentinians, he gives his side every chance to come away with the victory.

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