Tomorrow Argentina will face the Netherlands in what will be one of the most awaited quarterfinals of the tournament. Two great teams each in their way: the Argentina of Lionel Messi remain candidates for the title, but as yet to be really convincing, while everyone knows that the Dutch have the quality to make it all the way but appear to be unrealiable, and they are certainly not invincible as shown by Ecuador.
Historically it is also a special match. The two countries have faced one another four times before in a World Cup:
- West Germany 1974: They were paired together at the second group stages of the tournament in which Dutch Total Football was presented at a World Cup, and were superior by trashing Argentina 4-0 with goals by some Dutch legends: Rep, Cruyff and Kral. Netherlands went on to the final, losing to West Germany.
- Argentina 1978: a memorable World Cup final when Argentina won its first title after extra time!
- France 1998: They faced one another in the quarterfinal. They both had a fantastic team, and a great match went to the Dutch 2-1 on a victory goal by Denis Bergkamp; a goal that in my opinion is one of the best goals in World Cup History. Netherlands lost the semifinal to Brazil on penalties.
- Germany 2006: These two great footballing nations drew one another at the group stages. They tied 0-0 and Argentina won the group on goal difference. Netherlands went out in the next round to Portugal and Argentina were eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinals
- Brazil 2014: The two sides faced one another in the semi-finals in a tense match that ended 0-0 after extra time, but Argentina ended up winning on penalty kicks. Argentina went on to lose the World Cup final to Germany.
So in terms of World Cup history the Dutch have a slight edge over Argentina, although Argentina seems a bit better when it counts.
Of course history counts for nothing when they face one another this time! Two fantastic teams, great fans (yes, I fully admit to have joined their ranks once in a while!), and what promises to be another historical match between them.