Four-time World Player of the Year, Messi, has scored four goals en route to the last four and after Brazil's exit Argentine will be greedily eyeing a possible clash with the Germans at the legendary Maracana stadium on Sunday. (JPN/Agencies)
The Dutch began their campaign with a 5-1 drubbing of ousted champions Spain and will be looking to their talisman Arjen Robben, who has three goals at the finals, to help break down a well-drilled Argentine defence.
After their blistering start, Louis van Gaal's side have cut it fine on the way to the semi-finals and needed a penalty shootout to get past Costa Rica in the last eight having only beaten Mexico by a controversial last-minute penalty in the previous round.
Argentina’s defence seek solution to Robben riddle
Just as Argentina have Lionel Messi, the Netherlands have Arjen Robben and the South Americans are working hard to solve the riddle of how to stop the flying winger ahead of their World Cup semi-final.
Robben has scored three times in the tournament so far but it is also his ability to run at defenders, draw fouls in dangerous areas and deliver crosses for team mates that has made him one of the players to watch in Brazil.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said his team would be working hard to deny the 30-year-old forward any kind of space.
"He is player who can throw you off balance in a one-on-one, so we have to be especially careful with that, have players close, that is to say as grouped as possible," Sabella said on Tuesday at the Corinthians arena.
"When he picks up speed, it is much more difficult to take the ball away from him," he told a news conference on the eve of the semi-final.
Sabella said he was not worried about Robben going down easily in the penalty area - an accusation levelled at the player both at club and international level.
He is also sure he has an even greater talent.
"I think he (Robben) is a great player, an important player for the Netherlands, just like Neymar is for Brazil, Messi for Argentina, Messi the best of all. Each one is very important for their teams, but the best one of all is Messim” Sabella said.
Messi has scored four goals in Brazil so far and has been instrumental to his team's progress to the last four.
Messi's team mate Martin Demichelis told an Argentine daily newspaper that he believed there were ways of dealing with Robben on the pitch.
"We have to be aggressive," the defender said in an interview.
"He has to feel our passion, especially Robben, because he doesn't like physical contact. We have to get under his skin,” he added.
Sabella said that, as expected, Enzo Perez was likely to come into the starting lineup in place of the injured Angel Di Maria while Marcos Rojo also looks set to start instead of Jose Basanta.
The coach was asked whether he viewed the match against the Netherlands as a chance for revenge for Argentina's defeat at the hands of the Dutch at the 1998 World Cup when Sabella was on the coaching staff.
"Revenge or vengeance are ugly words. That word is not in my dictionary," he said.
Expect the unexpected in football, says Argentina's Sabella
Meanwhile, Argentina interrupted preparations for their World Cup semi-final to watch Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil, Sabella said the result illustrated the unpredictability and beauty of football.
Argentina are looking to return to the biggest game in world football for the first time since 1990 while last-four opponents the Netherlands are aiming for a spot in their second straight final after losing to Spain four years ago in Johannesburg.
While Germany's stunning win over hosts Brazil in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday left players, pundits and fans scratching their heads all over the world, Sabella said people should always expect the unexpected in football.
"I saw the first half and just a small part of the second half... 7-1 is not a normal result between two powers in world football," Sabella said.
"It happens rarely so it is not a normal result, undoubtedly. It's football. I would explain it by saying it is the most illogical of all sports ... but on the other hand that's what makes it so beautiful,” he added.
Sabella said that with 24 hours to go before they play the Netherlands, Argentina were just fine-tuning their preparations and that the players were given time to watch Brazil suffer their worst ever World Cup defeat.
"The players had the idea of watching the match, to continue watching the match, because the first half we saw at the hotel and we saw the end of it here," he said, explaining why the squad was late for their training session on Wednesday.
"Since we were going to have light training, we thought that coming out at that time gave us sufficient time to do what we needed to do," he added.
Four-time World Player of the Year, Messi, has scored four goals en route to the last four and after Brazil's exit Argentine will be greedily eyeing a possible clash with the Germans at the legendary Maracana stadium on Sunday.