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World Cup 2014 : Clash of the Titans — the battling stars of Netherlands and Argentina

Sneha Gohri, Hindustan Times   July 09, 2014
First Published: 15:26 IST(9/7/2014) | Last Updated: 17:11 IST(9/7/2014)

Argentina and Netherlands are going clash for the fourth time when the meet on Wednesday for the World Cup semifinals. Neither team lacks for heros - while the Latin Americans have Messi, Rojo and Demichelis; the Europeans boast of Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder. Here's a look at some of the Titans who will come face to face at Sao Paolo.

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Martin Demichelis vs Robben

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Demichelis has warned Robben that Argentina are planning on targeting him in on Wednesday because he is "not a fighter". Demichelis believes Robben will fade out of the game if Argentina target him physically and warns his side will show him the meaning of 'passion' as they look to reach their first final since 1990.

Martin Demichelis vs Robin van Persie

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Manchester United striker Van Persie will be eager to finally end his record of never having scored in the knockout stages of a major international tournament, and will find himself up against an Argentina defence that could be marshalled by Manchester City man Demichelis. Van Persie, 30, and his fellow attackers were unable to breach a packed opposition defence, but Argentina's commitment to getting forward should give him some more space to play with. It remains to be seen who will deliver through their skills on field.

Wesley Sneijder vs Javier Mascherano

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Coming into the World Cup, Sneijder's place in the Dutch side was the subject of some doubt. But he has acquitted himself well, coming second only to Arjen Robben when it comes to attempts on. In opposition to the Galatasaray man, Mascherano patrols in front of the Argentina defence. While his passing ability should not be underestimated, he adds the grit in the middle of the park and will look to stop Sneijder from playing.

Arjen Robben v Marcos Rojo

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For Argentina, Rojo is available again after suspension and seems certain to return at left-back in place of Jose Maria Basanta. Rojo has been arguably Argentina's best defender at the competition so far, but will he be able to measure up to an opponent of Robben's quality? One of the most dangerous wingers in the game, the Bayern Munich man has made a total of 17 solo dribbles into the opposition area, nine more than any other player. He is sure to put pressure on Rojo's credentials.

 Lionel Messi vs the Dutch defence

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 Lionel Messi has almost single-handedly borne the hopes of the Albiceleste on his slender shoulders. Will that prove effective enough this time? Van Gaal has favoured a three-man central defence so far, and if he sticks with that system the Dutch should have the numbers to cope with Messi as well as Gonzalo Higuain and whoever else lines up in attack for Argentina. Messi's ability to find cracks in the toughest defencive armour is the stuff of legend and the injured Nigel de Jong deprives the Dutch of much-needed bite deep in the midfield. It will be an interesting contest none the less.

(Sneha Gohri is an 18-year-old student. She is interning with the hindustantimes.com World Cup team after earning her spot with a write-up)


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