Netherlands v Argentina: Key Battles – Ex-Chelsea star important

Ahead of the 2014 World Cup semi-final clash between the Netherlands and Argentina, we look at three battles that could decide the outcome...

Lionel Messi vs Bruno Martins Indi

Barcelona forward Messi has been in great form so far in this tournament and is the playmaker for this Argentina attack that is full of talent. He will be the key to unlock a Netherlands defence that is likely to be well organised, playing five at the back and determined to stop Argentina from scoring.

One player in that defence is Martins Indi. He struggled against Costa Rica in the quarter-final, and that was when he wasn't tested much. That is certain to change against Argentina. Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij and he will need to work together to stop Argentina's forwards, especially Messi, from finding space.

Javier Mascherano vs Wesley Sneijder

Both Mascherano and Sneijder have a lot of experience in the big games both at club and international levels. Mascherano has been outstanding in the defensive midfield role to date, protecting his back four brilliantly - that's proven by the fact that they have conceded only three goals in five matches to date.  

Sneijder has been superb as well. The attacking midfielder's form has improved as the tournament has progressed, and he certainly has the ability to hurt Argentina's defence if given time and space to do so. Mascherano will need to close him down throughout the match if he is to get the better of the Galatasary midfielder. 

Marcos Rojo vs Arjen Robben 

Marcos Rojo loves to get forward for Argentina from his left-back position. He has done that so far with relative ease and control in terms of defending. However, that is certain to change when he plays Arjen Robben, who has been one of the best players of the World Cup so far.

Scoring three and assisting three, Robben, formerly at Chelsea and now at Bayern Munich, has been integral to all the good things that the Netherlands have done so far in the tournament. As they are expected to play on the counter-attack, Robben will look to find space on Rojo's side and exploit it.

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