source:Dutch National Archives, The Hague

From 1974 to 2006: History of Argentina and the Netherlands at World Cups


Just as PST looked at Brazil and Germany’s World Cup history before Tuesday’s semifinal, ProSoccerTalk’s flipping through the history books to catch up on the past Argentina and the Netherlands carry into the other half of this year’s final four bracket. But whereas Tuesday’s opponents had only met once before this year’s World Cup, the Albiceleste and Oranje have met four times – once with the world title on the line.

Here’s a brief look at Argentina’s history against the Netherlands at the World Cup:

1974 – Second round (second group stage) – Netherlands 4-0 Argentina

It’d been 36 years since the Netherlands, losers in the first round in 1934 and 1938, had qualified for a World Cup, but thanks to the influence of Total Football, head coach Rinus Michels, and attacker Johan Cruyff (pictured), the Oranje quickly established themselves as one of the tournament’s strongest sides, going 2-0-1 in the first group stage.

To open the second, the Dutch would face an Argentina side that needed a tiebreaker to qualify for the second round. Where it not for getting Haiti, their group’s weakest team, in the third group game, the Albiceleste may have gone home. Instead, a team that failed to qualify for Mexico 1970 was able to run up at the score, advancing past the first round for the fourth time in five tournaments.

Opening the second group stage, the Netherlands made it clear Argentina were out of their depth. Cruyff scored within 11 minutes, with Ruud Krol’s goal in at the 25-minute mark leaving the Dutch up two at halftime. Second half goals from Johnny Rep and Cruyff gave Michels’ team its most-lopsided win of the tournament, a 4-0 victory that helped vault the team to first in its group.

Argentina would go on to finish last in their second stage’s group. Netherlands would move on to the final where they’d lose 2-1 to the hosts, West Germany.


1978 – Final – Argentina 3-1 Netherlands

Amid the controversies born from the country’s 1976 military coup, Argentina overcame a second place finish in its initial group stage to claim first in the next round, though that finish remains contentious to this day. Speculation persists that Argentina arranged a final game fix with Peru, whose 6-0 loss allowed the host nation to overtake Brazil and secure a place in the final.

In the other group, the Netherlands, playing without Cruyff, beat Italy its final game to reach its second straight final. Unfortunately, the Dutch were facing the host nation.

That final game, delayed as Argentina was late coming out of its locker room, saw the hosts go up in the first half through Mario Kempes, who’d finish as the tournament’s leading scorer. Eight minutes from time, the Dutch equalized though substitute Dick Nanninga, but Kempes’ second goal of the match in extra time secured Argentina’s first world title. After Daniel Bertoni’s insurance, the Albiceleste claimed a 3-1 win.


1998 – Quarterfinals – Netherlands 2-1 Argentina

Fast forward 20 years, and the Dutch were on the rebound after missing two World Cups in the wake of 1978. The generation of players (led by Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard) that took the Netherlands back to the World Cup had given way to the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, and the de Boar twins: Frank and Ronald. For the fourth time in the nation’s history (and, second tournament in a row), the Dutch were in the quarterfinals.

By this time, Argentina were two-time champions, having added a title at Mexico 1986 to the crown they claimed on home soil. Within the 1998 team, however, were a number of young stars looking to establish their reputations. Though Gabriel Batistuta (29) and Diego Simeone (28) were their primes, Javier Zanetti (24), Juan Sebastián Verón (23), Ariel Ortega (24) and Hernan Crespo (22) were just coming into theirs. In terms of experience, it was a balanced squad, but eight years removed from Mexico City, the team had its own legacy to forge.

Twelve minutes in at Stade Velodrome, that quest was sidetracked by Patrick Kluivert, who gave the Dutch a quick but temporary lead. Within five minutes, Claudio López had the Albiceleste even, creating a deadlock that would last almost 70 minutes.

Just when extra-time appeared to be a foregone conclusion, two moments of brilliance turned the game Oranje. Playing long out of the back, Frank de Boar hit a perfect diagonal ball 70 yards to Bergkamp, whose touch around Roberto Ayala set up this 89th minute game-winning goal:

(Warning: Check your volume before hitting play. This one gets loud.)

The Netherlands produced another late goal in the semifinals, with Kluivert’s 87th minute equalizer sending Guus Hiddink’s team into extra time against Brazil. After 30 scoreless minutes, the Dutch were sent home, losing a penalty shootout.

2006 – Group stage – Argentina 0-0 Netherlands

Meeting in the final game of their group stage, both Argentina and the Netherlands had six points, but with a superior goal difference, the Argentines were in line to finish on top of the group. Though a win would allow the Dutch to avoid Portugal (in favor of Mexico), they were already guaranteed a spot in the second round, with both Cote d’Ivoire and Serbia and Montenegro sitting on zero points.

A contentious match that produced 40 fouls and six cards didn’t provide as much excitement on the scoresheet. Combining for a modest six shots on target, neither Argentina nor the Netherlands broke through. The 0-0 result sent the Albiceleste through as group winners (to lose in the quarterfinals to Germany) and the Dutch to a 1-0, Round of 16 loss to Portugal.

Serie A: Napoli go top for first time in 25 years; Inter a close 2nd

Gonzalo Higuain, SSC Napoli
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A quick roundup of Monday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

Napoli 2-1 Inter Milan

For the first time since the final day of the 1989-90 season, Napoli are top of Serie A all by themselves after a top-of-the-table clash with previous leaders Inter Milan.

Gonzalo Higuain bagged both goals for the Azzurri, the first of which came after just 65 seconds. His tally on 62 minutes held up as the game-winner after Adem Ljajic pulled one back for Roberto Mancini’s side in the 67 minute. The opener (below video) was a powerful finish from inside the penalty area which served as a strong reminder as to why a club like Arsenal is consistently linked to the Argentine striker.

Sassuolo 1-1 Fiorentina

Fiorentina, who had a chance to stake their own claim to the top spot, dropped two points away to seventh-place Sassuolo earlier in the day, opening the door for Napoli to go top with their victory. After shooting out of the gates red hot (6 wins in their first 7 games), the Viola have now drawn back to back games — to Empoli and Sassuolo — and find themselves third, two points behind Napoli.

Borja Valero put Fiorentina ahead after five minutes on Monday, but Sassuolo equalized through Sergio Floccari just before halftime to keep their own dreams of European qualification alive.

Serie A table

Matchup by matchup: Picking a favorite for MLS Cup 2015

Portland Timbers FC
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We’re T-minus 137 hours to the kickoff of MLS Cup 2015, between Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

When the two sides meet at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday (4 p.m. ET), the general public will have picked a slight favorite to hoist MLS Cup, just like any other game. Only, this one’s a bit tougher to call — there’s no clear-cut favorite as is usually the case in MLS Cup, so we’ll do our best to explore a few key matchups that might slant Sunday’s title tilt in one direction or the other…

Crew SC width (Waylon Francis, Harrison Afful, Justin Meram, Ethan Finlay) vs. Timbers width (Jorge Villafana, Alvas Powell, Rodney Wallace, Dairon Asprilla)

  • Pinning the wingers back — There’s two ways to beat Crew SC: 1) sit with eight or nine men behind the ball and frustrate them through a lack of space to attack; or, 2) pin Finlay and Meram deep inside their own half, defensively, by getting your full backs forward and forcing them to defend. It’s doable, but it’s not easy. On the other side, best of luck to Wallace and Asprilla with the tracking back they’ll be forced into with perhaps the best attacking right back in MLS, Afful, and Francis overlapping on either side. Fanendo Adi could find himself on an island very quickly if the Crew SC full backs get forward as often as they’d like.
  • Where the help comes from — That’s the biggest issue for Portland, who ever since dropping Darlington Nagbe into midfield, play with a lone defensive midfielder, Diego Chara. He’s great at covering the entire field and providing help to blow up an opposing attack, but he can only be on one side of the field at a time. This means Borchers and Ridgewell will be stretched wider and forced to defend Finlay and Meram in space, where they’re oh so deadly.
  • Advantage: Crew SC

[ MORE: Crew SC announce MLS Cup sold out 15 hours after qualifying ]

Kei Kamara vs. Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell

  • All it takes is one chance — Neither one of Borchers or Ridgewell can physically compete with Kamara’s rare combination of speed and athleticism — to be fair, few center backs this side of the world can. Therefore, 90 percent of “defending” Kamara will be staying tight to the 22-goalscorer during the regular season and, with any luck, not losing track of him once the ball gets out to the wings. Once Kamara gets that yard of space in any direction and the ball goes up on the cross, the center backs’ chances of winning the next ball are much, much lower. That said, Kamara will find far less space against Borchers and Ridgewell (and Diego Chara) than he enjoyed against Montreal and New York thus far in the playoffs. There’s very few center back duos with the experience and nous of the Timbers’ backbone.
  • Advantage: Timbers

[ MORE: Beckham group abandons yet another stadium plan, site in Miami ]

Timbers midfield three (Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri) vs. Crew SC midfield three (Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Federico Higuain)

  • Nagbe the key to balance — Darlington Nagbe will, one day, be an MLS Best XI central midfielder. Today is not that day, though. He’s still a work in progress, and probably the most exploitable individual on the field in Crew SC’s eyes. Tchani and Trapp are, in my opinion, the best deep-sitting midfield duo in the league, and they’ll press, harry and harass Nagbe for 90 (0r 120) minutes, probably starting a fair few of those deadly counter-attacks in the middle third of the field.
  • Advantage: Crew SC

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

Gregg Berhalter vs. Caleb Porter

  • Lineups set themselves — Neither coach is likely to throw out a huge surprise before kickoff — dance with one that brought you, or something like that. Up until recently, I was completely convinced that Porter was vastly overrated and didn’t understand the constant adoration that surrounded the man his first two or three years in charge. Everything was a bit stale and rigid, organized, but lacking flair. Then he moved Nagbe into midfield to allow his biggest game-changer more opportunities on the ball to affect the game much more. This leads me to believe Porter is a bit more flexible in seeing his team and system operate in slightly different ways, but only barely.
  • Advantage: Timbers

Crew SC announce MLS Cup 2015 sold out 15 hours after qualifying

Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC
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The building formerly known as Crew Stadium has hosted its fair share of famous soccer games since it opened in 1999 — dos a cero, anyone? — and Sunday’s MLS Cup 2015 looks set to rank right up there among them.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Roughly 15 hours after advancing to this year’s MLS Cup, which they will host this Sunday (4 p.m. ET), Columbus Crew SC announced on Monday that MAPFRE Stadium is officially sold out.

Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane addressed the fanbase in a blog post on the club’s official site Monday afternoon and said, “As of late this morning we are sold out of the extra capacity seating that was created for MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium. While there is a small chance that additional seats could be released for purchase as a result of MLS holds being returned, we are sold out of all known available seats.”

[ MORE: Beckham group abandons yet another stadium plan, site in Miami ]

Crew SC, making their second MLS Cup appearance in club history (2008 champions), will host first-time MLS Cup contestants, the Portland Timbers, on Sunday.

PL clubs combined to pay out $200 million in agent fees in 2015

Liverpool Unveil New Signing Christian Benteke
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What a time to be an agent in the footballing world, eh? The rich just keep getting richer and richer and richer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The steady increase in transfer fees being paid for players — bad, good, great and amazing alike — has made quite a few “selling” clubs rich reach over the last decade or two, to be sure, but it’s also made another group of people obscenely rich: player agents.

As the soccer world has gone crazy with its “now, now, now” approach — managers must win now, or they’re fired; new signings must become stars now, or they’ll be sold; etc. — agents are the ones making out like bandits — no losses to be sustained on players who turn out to be flops; no future loss of wages due to taking “too long” to settle in and being labeled a flop — at the expense of clubs and, most cruelly, the players.

More than $195 million was paid out agents by Premier League clubs across the January and summer transfer windows, with Liverpool — ever the club in constant change — paying out $21.5 million in agents fees to remain top of the table for a second straight year. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were the four other clubs to top $15 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Payback — The Diego Costa era over at Chelsea? ]

Agents not only receive a fee when players change clubs through transfers, but can only be compensated again and again when one of their clients signs a new contract with their current club.

For instance, Wayne Rooney has signed at least four new contracts since joining Manchester United in 2004, the latest of which came barely three years after he was given a new five-year deal in Oct. 2010 upon handing in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Manchester City. Rooney’s current weekly wage is reported to be in the neighborhood of $450,000. His agent, Paul Stretford, will have received a sizable payday upon negotiating the deal in Feb. 2014.

At the end of the day, sports are little more than a business, and it’s the ones who play the game — the political game, that is — the best, and most ruthlessly, who are making out like bandits.