source:Dutch National Archives, The Hague

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

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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.

Highlights:

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.

Highlights:

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.

“This game belongs to the players” Wenger downplays Guardiola success

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Arsene Wenger has stressed that Pep Guardiola has not changed the game of soccer over the last decade or so, maintaining that the players are the ones who make a team truly great.

Asked if Guardiola has “raised the bar” of managing in his time at the top, Wenger said, “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe. You have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a short number of clubs.”

[ MORE: EFL Cup final preview ]

“We, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy but this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.”

In fact, Wenger showed a twinge of jealousy at all the attention Guardiola is getting with the team blowing out the rest of the Premier League this season, referencing trophies in the recent past Arsenal has hoisted. “We are maybe underdogs but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again?”

“At the end of the day, you have to be cool,” Wenger said, “because Manchester City is dominating the league in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final [last season when Arsenal beat Man City].”

Deportivo wastes penalty kick, remains winless under Seedorf

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MADRID (AP) — Clarence Seedorf remained winless as Deportivo La Coruna coach after a 0-0 draw with Espanyol in the Spanish league on Friday.

Deportivo squandered chances including a second-half penalty kick taken by Lucas Perez. Its winless streak reached 10 games in all competitions.

It was the third game in a row without a victory since Seedorf took over to try to avoid relegation. Deportivo was 18th in the 20-team standings, in the relegation zone.

In addition to the missed penalty, Deportivo twice hit the posts in front of a supportive crowd at Riazor Stadium. The players left the field applauded by the local fans despite the setback.

Perez’s penalty attempt was saved by Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the 65th minute. Lopez, who earlier this season stopped a penalty taken by Lionel Messi, dived to his right to stop Perez’s low shot.

The match marked the Deportivo debut of veteran Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari. He played alongside Seedorf at AC Milan, and was signed this week after a trial period.

Espanyol, 15th in the standings, hasn’t won in seven matches, since it ended Barcelona’s 29-match unbeaten streak in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Espanyol’s last league win was in January, seven rounds ago.

Barcelona defends its seven-point lead in the standings when it hosts Girona on Saturday. Second-place Atletico Madrid visits Sevilla on Sunday.

Conte says he believes in his selection regarding Willian

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Antonio Conte has lashed out at anyone questioning why Brazilian winger Willian hasn’t played regularly until recently, saying

“Do you think that I am stupid when I put Willy on the bench?” Conte fired back at reporters when he was asked about Willian’s earlier lack of playing time at his pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s match on Sunday against Manchester United.

[ MORE: Heynckes squashes Lewandowski to Premier League rumors ]

“I have to try and make the best decision for the team, no? Maybe last season we won the title, or did I forget something?”

The 29-year-old has made 29 Premier League appearances, but only 13 starts. He started in the midweek Champions League match against Barcelona and not only scored Chelsea’s only goal but also proved their most incisive player, prompting questions about his selection.

“Now he is playing because he deserves to play, not because there is some regret from the past,” Conte said. “For what? If a player deserves to play, and shows me during the training session that he is on top of his form, and wants to work defensively, he plays. If not, [he will] stay on the bench, stay in the stands.”

Instead of saying he wishes Willian had played more earlier in the season, he praised himself for giving the Brazilian the start at the appropriate time.

“He is playing now and I am very happy with my choice. Willian deserved to start in the previous game, and played well. I did a fantastic choice, and I want to take credit for that.”

EFL Cup Final preview: Arsenal, Manchester City fight for different types of glory

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  • These two clubs have never met in a major Cup final
  • With a win, Arsene Wenger would become the 8th PL manager to win all 3 major English trophies
  • Sergio Agüero has scored in all of his last 4 appearances against Arsenal

For Manchester City, it’s the first step of a potentially record-setting season. For Arsenal, it’s the Gunners’ best chance at securing a trophy.

The two teams are fighting for very different levels of glory as the two meet at Wembley Stadium on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Manchester City, despite losing to Wigan in the FA Cup just a week ago, would still be on track for a Double this season with a win against the Gunners. Meanwhile, Arsenal is outside the Premier League top four, and – as they have done each of the past two seasons in the FA Cup – could salvage an otherwise disappointing league season with a major Cup trophy.

Both teams will be struggling with selection in certain areas. Manchester City is likely missing Raheem Sterling, who could sit out due to an unspecified muscle injury according to Pep Guardiola in his pre-match press conference, while Fabian Delph is suspended after his sending off against Wigan in the FA Cup. That means either Danilo or 21-year-old Oleksandr Zinchencko would start at wing-back. Zinchenko is the likely candidate there, having appeared in four of City’s five EFL Cup games this season so far and playing almost every minute of those four matches. Gabriel Jesus, who missed more than two months with a knee injury, could be ready to make his early return. Claudio Bravo will continue to play in goal for the domestic Cup competitions.

Arsenal, meanwhile, is without new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is cup-tied to his previous club Manchester United, while Alexandre Lacazette is not yet recovered from his knee injury suffered in the North London derby, and Mesut Ozil could miss out with an illness. The Gunners are likely, however, to get Aaron Ramsey back in midfield after recovering from a groin injury, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can return to the lineup after his own cup tied absence in the Europa League midweek.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on playing Arsenal twice in a week: “We will be happy if we win, sad if we don’t but after the game we have another match against Arsenal. We are going to try and maintain our level, but finals are different, it is not what you have done in the past.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on playing Manchester City: “Manchester City have so many players that you think you have to stop that it is better to focus on the team plan than rather than on any individual. It’s true that I always used to use this competition with a youth team. For us it’s an opportunity. We’ll play with all the regular players.” 

Prediction

Arsenal has often come up big in hotly contested Cup matches, despite poor form in the surrounding competitions, so it would not be surprising to once again see Arsene Wenger hoist a trophy on Sunday to temporarily distract the fanbase and media from larger struggles. However, picking against this Manchester City team would be selection suicide, even after their disappointment against Wigan and considering the absence of under the radar star Raheem Sterling. Manchester City wins 3-1 with a pair of late goals to sink the Gunners, with a newly healthy Gabriel Jesus providing an influential injection off the bench in the final 20 minutes. Pep Guardiola raises another trophy at the site where he won the 2011 Champions League.