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.

Kevin de Bruyne questionable for injury-laden Belgium

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Belgium, already without superstar Eden Hazard for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Greece, will now be without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who picked up an injury in training on Friday and will miss both the match against Greece and the subsequent friendly against Russia three days later…maybe.

The Belgian National Team official Twitter account sent out a quote from manager Roberto Martinez that confirmed De Bruyne would miss the pair of matches, but the tweet was quickly deleted.

Instead, this one was pushed out in its place, correcting his availability and also updating the type of injury:

Should De Bruyne miss out, it means Belgium would likely rely heavily on Dries Mertens and Kevin Mirallas for the playmaking duties, with midfielder Radja Nainggolan potentially taking on a more attacking role as well.

Belgium and Martinez also confirmed that right-back Thomas Meunier will miss out after failing to recover from an ankle injury, while Marouane Fellaini‘s status is unknown after he was held out of Thursday’s training session.

The injury also leaves De Bruyne’s status for Manchester City up in the air, with a pair of massive games in London in quick succession after the injury break. City visits Arsenal next Sunday, followed by a hop over to Stanford Bridge on Wednesday.

Landon Donovan retires again, this time for good

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After coming out of retirement last fall to join the LA Galaxy for one more shot at an MLS Cup, Landon Donovan has once again called time on his career, saying he’s certain he will not play again.

With a number of other ventures on his plate, the USMNT all-time leading scorer is looking forward to spending his time elsewhere.

“Yeah, I’m done,” Donovan said. “I’m done. No more playing for me. I have not [gone public with it yet]. But that is definitely the case.”

Donovan scored one goal in nine games for the LA Galaxy in his comeback bid, with the club ravaged by injuries and still gunning for the Cup. However, after the season was over with a loss to Colorado in the Conference Semifinals, the Galaxy confirmed it was nothing more than a short-term stopgap.

“With Landon, when he came back, it was always going to be a short-term thing,”team president Chris Klein said to the L.A. Times in December. “He’s enjoying what he’s doing and we see we’re comfortable in the direction that we’re headed.”

In January, reports claimed Real Salt Lake had offered Donovan a Designated Player contract, but it appears he’s turned it down, and will now have time to concentrate on his other ventures. Off the field, Donovan is an analyst on Fox’s soccer coverage, is on the advisory committee for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympics bid, and has joined the ownership group attempting to bring an expansion MLS team to San Diego.

Former Spurs midfielder Paulinho scores thunderbolt for Brazil

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Brazil topped Uruguay 4-1 to move on the verge of World Cup qualification, but there was much more to the first half of this match than meets the eye.

Uruguay went ahead 1-0 on a 9th-minute penalty won and scored by Edinson Cavani, and for a moment it seemed like the home side might find its way to pull within a point of Brazil at the top of the CONMEBOL standings. That would not last very long.

[ MORE: Full roundup of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying action ]

Just 10 minutes later, a bad giveaway near the midfield stripe saw Neymar casually feed Paulinho a good 50 yards from goal. The former Spurs man took matters into his own hands, charging forward and unleashing a vicious strike that continued to rise until it ripped the chords in the top-right corner.

 

Not only was the goal a sight to behold, it was an important moment in the match. Brazil was back level at 1-1, and Paulinho would be on his way to an eventual hat-trick with a pair in the second half. Neymar scored once as well to complete the 4-1 final scoreline, and the three points for Brazil saw them remain perfect in the World Cup qualifying round as they march seven clear of Uruguay at the top of the standings.

For Paulinho, the hat-trick brings him to four goals in the World Cup qualifying round, adding to his score in the 3-0 win over Argentina. They also mark an important moment for the Chinese Super League, where Paulinho now plays, having moved from Spurs in July of 2015. Some national team coaches have left players on the outside of the squad for moving to leagues such as the Chinese League or Major League Soccer, but Paulinho has clearly been an asset to Brazil despite his club situation. In fact, in China, Paulinho has scored four goals in his four league matches for Guangzhou Evergrande this season plus another in the Asian Champions League, leaving him in top goalscoring form coming into this international break, something which has clearly translated directly to international play.

The 28-year-old had lost his place in the national team squad in 2014, going over two years without a single international appearance, but has been a mainstay in the Brazilian side during this World Cup qualification cycle.

Dele Alli banned three European games for straight red card

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Spurs may be out of the Europa League this season, but should they end up qualifying for the Champions League next season, they will start the campaign short-handed.

Tottenham will be without midfielder Dele Alli for the first half of the group stage after his horrifying tackle on Brecht Dejaegere of KAA Gent in their 2-2 draw which saw Spurs out of the competition on aggregate in the Round of 32.

Alli went to ground on the 39th-minute challenge, and made contact on high up on Dejaegere’s leg with both his studs, finishing with a scissior-whip motion. It was a blatant red card, and now UEFA’s disciplinary committee has handed down the three-match ban. Straight-red cards for violent conduct only carry a minimum penalty of one match in UEFA tournament play, but the disciplinary committee clearly thought a longer punishment was necessary, with the ability to sentence anyone up to five matches.

The straight red was the first of Alli’s professional career. Alli apologized to Dejaejere after the match, according to the Gent midfielder. He’s since scored in four straight matches, and when asked on Sunday if that moment was still in his mind, he said, “I’m never going to say sorry for wanting to win or trying as hard as I can but things happen and you have to learn from them.”

Spurs currently sit in second place in the Premier League table with 59 points and look to be in a strong position for Champions League qualification, with a seven-point cushion on fifth-placed Manchester United.