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.

Klinsmann side-steps blame, calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries

Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT
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The rivalry between the national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico is one of the fiercest and most unique of its kind in the world of sports. Anyone who’s participated in, or simply attended, a competitive fixture between the two sides will immediately attest to that.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Speaking to ahead of Saturday’s clash against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, it’s quite interesting to hear current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describe the rivalry from his point of view, both before and after having coached in it on a number of occasions.

Before we get to that, though, Klinsmann had a bit more blame side step regarding his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the USMNT’s worst-ever showing at the tournament for CONCACAF nations.

Q: What did you learn from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where you lost to Jamaica in the semi-finals?

A: There were so many things that happened in the tournament and decisions that were made that affected the outcome. It was difficult for the players to know what to expect. For Mexico and for Panama it was the same thing. The lesson is that you just have to roll with it and try to control the things you can.

What’s the no. 1 thing players can’t control? Who gets called into the team/plays in the games.

What was the no. 1 problem for the USMNT at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who got called up/played game after game despite performing very poorly. Ultimately, it’s what undid them in the semifinals and third-place game.

Just once — once — would it hurt Klinsmann to answer a question with an “I,” or “me,” or even “we?” The question was “What did you learn,” yet the answer always come back to “the players,” or “they,” or “them.” At this point, Klinsmann either believes he’s infallible, or he’s simply trying to see how many ridiculous statements he can get away with.

Q: You’ve been in the top US job for almost five years now and you’ve met Mexico many times. How would you define the rivalry between these countries on the pitch? Can you compare it with others you’ve experienced?

A: The USA-Mexico rivalry is one of the greats in world football. For me, it compares to Germany-Holland in terms of the intensity and emotion it brings out in the fans. As USA coach, it was a learning curve to understand how much this rivalry means to our fans. We had won some games against big nations, but the reaction from everyone to when we went down to [Estadio] Azteca and beat Mexico there for the first time was just amazing.

Q: What makes the rivalry unique?

A: What is unique is that there are so many Mexican-Americans living in the United States, so the rivalry crosses borders. We have seen many times in these last years that younger Mexican-Americans will wear a Mexico jersey to our game, and when we start doing well they take it off and have a U.S. jersey underneath! More and more they’re supporting us, and we hope to continue to win them over.

Klinsmann gets this one absolutely right. With the two countries situated right next to each other, the aforementioned immigration of so many Mexican soccer fans into the U.S., and the classic battles between the two sides over the years, USA-Mexico not only feels amazing to get one over on your rivals, but perhaps more than anything it’s avoiding that feeling of defeat, of embarrassment, of being taunted and haunted for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that makes beating the old foe so satisfying.

Ozil, Coquelin: Arsenal can win the title this season

Mesut Ozil, Arsenal FC
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I suppose, in theory, that any Premier League club that fields a team could win the league title for a given season, so the above headline could have been written in reference to any one of 20 teams a few short weeks ago.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Fast forward eight rounds of fixtures to the present day, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every passing week that it’s a three-horse race — Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, who currently sit 1-2-3 atop the league — for the 2015-16 Premier League title.

So — and stick with me for just a second — why not Arsenal? [The crowd gasps loudly] Arsenal midfielders Mesut Ozil and Francis Coquelin believe the Gunners have what it takes to win the title this year, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Ozil and Coquelin, on Arsenal’s progression to title contenders — quotes from the Guardian:

Ozil: “We have a great team with many world-class players. Our goal is to win the Premier League and I think that this season it’s possible to do it, if we all stay healthy. But the season is long.”

Ozil: “I didn’t expect [Bayern Munich] to beat Dortmund 5-1. Their recent results show they are simply in great shape … But our victory against Manchester United was a sign: when we play and want it 100 percent, then we can beat Bayern.

“We are playing at home. Although we have respect for them, we don’t have any fear. We know how to score goals against Bayern and we can be successful. It will be difficult – but we have the potential to beat any team.”

Coquelin: “We proved a lot of people wrong. Inside the dressing room we knew we could do good things this season. We knew we could be contenders, but obviously we have to be consistent.

“We are getting stronger against the big teams. We beat City last season, now United. It’s all about consistency. The league is getting tougher, so we need to be getting results every week … We knew we had to put it right after Olympiakos and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coquelin is absolutely right — no one expected Arsenal to throttle Man United the way they did on Sunday. The Gunners acquitted themselves quite well, though it should be mentioned that Louis Van Gaal set up United to fail miserably with the immobile midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger against a quick, dynamic Arsenal unit.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

That’s not meant to take anything away from Arsenal’s scintillating performance, because they did exactly what they should be doing against a poorly planned side — that’s not always been the case for Arsenal against top teams. The Gunners will play hosts to Man City on Dec. 19; perhaps we’ll better be able to dub them contenders or pretenders based their showing that day.