Argentina underwhelming so far
Messi and Gakpo have three goals each
Left-back Acuna will be under pressure from Dumfries
Netherlands v Argentina
Friday 09 December, 19:00
There is a certain symmetry to the Dutch facing South American giants Argentina in the quarter-finals of this year's World Cup, as eight years ago the two countries met in the semi-finals. Louis van Gaal was the coach of the Oranje in Brazil back then, and Lionel Messi was the star of the Argentinian side, just as he undoubtedly is now. The teams played out a drab goalless draw, and the Albiceleste squeezed through on penalties.
Both men are still the respective stars of their countries. 71-year-old van Gaal has pitched things perfectly, gathering a cohesive unit around him, and making bold decisions when necessary. The former Ajax, Barcelona and Manchester United boss resisted the temptation to give returning talisman Memphis Depay too much of a heavy workload in the group stage, and he was rewarded by a lively goalscoring performance in the first knockout round against the USA. He has also been willing to drop big names like Matthijs de Ligt if he thinks it will benefit the group.
The Netherlands' star on the pitch has been PSV skipper Cody Gakpo. The 23-year-old scored in all three group games, and has brought his outstanding club form to the World Cup. Gakpo is 5.4 to score, and remarkably he is 2.26/5 on the Exchange just to have a shot on target.
Argentina came to the World Cup with a three-year unbeaten record, but that went up in smoke in their opening game, as they lost to Saudi Arabia. Workmanlike wins over Mexico and Poland got them out of jail, but they weren't exactly impressive against underdogs Australia in what turned out to be a nervy 2-1 win. With three goals, the indefatigable Messi has been Argentina's attacking fulcrum, which is a surprise to precisely no-one.
I'm not remotely excited about backing Argentina in the Match Odds market here at 2.35/4, and I certainly wouldn't put you off backing the Netherlands to qualify at 2.486/4. They have conceded just two goals so far, rookie keeper Andries Noppert has excelled, and the team has a great attacking outlet in Denzel Dumfries down the right.
I'm going to dip into the Sportsbook's Bet Builder and back Cody Gakpo and Lionel Messi to each have at least one shot on target, and I'll throw in Marcos Acuna to commit at least one foul. Sevilla left-back Acuna will have to deal with the rampaging runs of Dumfries, and he can be a little hot-headed. That gives us a combined price of 3.24.