The Netherlands took a big step forward in terms of performance against USA, but will need to do so again if they want to beat Argentina.
Lionel Messi and co haven’t look as good as many expected at the start of the tournament but are showing signs of improvement and still possess an immense amount of talent.
With the Copa America champions not at their best though, the Dutch will very much have their sights set on upsetting the odds and making it to the semi-finals as they have done in the past two World Cups they’ve competed in.
Last time, it was Argentina that knocked Louis van Gaal and his nation out at that stage, winning on penalties with the scores goalless after 120 minutes.
Here’s what the manager needs his team to if he wants to avenge that defeat eight years on.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first, shall we?
Messi is a bit good, and entirely capable of winning matches on his own. Stopping him from doing so when he already has the ball in a dangerous area is near impossible, so the Dutch need to ensure he gets it in those areas as little as possible.
Van Gaal was able to do so in 2014 by having Nigel de Jong stick to him like glue, and given how effective it was – the PSG man had one shot in 120 minutes – he’ll likely employ a similar approach this time around, with Marten de Roon probably being handed the unenviable task.
It takes more than just marking Messi tightly to stop him though. The Netherlands forwards will need to cut off the passing lanes to him when he drops deep, and defenders will have to be ready for the inevitable occasions when he does break through.
We never thought we’d say this, but Virgil van Dijk could learn a thing or two from Ron Vlaar in that regard; the former Aston Villa man produced the performance of his life in Brazil, making some glorious tackles on the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Argentina’s defence has hardly shipped goals in Qatar, conceding three goals in four games.
However, the South American side have thus far only come against teams who were all too happy to sit back and rarely launch quick counter-attacks, giving 34-year-old Nicolas Otamendi and co a fairly easy time of things.
There’s plenty of reason to believe that the Dutch forwards can find some real joy if they attack them more directly.
Otamendi is about to turn 35 and not particularly quick or mobile anymore, while Nahuel Molina and Marcos Acuna are hardly the most defensively sound full-backs given they’re both converted wingers.
It’s hard to imagine any of them holding up too well if constantly ran at by the likes of Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo and Steven Bergwijn, and Van Gaal should consider starting the latter over Davy Klaassen for that reason.
With such a quick front three to deal with, the Argentina backline would be forced to sit deep or risk being exposed on the break.
Argentina are the shortest team left at the World Cup – we looked it up – so, given their own squad, the Dutch should really be creating chances from set-pieces.
For one, they have some serious aerial threats in their starting XI in the forms of Van Dijk, Nathan Ake and Virgil van Dijk.
What’s more, they have one of the penalty crossers of the ball at the tournament in Gakpo, who has racked up a load of assists from corners at club level.
Despite that, the team have yet to score from any in Qatar, with Gakpo’s deliveries being dangerous but his team-mates unable to take advantage.
In a game that could be decided by the finest of margins, changing that in the quarter-final could make all the difference.
In the same way that the Netherlands will try to stop Messi getting the ball, one of Argentina’s biggest focuses will be silencing Frenkie de Jong.
The Barcelona man starts attack after attack with his passing and dribbling, with his team’s brilliant team goal against USA beginning at his feet, inside his own box.
Nobody else in the Dutch team is remotely capable of doing what he does though, meaning they struggle to create much when they can’t get him involved.
Argentina will undoubtedly be aware of that and will surely have plans in place to limit his influence.
Given that, Van Gaal needs his own plan for dealing with this, whether it be moving his player or tweaking the entire system.
It may seem a drastic change to make just for one player, but it’s worth doing; he could control the midfield on his own if able to get possession.
As we’ve already mentioned, Argentina aren’t the tallest of teams, so if in desperate need of a goal, there’s one obvious solution for Van Gaal.
Wout Weghorst and Luuk de Jong are both well over 6ft and two of the biggest aerial threats around.
Van Gaal has already said he’d consider bringing them both on and lumping crosses into them in a dire situation, and such a plan would be particularly effective in this match.
If protecting a lead, Argentina will most likely have Lisandro Martinez on the pitch, and while he’s far better in the air than some make it out, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s much, much shorter than Weghorst and De Jong.
Going route one if all else fails would surely create some chances for that reason, and it would do Van Gaal’s old nemesis, Big Sam, proud.
When did the Magpies last win a cup?
Newcastle are planning for success at the highest level following the 2021 takeover by a consortium of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners, and David and Jamie Reuben.
On-pitch fortunes have turned around pretty drastically since Mike Ashley’s departure, with Eddie Howe coming in as manager and the likes of Bruno Guimaraes, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak all arriving for big transfer fees.
The squad’s aim in the near future will be to break the trophy duck the club has endured for many years now. They’re well set in the 2022/23 Carabao Cup, but when was the last time the Magpies brought silverware back to Tyne and Wear?
Newcastle have not won a domestic trophy since 1955. They did earn silverware in 2009/10 and 2016/17 for winning the Championship, while their European honours are the 1968/69 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1973 and the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006.
The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is naturally seen as a predecessor to the UEFA Cup and now Europa League, though the tournament itself did not fall under UEFA jurisdiction. As such, it is not seen as prestigious in the modern age, though Newcastle fans of a certain vintage will almost certainly disagree.
In 1955, the Magpies defeated Manchester City to win their sixth FA Cup. Strikes from Jackie Milburn, Bobby Mitchell and George Hannah gave them victory despite Bobby Johnstone’s equaliser in the verge of half time.
Newcastle have been a consistent feature in the top league in England since the club was founded in 1892. Four league titles and six FA Cups help make the Magpies the ninth-most decorated team with trophies in England.
Newcastle have never won the League Cup, their closest run being a runners-up finish to Manchester City in 1975/76. They were beaten as strikes from Peter Barnes and Dennis Tueart made Alan Gowling’s equaliser redundant.
They have never won the Premier League in its current format, having come closest in 1995/96 and 1996/97 when they came second behind Manchester United on both occasions.
Newcastle came close to lifting the FA Cup on two occasions in the late 1990s, reaching the finals in 1998 and 1999. However, they came up against English giants Arsenal and Man Utd respectively and they couldn’t make the step up in either final.
Arsenal proved too strong in 1998 as strikes from Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka separated the two sides, while another 2-0 defeat came a year later when Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes downed Alan Shearer and co.
Man Utd close to signing Marcel Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich
Man Utd are close to signing Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich on a loan deal until the end of the season, 90min has learned.
United have moved for Sabitzer on transfer deadline day following the news that Christian Eriksen will be out until late April or early May with an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup win over Reading on Saturday.
The Dane’s injury leaves United light in the midfield department, with Donny van de Beek also out for the remainder of the season with an injury of his own.
Sabitzer, 28, boarded a flight to Manchester from Munich on Tuesday evening after an agreement of a straight loan deal was largely fleshed out between the two clubs, and the player has also agreed personal terms. 90min reported earlier in the day that Sabitzer was “very excited” about the potential move to Old Trafford.
The club were not planning to move for a new player prior to the deadline, though the severity of Eriksen’s injury has convinced Erik ten Hag to push for United to act, as they chase a place in the Premier League’s top four and attempt to win their first trophy since 2017. They are currently competing on four fronts.
United have until 11pm GMT to push through the transfer before the deadline, though could request a short extension from the Premier League to complete the deal if necessary.
On this deadline day edition of TPL, Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette discuss Man Utd’s move for Marcel Sabitzer. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast, and subscribe on YouTube!
List of titles in Magpies history as they chase Carabao Cup 2023
Newcastle United fans are certainly enjoying their season so far as they fight it out for a place in the Champions League places, but things could get even better as they remain in the mix for a trophy.
The Magpies are in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and they have got a 1-0 lead over Southampton to take into the second leg. They are likely to be facing Manchester United should they reach the final, a team in direct competition with them for a top-four place.
When was the last time that Newcastle fans were able to cheer their team being the champions of something?
The most recent time that Newcastle fans were able to celebrate a trophy was in 2017, although it was one that they wish they weren’t contesting in the first place. They got back into the Premier League by winning the Championship in the 2016/17 season.
You’ll have to be chatting to some of the much older Newcastle fans to here stories about Newcastle winning the FA Cup, though. Their last silverware recognised as a major trophy was back in 1969 when the Magpies lifted the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – which is these days known as the Europa League.
Whilst Newcastle fans may be set for a lot more success in the near future, it is a very long time since their fans travelled down to Wembley en masse for a cup final. That was back in 1999 when they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
That is why heading down for a potential Carabao Cup final would be a first for so many of the current Newcastle fan base and they would certainly be travelling in great numbers.
For the League Cup itself, they have only been in that final one time before. That was in 1976 and it also ended in defeat, this time to Manchester City.
Newcastle have not exactly sailed through to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup. They needed a penalty shoot-out to knock out Crystal Palace before narrowly beating Bournemouth 1-0.
The quarter-final was more simple as they beat Leicester City 2-0, and a dramatic game in the semi-final first leg at St Mary’s ended 1-0. They are certainly the favourites to get through to the final with Southampton struggling for form.
The Saints have found a safe haven in the cup competitions but they will have their work cut out to turn it around at St James’ Park.
Considering Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 away from home in their semi-final first leg, you’d think that they are the team waiting for either Newcastle or Southampton at Wembley.
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