Could Messi send the Argies to their first final since 1990 or will it be Louis van Gaal’s men who face Germany.
THIS EVENING, GERMANY find out who they will meet in Sunday’s final as Argentina and the Netherlands clash at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo.
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How are we all doing? After witnessing a truly historic World Cup match last night, we’re back for the second semi-final.
Germany humiliated the hosts Brazil with a 7-1 hammering in Belo Horizonte and will be rewarded with a spot in Sunday’s final, where they will meet the winners of the Netherlands and Argentina.
Team news is in. Enzo Perez replaced the injured Angel Di Maria midway through the win over Belgium and the Benfica midielder retains his place in his team-mate’s absence. Full-back Marcos Rojo returns after his suspension.
For the Dutch, Nigel de Jong is back despite talk that his tournament was over through injury and skipper Robin van Persie has been deemed fit.
Netherlands: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind, De Jong, Van Persie, Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, Wijnaldum.
Argentina: Romero, Garay, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Rojo, Biglia, Perez, Mascherano, Higuain, Messi, Lavezzi.
These two have met four times in World Cup history. The Dutch have won two, the Argies were victorious in one and they drew the other.
In 1998, their quarter-final produced one of the finest pieces of skill that the tournament has ever seen:
Here’s the front of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. Van Gaal dancing with Messi in heels? Sure why not…
Right, let’s have your predictions! I’m going for Argentina after extra-time.
Eoin O’Callaghan has written a brilliant piece on one of the great tragedies of the World Cup, when the Netherlands got to the final but lost out to West Germany. Have a read while you’re waiting for the game to start.
Stats on the two main men from the BBC:
The teams are in the tunnel and Messi is all smiles — shaking hands with a number of the Dutch players as well as Van Gaal and assistant Patrick Kluivert, formerly of Barcelona.
The Argentina players are wearing black armbands as a tribute to Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano, who died at the age of 88 this week. We’re about to have a minute’s silence to remember him too.
Argentina kick off in blue and white stripes with black shorts and socks. The Netherlands are also wearing their traditional colours — orange shirts with white shorts and orange socks.
Pope Francis is here?
As expected De Jong is keeping a close eye on Messi. The Netherlands spread the ball around the back but don’t make any ground before giving possession away.
Then Argentina look to attack with Higuain and Enzo Perez, who has been lively in these early stages.
Free-kick to Argentina out by the left touchline. Lavezzi whips the ball in but it’s headed away easily.
Robben sets off on a run but is stopped by a brilliantly-timed tackle from Mascherano. The ball is given away, however, and Sneijder tries a snap-shot, which bounces wide.
Higuain plays in Perez, who has been brought down by Vlaar 25 yards out. Messi standing over it…
He drills it through the wall but Cillessen sees it all the way and collects.
Argentina have started this with a lot more confidence than in earlier games. The Dutch are well set-up but have yet to string any attacking plays together.
Zabaleta gets himself forward and wins a corner. It is sent in low but cleared by De Jong.
Another Argentina corner meets the head of Van Persie at the front post. 20 minutes played.
Lavezzi is playing with some purpose tonight, with plenty of running into the channels.
And there’s a chance! Garay meets a corner but heads over the bar.
Flashes of Bergkamp in ’98 there as a diagonal ball is floated into the path of Van Persie. The defender gets the slightest of touches though to send it out off the Manchester United striker.
Mascherano is down receiving treatment after a clash of heads with Wijnaldum. He gets the all-clear, which is worrying considering he could well be concussed.
Romero punches two balls into the box in quick succession, then Van Persie goes down under a nudge in the back… but he’s offside.
No goals yet but both teams playing intelligent, disciplined football — unlike Brazil last night.
Mascherano clips the ball into the corner for Lavezzi, who squares to where Higuain is arriving but the ball is cleared.
Sneijder has been kicked on the shin by Demichelis and is feeling the pain.
Martins Indi then comes across Messi and clearly fouls him. The longer the referee refuses to brandish a yellow card, the more likely we are to see a bad challenge.
And there’s a yellow for Martins Indi, who blatantly obstructs Messi’s run.
Half-time: Netherlands 0-0 Argentina
It has been a cagey affair so far but by no means a dull one. We’re set up nicely for the second half.
Second half, here we go. Martins Indi is off with Daryl Janmaat taking his place and Dirk Kuyt switching wings.
De Vrij cynically takes out Perez but, amazingly, doesn’t pick up a booking.
Demichelis grabs a hold of Robben (twice) and the Dutch have a free-kick in a promising position. Sneijder to take, but he curls it high and wide.
Mascherano tries to find Messi but he’s offside. Cillessen doesn’t take any chances and boots the ball off his opponent, before it trickles out of play.
Some work-rate out of the former Liverpool man.
Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar has been excellent at this World Cup and just made a super tackle on Messi.
Lavezzi is free on the right and cuts inside before crossing to Higuain. He makes contact with a downward header but it’s blocked.
De Jong has been quiet in the second half and is taken off for talented young midfielder Jordy Clasie of Feyenoord.
Biglia clashes with Janmaat and is looking worse for wear. After receiving treatment, he returns to the pitch with a strap on his arm.
20 minutes to play. No goals to report and very little in the way of chances. Be patient, folks.
Vlaar concedes a free-kick out by the corner flag but Messi puts it over the heads of those waiting in the box and out for a goal-kick. He is human after all.
Robben slips in Janmaat, who crosses for Van Persie. He tries a spectacular volley but is ruled offside anyway.
CHANCE! Perez sends a brilliant cross into the path of Higuain, who sticks out a toe and puts it… into the sidenetting. That was close.
It looked in.
Double substitution for Argentina — Perez and Higuain off for Palacio and Aguero.
Rojo tries his luck from a long way out but Cilessen isn’t troubled. Aguero then bumps into the keeper and knocks the ball out of his hands. Free-kick Netherlands.
Somewhere, Thiago Silva is waving a yellow card at his TV.
Three minutes of additional time left. Get yourselves ready for extra-time.
WHAT. A. TACKLE. Robben gets a couple of yards to run into but Mascherano recovers incredibly to get a crucial block in.
Full-time: Netherlands 0-0 Argentina
We’re going to have another half hour of this. Don’t go anywhere.
We can picture it so clearly.
Another coin-toss and we’re back at it.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar is coming on for the Dutch in what will be their final substitution, which means Van Gaal won’t be repeating his Tim Krul introduction for penalties. Interesting. Van Persie makes way.
Robben lets fly but Romero is behind it all the way.
Lavezzi comes off for Maxi Rodriguez. Obviously fancies a pen.
Robben feels he has been impeded but, surprisingly, doesn’t go to ground. When the referee waves play on, he’s livid.
Yellow card for Huntelaar and Argetina have a free-kick. Cillessen just gets there ahead of an attacker.
Palacio then sends in a decent cross and it’s put behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.
Half-time (extra-time): Netherlands 0-0 Argentina
Cillessen is at it again. Does Aguero with a lttle check inside before passing to a team-mate.
Zabaleta is down after a nasty collision with Kuyt.
De Vrij shoots from distance but goes nowhere near.
Palacio beats the offside trap after a flicked ball over the top. It bounces up but instead of waiting to strike it, the Inter Milan player heads tamely into the hands of Cillessen.
Messi goes by a couple of challenges and crosses to the back post, where Rodriguez can only volley weakly at goal.
Penalties are imminent.
Mascherano has been immense tonight. Still hunting Robben down at this late stage in extra-time.
One final chance. Janmaat crosses to Kuyt he shoots right at Romero.
Full-time (after extra-time): Netherlands 0-0 Argentina
Right, penalties it is. Vlaar is first to take…
SAVED! Romero gets down to stop a poor spot kick from Vlaar.
GOAL! Messi tucks his way to Cillessen’s right. 1-0 Argentina.
GOAL! Cool as you like from Robben. 1-1.
GOAL! Garay blasts his down the middle. 2-1 Argentina.
SAVED! Romero guesses right to keep Sneijder out. Stil 2-1 Argentina and they’re in the driving seat now.
GOAL! Aguero’s effort just about gets by Cillessen. 3-1 Argentina now.
GOAL! Nicely-done by Kuyt, who takes a bit run-up and slots past Romero. 3-2.
GOAL! Cillessen saves Rodriguez’s penalty but it goes in off the crossbar. 4-2 and the game.
ARGENTINA ARE INTO THE WORLD CUP FINAL!!!
He looks happy.
So we have our 2014 World Cup final:
Germany v Argentina – Sunday, 13 July (8pm)