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FIFA World Cup 2014 semifinals: History weighs down on both teams as Netherlands, Argentina clash on Wednesday

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 - 8:57pm IST | Place: Sao Paulo | Agency: PTI

Fuelled by decades of hurt, Lionel Messi's Argentina and Arjen Robben's Holland will carry competing motivations into tomorrow's tantalising World Cup semi-final showdown at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena.

Argentina, who last reached the final in 1990, will be determined to pay appropriate homage to former great Alfredo Di Stefano, who died on Monday aged 88, while arch rivals Brazil could by then be awaiting in the final.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, are eager to rediscover their group-stage swagger and prove they are finally ready to claim football's greatest prize after agonising final defeats in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

"The semi-finals are fantastic, but we know what it feels like to lose a World Cup, and we would love to win," Dutch utility man Dirk Kuyt told FIFA.com. "Argentina are a world-class team and they deserve to be in the last four. But we want to measure ourselves against the best, and not only measure, but win. That's why we're here." The second of Holland's final losses came at the hands of Argentina, who won 3-1 as hosts at a Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires broiling with the menace of the country's military dictatorship.

It is, however, the only time in eight encounters that they have bettered Holland, who memorably won a 1998 World Cup quarter-final in Marseille thanks to a majestic last-minute goal by Dennis Bergkamp.

Di Stefano never graced a World Cup, either for Argentina or his adopted Spain, but on Wednesday another Argentine great embraced by the Spanish can tighten his grip on this year's tournament.

Messi met with quarter-final heartbreak at his first two World Cups, but in Brazil the Barcelona superstar has played with a decisiveness that suggests he may be about to definitively make his mark on the game's biggest stage.

Dutch dangerman Robben is in similarly scintillating form, but for all the stars on show, the game in Brazil's sprawling financial capital will also be a painstakingly prepared tactical battle.




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