Argentina face a tough task to get past a Netherlands team who do almost everything perfectly and given space can be lethal, midfielder Javier Mascherano said on the eve of their World Cup semi-final clash.
Argentina will be trying to end a 24-year wait for a place in the World Cup final on Wednesday, while Louis van Gaal's Dutch side are one win from being in the showpiece game for the second time in a row having lost the 2010 decider 1-0 to Spain.
"It will be a very tough match, Netherlands is a great team and they do almost everything right," Mascherano said in an interview with Argentina's official news agency, Telam. "They are very experienced and have got a lot of great players, and they were at the last World Cup final although they lost," he added. The Netherlands can rely on tricky winger Arjen Robben although the goals have dried up for main striker Robin van Persie who needs to recapture the form he showed in the group stage, when he scored three times in the first two games.
Lionel-Messi inspired Argentina have won all five of their matches in Brazil albeit by one-goal margins. The Netherlands swept all before them in the first round but it has been tougher since with a shootout required to get past surprise package Costa Rica in the quarter-finals following a controversial last-minute penalty win over Mexico. "We have to make the most of our game. We didn't show all we've got, but that was in part because of the way our rivals play," said Mascherano.
He believes Argentina can get past the Dutch and lift the trophy in Sunday's final against either hosts Brazil or Germany, who meet on Tuesday, because they have four-time world Player of the Year Lionel Messi who is a special talent. "Messi is the world's best player, he gives us illusion, makes us believe we can be champions. He's from outer space," Mascherano added.
(Reporting by Javier Leira; editing by Ken Ferris)