Lionel Messi and Frankie de Jong as the pivot of the game; The offensive aggression of full-back Denzel Dumfries and constant pressure by striker Julián Álvarez breaking out of opponent defences.
Some of those distinguishing features of Argentina and the Netherlands could be the defining duel for the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
For both teams, Saturday’s match at the Lusail Stadium has been presented as the highest bar the tournament has ever seen since its inception.
The Netherlands, in turn, takes this as an opportunity to avenge the 2014 World Cup semi-final loss on penalties to Brazil.
With innovative tactics and hundreds of battles in one of the most competitive leagues in the world, it is to be expected that veteran coach Louis van Gaal will seek to damage Albiceleste’s weak points.
But his younger colleague, Lionel Scaloni, has already shown his versatility to try out different tactical schemes depending on the opponent and, barring Messi, there are no untouchables in his eleven.
Next, a review of the party’s keys.
For many, this has been the best World Cup the Argentine star has played in five matches in his career. He himself admits that at the age of 35, he is enjoying playing like never before.
With three cries in Qatar, he reached nine goals in World Cups and surpassed the legendary Diego Maradona. He is one away from equaling striker Gabriel Batistuta’s record as Argentina’s top scorer at the World Cup.
But Van Gaal has said that Messi “doesn’t participate much in the game when the opponent is in possession. That’s where we have our chance”, implying that Argentina is not cooperating in the recovery.
The Barcelona midfielder leads the game in the Netherlands. In a team that doesn’t press high and attack spaces, if De Jong gets a free pass, he can damage the Albiceleste defense with accurate passes to scorers Memphis Depay and Cody Gapko.
One of the variants that Scaloni analyzed is to change the scheme and play with four midfielders, so that Enzo Fernández is de Jong’s shadow. With this plan, Leandro Paredes would return to the title to produce the game.
dumfries, ls de van gaal
The full-back is another attacker on the right wing and was a figure in the victory over the United States in the round of 16 with a goal and two assists. Such is the view expressed by Van Gaal about the Inter Milan defender, who thanked him at a subsequent press conference.
Marcos Acuña or Nicolas Tagliafico are going to guard that area. If he recovers from a hamstring injury, winger Ángel Di María will force Dumfries not to neglect his back.
The 22-year-old striker is a nuisance for the opposition defence. Press high on the output and force error. Argentina’s second goal against Australia, authored by him, exemplifies this quality.
He would like to avoid a good first pass provided by Virgil van Dijk from below.