Fighting it out for a place in the World Cup final, Argentina take on the Netherlands in a mouthwatering clash at 21:00 PM on Wednesday night. ITV have the coverage and we have the free World Cup 2014 betting tips.
Already knowing their opponents for the final, these two perennial powerhouses of world football meet for the first time in the World Cup since the quarter-final back in 1998. Back then the game was settled by a wonderful Dennis Bergkamp strike – Did that guy ever score a bad goal?! Now in 2014, and already having exceeded expectations, the Dutch will be looking to book their place in the final and erase any lingering memories of their unfortunate defeat to Spain four years ago.
Despite their electric start to the competition – Three wins from three and ten goals. Form has dipped somewhat for The Oranje. Firstly, they were three minutes from elimination against Mexico before a late rally and inspired substitution saw them over the line. Then most recently, being taken to penalties by tournament sensation Costa Rica. Once again, it took a tactical master-stroke/kamikaze move by Louis Van Gaal in bringing on penalty hero Tim Krul. Whilst the decision may have worked in the short-term thanks to Krul's saves and some of the finest penalty taking you're ever likely to see. One also has to consider the affect the substitution had on first choice keeper Cillessen. I wouldn't be suprised in the slightest if the Ajax stopper was guilty of an absolute howler in the impending semi-final.
In contrast to the Dutch, Argentina also topped their group, albeit rather unconvincingly. Unsurprisingly so, Lionel Messi saved the day with goals in all the group matches as well as skipping past several Swiss players and teeing up Angel Di Maria in their last 16 clash with Switzerland. Last time out Argentina saw off Belgium in a hard fought 1-0 victory. Be it sour grapes or an honest observation, Belgian coach Marc Wilmots branded the Argentinians 'an ordinary side'. Whilst they have not hit the heights expected, an ordinary team they are not. Any line-up with the likes of Messi, Aguero, Higuain, Mascherano and Zabaletta is far from your average eleven. If Alejandro Sabella can get the South American side to click, they will win the World Cup.
Browsing the early prices and there is very little to choose between the two sides. At a best priced 29/20, Argentina are marginal favourites. Holland can be backed at 12/5, which is a very tempting price given the attacking trio of the Dutch side. A popular bet at the moment is the draw (11/5) as half of the knockout games have already gone to extra time. Anyone consistently backing a stalemate will have been laughing all the way to the bank.
Personally, I find this game a really tough one to call. On one hand you have six of the best attacking footballers in the world on show, which certainly points towards a glut of goals. However, as with many of these knockout games, teams just tend to cancel themselves out. The one aspect which is swaying my decision is the way the Dutch performed against Costa Rica. Many of the team looked tired, including Robin van Persie who couldn't hit a barn door on Saturday night. At the start of the tournament, my money went with Argentina, this is also where it will go tomorrow. I may well end up eating some humble pie, but at 29/20 with Bet365, back Argentina to win in 90 minutes.
Moving onto the goalscorer market, trying to pick a first scorer from the plethora of forwards on offer is a little bit of a lottery. However, being that this is a World Cup semi-final, why not treat yourself to a bit of a punt. Obvious choice Lionel Messi is currently experiencing a two game goal drought and the poor chap finds himself at 4/1. Whilst the Barcelona man is likely to take the lions' share of the bets, my head has been turned to Gonzalo Higuain. Despite a horrid start to the competition, the Napoli man was the match winner against Belgium last week. Having browsed his goals record with a fine tooth-comb, one aspect immediately leapt out at me. Of his 22 goals this year, only two of them have been scored out of sequence. By this I mean, scoring multiple goals in matches or in consecutive games. Like many strikers, Higuain is a binge scorer and after a bit of a barron spell, I expect him to be due another cluster of goals. Very kindly priced at 7/1 and 11/4, back him to score first and anytime with Bet365. In the event of a 0-0 'bore draw' the bookmaker will refund all losing bets and hopefully spare me another slice of that pie.
Finally, moving into an underrated market on the books. From Argentina's five games so far, three of these matches have had a goal in the first ten minutes. Despite this statistic, an Argentine goal in the first fifteen minutes is a very enticing 11/2 with William Hill. Given the distinct lack of goals in the knockout stages, we have got to be due a high scoring game. Hopefully Wednesday's clash will be just that.
Argentina v Holland Betting Tips
Argentina to Win in 90 Minutes – Bet Here at 29/20 with Bet365
Higuain to Score First – Bet Here at 7/1 with Bet365
Higuain to Score Anytime – Bet Here at 11/4 with Bet365
Argentina to Score in the First 15 Minutes – Bet Here at 11/2 with William Hill.
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