Offensively, this Dutch team has been geared towards getting Robben driving forward with the ball into space. Once the Bayern man gets it, everything else just seems to fall into place in domino effect fashion.
Robben stretches the defense into uncomfortable positions, dragging players into unfamiliar places on the pitch. That in turn creates space for Sneijder to pick up the ball, who then has options like Van Persie to thread the ball into. It sounds simple, but it’s worked brilliantly for this Netherlands team.
An early goal against Argentina and the Albiceleste would have to come out. The full-backs would push up and in this tournament so far, Javier Mascherano has been left a little exposed by the regular forward forays of the midfield players in front of him. If the Dutch can win the ball back with Argentina up the pitch, Robben will cause major problems when running at Mascherano and the two centre-backs.
But the Dutch will come up against a mercurial forward in the form of Lionel Messi, and if Argentina have too much of the ball, he’ll find a way through even the stingiest of defenses. The diminutive genius has been superb throughout this tournament, and while Van Gaal will undoubtedly have a master-plan to shut down the Barcelona man, it’s easier said than done when it comes to a player that talented. Either way, it’s going to be especially intriguing to see how this Netherlands side go about pinning Messi down.