Olympic Preview: Argentina - Netherlands

What: 2008 Olympic Games quarter-final
Who: Argentina (1st, Group A, 9/9pts) vs Netherlands (2nd, Group B, 5/9pts)
When: Saturday 16 August 21:00 China Standard Time
Where: Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai
Referee: Jair Maruffo (USA)

The 1978 World Cup final. The 1974 group stage game - the nadir of Argentine football. The bitter, 0-0 draw of 2006. The drama of France '98. Few matches in global football can match the thrills of Argentina versus the Netherlands, and neutrals will be hoping for a similarly enthralling contest as the two sides face off in Shanghai...

The Youth Of Today

As expected, Sergio Batista's young albiceleste scaled through to the quarter-finals untroubled by dropped points. After almost stumbling against the Ivory Coast in their first match, Argentina managed two wins over Australia and Serbia to secure nine points from nine and put them in good stead for the knockout rounds.

It hasn't quite been the goal-fest that many anticipated, though. Leo Messi, who was rested against Serbia, has scored just once; Sergio Agüero has yet to net at all. Nonetheless the squad has picked up no injuries and must be high on confidence.

Coach Batista told, though, that this was by no means a simply game. "We mustn't underestimate the Netherlands, a team with great individuals and who play great football," he said.

"We're Argentina and as such we're aiming for gold, but we'll respect every opponent that crosses our path. That is our formula."

New Horizons

The Dutch have a global reputation for bringing through young talent, but for some reason the current Olympian crop has not performed to expectations. Only a late, late goal from Gerald Sibon spared the Oranje from

Perhaps it's down to complacency. Foppe de Haan's men, following their boss' example, seemed to treat the group stage as a formality, managing two draws before snatching a win against Japan - one of the worst teams in the competition - to progress.

Of course Argentina, being the giants of the global game that they are, won't be treated as lightly. But without the experience of the suspended Jaliens and the injured Roy Makaay, the time for the likes of Royston Drenthe to live up to their promise is now.

Players to watch: Lionel Messi will return to the Argentina line-up after missing his side's victory over Serbia due to squad rotation, and with the fans in China enamoured by his presence it will be incumbent on him to put on a show. For the Oranje, Gerald Sibon has been making up for lost time with two goals so far. The 34-year-old journeyman had never pulled on a Dutch jersey before this summer and to see him succeed must delight the fans back home. In the absence of Roy Makaay he'd do well to keep it going.

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Olympic Preview: Argentina - Netherlands Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:00 PM Rating: 5

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