Netherlands 0 - 0 Argentina

Match info: World Cup - SF at Novo Estadio do Corinthians

Date: 09/07/2014 KO: 21:00 Ref: C Cakir Att: 63,267

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FT (ht: 0-0)

Argentina win 4-2 on penalties

  • Last Updated: July 9 2014, 20:08 BST

Netherlands skipper Robin van Persie may miss the World Cup semi-final against Argentina because of an upset stomach.

Robin van Persie: Injury doubt for World Cup semi-final
Robin van Persie: Injury doubt for World Cup semi-final

The Manchester United striker had to train separately from his team-mates on Tuesday after complaining of a stomach problem.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal confirmed on the eve of the game in Sao Paulo that his star striker, who has scored three goals in Brazil, is a serious doubt for the last-four clash.

Asked if the 30-year-old will, play, Van Gaal said: "He has a stomach problem, an intestinal problem. I don't know.

"I will decide. Van Persie is our captain so he is very important to us. In principle my captain always plays, but he has to be fit."

Van Persie scored twice as Netherlands thrashed reigning champions Spain 5-1 and netted another goal in the 3-2 victory over Australia in his team’s second Group B match.

There was some good news for Van Gaal on Tuesday as injury doubts Ron Vlaar and Leroy Fer took part in training.

In an interesting development, midfielder Nigel de Jong was also involved even though he had been expected to miss the rest of the World Cup after suffering a groin injury in the group stage win over Mexico.

"If his reaction is good and he can play, then the miracle can come true," Van Gaal said.

But even if De Jong makes a shock return to the XI for the Argentina match, it will mean nothing if Van Persie is ruled out.

Holland have relied heavily on the Manchester United striker, and fellow star Arjen Robben, in Brazil.

Both players scored in the penalty shoot out win over Costa Rica which sent the Dutch through to their second successive World Cup semi-final.

That match was a draining affair as Holland battered the Costa Rica goal, but they could not beat Keylor Navas inside 120 minutes.

Van Gaal thinks his players will have recovered their fitness by the time they face Argentina.

"In general I give the players two days to recover, so if you have one day less it's an issue, a problem," Van Gaal said. "But a top athlete can perform so my players will be in shape."

Van Gaal's decision to bring on Tim Krul in the 120th minute of the quarter-final was hailed as a master stroke.

Krul saved two penalties after replacing Jasper Cillessen, but the Newcastle stopper will not start the semi-final.

"No. I ruled that out straight away," said Van Gaal when asked if he would start with Krul.

"Jasper is doing a wonderful job, it was just that stopping a penalty is something that the others (Krul and third choice Michel Vorm) are better at."

Lionel Messi believes winning the World Cup with Argentina would be the greatest achievement of his glittering career.

Argentina will make it through to their first World Cup final in 24 years if they beat Holland.

Messi's trophy cabinet is packed with awards. He has won six Spanish league titles with Barcelona, three Champions Leagues and he has been awarded the Ballon d'Or on three occasions.

But one accolade is missing - the World Cup.

Four years ago, many of Messi's Barcelona team-mates returned to Catalonia with a World Cup winners' medals and now he wants one of his own.

"As a player winning a World Cup is the best there is," the Argentina captain said in an adidas interview published on AS.

"It's something you dream about when you are a kid and it never disappears.

"I have asked my Barcelona team-mates Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Gerard) Pique what it is like to lift the trophy, and they couldn't explain.

"We will do everything to make this dream a reality.

"To play a World Cup final with the great atmosphere of the Maracana is something what every player dreams of, but first we have to make sure we get there."

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella poetically summed up what Messi means to him after the narrow quarter-final win over Belgium.

"He was our water in the desert," Sabella said, reflecting on a first half in which Messi shone while others around him struggled.

Even though Sabella has the likes of Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano and the fit-again Sergio Aguero to call on, his reliance on Messi is clear.

Messi, who has scored four of Argentina's eight goals, could still end the tournament as top scorer, but he is not concerned about individual accolades.

"I'd prefer the World Cup than the golden boot. Always," he said. "I am only concentrating on the team. If we concentrate on our own game and we prepare ourselves tactically then our football will do the talking.

"If I keep scoring goals and that helps the team then that is the most important thing."

Sabella has been boosted by the return of Aguero from a muscle injury for the semi-final.

Di Maria may be out, but impressive full-back Marcos Rojo returns from suspension.