1. Lionel Messi
Let’s start with the obvious one, then.
With Cristiano Ronaldo having long gone home, Luis Suarez exiting in another cloud of controversy and Neymar’s World Cup agonisingly cut short, Lionel Messi is carrying the flag for the world superstars, and he’s flying it high.
The little maestro again shone in the quarter-final win over Belgium, and as the stakes get higher his performances are only likely to improve.
2. Gonzalo Higuain Has Found His Shooting Boots
Forward Gonzalo Higuain scored his first goal of the tournament in the win over Belgium, and now he’s found his shooting boots he is sure to be a threat to the Netherlands in the semi-final.
The Napoli forward was coming in for criticism for his less than impressive displays as Argentina relied on the goals of Messi to get them through the group stages, but now he’s knocked one in that should all change.
3. Javier Mascherano Has Been Immense
Perhaps this team does overly rely on Messi in the forward positions, but the form of Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano in midfield has been key to their progression this far.
The former West Ham and Liverpool man was superb against Belgium, standing up to the greater physical threat of Axel Witsel and Marouane Fellaini and emerging victorious. With central midfield perhaps now the weakest area of the Dutch team following the injury to Nigel de Jong, he’ll be vital in the semi-final again.
4. Sergio Aguero Is Back From Injury
Sergio Aguero is fit again, at least judging by his moves in the dressing room post-Belgium, and he’ll add an even greater threat to an attack now missing Angel di Maria.
Whether or not the Manchester City forward goes straight into the team for the semi-final remains to be seen, but he’ll certainly be a key threat from the bench.
5. They’ve Never Lost A Semi-Final
Argentina have won the World Cup twice, been runners-up once and gone out in the quarter-finals four times, including at both of the last two World Cups.
They’ve never exited a tournament at this stage though, and so with history like that on their side then there’s no doubt that they are worthy favourites.
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