World Cup Netherlands v Argentina tips: Lionel Messi and Memphis Depay to star in potential shootout

Netherlands and Argentina meet in Friday night's mouthwatering quarter-final clash, and football tipster Sergiu Baltuta thinks we could be in for a treat if Lionel Messi and Memphis Depay are on song.

A potential World Cup classic awaits in the quarter finals as Argentina take on the Netherlands in what will be their sixth World Cup encounter, the third most common matchup in the tournament's history, just behind Brazil-Sweden and Argentina-Germany (seven apiece). 

Other than their 3-1 extra-time defeat in the 1978 final, the Netherlands have two wins and two draws, the most recent of which was their goalless draw in their 2014 semi-final that saw Argentina reach the final after penalties. 

It would come as little surprise if Friday night's encounter were to follow a similar dramatic path.

Now, as back in 2014, the Netherlands are led by Louis van Gaal, with the 71- year- old enjoying his third stint as head coach and he has yet to taste defeat in regular play in eleven World Cup ties (eight wins, three draws). 

Statistics appear to lean in favour of the Netherlands, who have managed to progress to the semis from their last three quarter-final appearances (1998, 2010 and 2014), while Argentina have lost three of their last four quarter-finals, the exception being in 2014 when they managed to beat Belgium on their way past the Dutch to the final.

Netherlands are currently undefeated since losing to the Czech Republic at the 2020 Euros, and they brought that form to this tournament, qualifying easily from their group which included Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar.

In their last-16 tie against the USA, the Dutch managed another comfortable 3-1 win that included a goal and two assists from man of the match, Denzel Dumfries. 

The team's top scorer at the World Cup is Cody Gakpo with three goals from midfield, but the main danger for Argentina is likely to be a fit-again Memphis Depay.

The Barcelona player has contributed 24 goals and ten assists in his last 30 international appearances, and after round off a 21-pass move to score the best team goal of the tournament so far, he looks ready to add to those impressive stats.

The memory of Argentina's shocking first-game defeat against Saudi Arabia was soon laid to rest when they bounced back to top their group, thanks to wins over Mexico and Poland by the same 2-0 scoreline.

In the round of 16, Lionel Scaloni's team beat Australia far more comfortably than the eventual 2-1 scoreline suggests, with Lionel Messi back to his mercurial best to open the scoring with his first ever World Cup goal beyond the group stage.

The other goal was an opportunistic effort from Julian Alvarez, who was preferred by Scaloni to Lautaro Martínez for the second time, and will probably keep his place up front again, especially when Lautaro failed to capitalise on some gilt-edged chances after coming off the bench. 

Alvarez and Messi appear to be in sync as Argentina's best attacking option, and they could well be the deciding factor again in giving Argentina's vociferous fans something to cheer about.

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