Argentina 2-1 Netherlands: What's your prediction?
Lionel Messi's hopes of winning an elusive World Cup will come up against the tactical scheming of veteran coach Louis van Gaal as Argentina face the Netherlands in Friday's quarter-final at Lusail.
Messi, 35, once again carries his nation's hopes on his shoulders as he looks to crown an extraordinary career that includes seven Ballon d'Or awards and multiple club titles, but only one Copa America to show for his efforts with Argentina.
Messi can expect little in the way of sympathy from the 71-year-old Van Gaal, who is determined to give the Dutch their first World Cup title after runners-up finishes in 1974, 1978 and 2010.
The coach's planning will largely focus on containing Messi and catching Argentina on the break, as Van Gaal thumbs his nose at his critics by playing a brand of football at odds with the usual attacking Dutch approach.
The tactical plan is key to his side's hopes of winning on Friday as the Dutch look to take revenge for their semi-final defeat in 2014 when Argentina beat them in a shootout.
"We can surprise teams with our plan. We were also the better team then and Messi didn't see much of the ball," the coach told reporters this week.
He can also point to a run of form that has seen the Dutch go 19 games without defeat since he returned to the hot seat for a third spell 15 months ago.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is still sweating on the fitness of Angel di Maria, who missed the Australia game due to a left thigh injury but returned to training on Tuesday.
10th December, Saturday, 01:00 am, Bangladesh time
Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar
Netherlands: (3-4-1-2) Noppert (GK) Timber, Van Dijk, Ake, Dumfries, De Jong, De Roon, Blind, Klaassen, Gakpo, Depay
Argentina: (4-3-3) Martinez (GK), Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna, Fernandez, De Paul, Mac Allister, Gomez, Messi, Alvarez
* This will be the sixth World Cup meeting between the two countries, the first being a 4-0 win for the Dutch in Gelsenkirchen in 1974 and the last two having ended goalless in Frankfurt in 2006 and Sao Paulo in 2014.
* The Netherlands are on a 19-match unbeaten run since elimination from the European Championship last year while Argentina have bounced back from defeat in their opening match in Qatar to Saudi Arabia, which ended their stretch of 36 internationals without defeat.
* Argentina's first World Cup success in 1978 came at the expense of the Dutch in the final as Mario Kempes scored twice and the home side won 3-1 after extra time. Argentina also won the 1986 World Cup, while the Dutch have been runners-up three times, in 1974, 1978 and 2010.
* Lionel Messi has scored nine goals in 23 matches at the World Cup, spanning five editions (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022) and is one behind Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's top scorer in the tournament
* The Netherlands have lost two of three previous penalty shootout contests at the World Cup, in 1998 to Brazil and 2014 to Argentina. Their lone success was against Costa Rica in 2014.
Previous meetings: The Netherlands have lost only one of the previous nine games against Argentina - the 1978 World Cup final in Buenos Aires - though they have been beaten in a shootout on two occasions. The two countries played out a goalless draw in their last meeting in Sao Paulo in the 2014 semi-final after which Argentina won on penalties.