NETHERLANDS VS. ARGENTINA
Where: Sao Paulo. Time: 1 p.m. PDT. TV: ESPN, Univision.
The buzz: There's some history between these teams, not all of it good.
The last time they met in the elimination round of a World Cup, the Netherlands won after goalie Edwin van der Sar, whose team was playing a man down, baited Argentine playmaker Ariel Ortega into head-butting him. Ortega was ejected, leaving the teams at even strength, and moments later Dennis Bergkamp scored the deciding goal.
How much that 1998 quarterfinal matters is hard to say since Netherlands stars Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben were only 14 then and Argentina's Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain were 10 or 11.
But whatever memories people have of that game were rekindled in the quarterfinals of this World Cup when Dutch goalie Tim Krul unnerved his Costa Rican opponents by taunting them through the shootout that got the Netherlands to this game.
"I am trying, obviously, to get into their heads and it works," Krul said. "I use everything in my power to make it happen."
That wasn't the first time the Netherlands appeared to use — um, let's call it showmanship — to advance in this World Cup. In the round of 16, it trailed Mexico with two minutes left in regulation before tying the score, then going on to win it after Robben won a controversial penalty kick with a dive in the box.
The Dutch, whose only loss in the last two World Cups came in the 2010 final with Spain in extra time, started this tournament like gangbusters, blitzing Spain, 5-1, in their opener. But despite a potent attack led by Van Persie (three goals), Robben (three goals) and Wesley Sneijder (one goal), they've scored only once in regulation time in two knockout-stage games.
Argentina, the only team to win all five of its games in Brazil, won them all by only a goal despite getting four goals from Messi in group play.
Messi will be counted on heavily against the Netherlands since Argentina will be without its chief playmaker, Real Madrid midfielder Angel Di Maria. That loss could be tempered somewhat for Argentina by the expected return of Manchester City striker Aguero and the return to form of forward Higuain, whose game winner against Belgium last week was his first goal of this World Cup. The Dutch will again be without defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong.
Both teams can probably expect another tight, low-scoring game since forecasters are calling for temperatures in the low 60s and a 70% chance of rain.