The Netherlands and Argentina square off later Wednesday afternoon with a spot in the World Cup final on the line, and even though the two teams are separated by a vast expanse of ocean and have only met eight times previously (the Dutch lead the series, 4-1-3), they have a history. So here’s a look at their previous World Cup meetings.
1974 World Cup
FIFA employed an interesting format in 1974, with 16 teams split into four groups for the first round, the top two teams from each group moving on to another round of group play in the second round and the winners of the two second-round groups meeting in the final. Heading in to their second round matchup, Argentina openly scoffed at the Netherlands’ “Total Football” system, but the Dutch answered with a 4-0 whipping on their way to the final, where they would lose to host West Germany.
1978 World Cup
Argentina got its revenge four years later, defeating the Netherlands, 3-1, after extra time to win the World Cup on its home soil. Controversy swirled before and during the 1978 tournament. The Netherlands led a call to boycott the World Cup to protest human rights violations under Argentina’s president, Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla, who had swept into power two years earlier. When the boycott failed to materialize, Holland star Johan Cruyff refused to play. Thirty years later, Cruyff revealed that his personal boycott wasn’t for political reasons, but rather because his family was the subject of an attempted kidnapping one year earlier. Then, needing a four-goal win over Peru in its group-stage finale to advance, Argentina scored a 6-0 victory that was allegedly arranged by Videla. To top it all off, the Netherlands accused Argentina of stalling before the final began in order to build up the tension at River Plate stadium in Buenos Aires. Argentina also questioned the legality of a plaster cast on Rene van de Kerkhof’s wrist, further roiling up the crowd.
1998 World Cup
The teams’ most recent World Cup meeting took place during the 1998 quarterfinals in France and featured one of the more dramatic goals in World Cup history. With the score knotted at 1 late in the second half, the Netherlands’ Frank de Boer lofted a gorgeous pass from beyond midfield that Dennis Bergkamp neatly corralled and sent into the top of the net in the 89th minute, giving Holland a 2-1 victory.
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