World Cup Odds: Argentina has the edge in semifinal against the Dutch
Only Brazil was favored ahead of Argentina to win the World Cup in the months leading up to the tournament.
Netherlands, on the other hand, was going off at over 20/1, and was expected to have a tough time escaping a Group B that featured Chile and defending champion Spain.
Each team took a different path to get here, but both teams are now one win away from the 2014 World Cup Final and a date with the Germans.
Argentina was a -145 favorite to win, with the Netherlands going off at +120. On the three-way line, Argentina pays +135, Netherlands pays +215 and the draw is +225. The total is set at two goals.
The final score line of Argentina's 1-0 win over Belgium read similarly to the previous four one-goal wins that the squad had picked up leading up to that quarterfinals game. But in actuality, it was the team's best game of the tournament.
Gonzalo Higuain scored in the eighth minute of the game and Argentina protected the lead beautifully with excellent tempo control and defense. Whereas Lionel Messi had to make brilliant plays to save the team in its other four games, the whole team stepped up with a sound effort against the Belgians.
One of the negatives of the game was an injury suffered by Angel di Maria, who played a great tournament up to this point. Di Maria's injury will keep him out against the Dutch. After having an ineffective group stage and then missing the last game due to injury, Sergio Aguero could return to the lineup on Wednesday and try to find his form when it matters most.
Netherlands did everything but score through 120 minutes of play against Costa Rica, dominating play with 64 percent possession and 20 shots including 15 shots on goal. But the big three of Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder all converted on their penalty kicks en route to a 4-3 penalty kick victory to move into the semifinals.
The Costa Rica game marked the first time in the tournament that the Dutch failed to score two goals as the team scored 12 through its first four games including the 5-1 blowout over Spain.
The best defense against a world-class player like Lionel Messi is to keep the ball off of his feet, which is exactly what the Netherlands will try to do by continuing to hold possession and push the tempo on offense.
On paper, this matchup has the look of a shootout between two high-powered offenses. But Argentina's play throughout the tournament suggests that the team is comfortable defending and picking its spots, and the Netherlands has only scored two goals in the knockout stage thus far. The Dutch offense may be further inhibited if Robin van Persie, who is suddenly a doubt for the game with a stomach bug, isn't at full strength.
With so much star power on the field for both sides, it is fair to assume that the team able to score first will have its work cut out for it in defending that lead.
Netherlands vs. Argentina prediction: 2-1 Argentina