AS THE World Cup competition nears its finale this weekend, the competition is heating up on and off the pitch. Germany may have blown Brazil out of their own country in the semi-finals, but yesterday's Heidi Klum/Cintia Dicker face-off is still up in the air.
But another day, another showdown. At this specific moment, Argentina and Netherlands are vying for a spot in the finals against the goal-hungry (to put it mildly) Germany. So it's follows that we would want to weigh each country’s valor by those of the SI Swimsuit models, past and present, that call those countries home. Prepare for some high-level scouting and analysis.
First, let's take a look at the favorites: Representing the White and Sky Blue is the original Argentine supermodel model Valeria Mazza, SI Swimsuit 2014 Legend Yamila Diaz-Rahi and the ever-so-sultry Yesica Toscanini and Lujan Fernandez.
Valeria is the Lionel Messi of the pack. In '96, she rocked our cover in a skimpy leopard print number alongside Tyra Banks. Valeria kicked off her modeling career in 1986, so it's no coincidence that Argentina brought the World Cup home later that year. The legendary blonde continues to smolder at the age of 42. She’s got the experience and the legs to lead Argentina in this match-up.
Every good captain needs a solid supporting cast, just like Messi has Sergio Aguero, Valeria has the gorgeous brunette Yamila to back the Argentine model squad.
GALLERY: Meet Team Argentina (FULL SIZE)
Yamila, like her country, has two major titles: she’s been on the cover twice while Argentina has two World Cup Championships. She was red hot on cover in 2002 and again four years later when she was picked to co-star on the cover of the All-Star issue. No stranger to the world of soccer, Yamila is rumored to be dating Juan Riquelme, who represented the country in the 2006 Cup. Yamila’s lethal cover history and steamy footballer romance only reinforce the already-strong case for La Albiceleste.
Argentina isn't just stacked in the superstar department; their bench is something to behold as well. With five appearances between the two of them, Yesica and Lujan have made significant contributions to the Argentine cause. You might recognize Yesica from her role in Enrique Iglesias’s music video for "Do You Know?" and Lujan from her multiple covers on some of the world's most esteemed glossies. These two stunners provide that extra dose of brown-eyed girl charm to an already dreamy roster.
Now we turn to the underdogs: Netherlands. The Dutch ladies, much like the countries’ national team, have been in the finals often, but have never won the championship (the Cup or the Cover).
Also, very similarly to the national team, the swimsuit models of the Netherlands lack distinct leadership. Just as the Flying Dutchmen have been assigned the dubious title of “best team to never win a cup,” so are their models when it comes to the cover.
Valerie van der Graaf made her first appearance in SI just this year. Discovered via social media, the bodacious blonde has been lighting up Twitter and Instagram during the World Cup to cheer on her country (and such images are crucial in winning the hearts of the masses).
When looking on the Netherlands side, you can’t forget two more of this year’s rookies Marloes Horst and Bregje Heinen, who, while new to the franchise, have no doubt made their mark with only one appearance each.
GALLERY: Meet Team Netherlands (FULL SIZE)
Karen Mulder, while a card-carrying member of the elite 1990s sorority of "Supermodels," she has only two SI Swimsuit Issues to her name so her comfort level with the franchise is an unknown; in the same vein, Louise Vyent had a big presence in the 90s, but developed that presence outside of SI Swimsuit. Their lack of familiarity with the brand only adds to the question of whether Holland has enough modern leadership to carry the team. Nevertheless, this squad absolutely has earned their place in our World Cup Model Match-Up.
So tell us . . .