Netherlands v Argentina preview: Van Persie doubt for Dutch

Netherlands' coach Louis van Gaal leads his team in a training session.
Netherlands' coach Louis van Gaal leads his team in a training session.
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Louis van Gaal will make a late call on whether to start with Robin van Persie, who is a major doubt for Holland’s World Cup semi-final against Argentina because of an upset stomach.

Van Persie trained separately from his team-mates on the eve of the match in Sao Paulo after complaining that he felt unwell.

“He has a stomach problem, an intestinal problem. I don’t know (if he will play),’’ Holland coach Van Gaal told a press conference.

“I will decide (on Wednesday).

“Van Persie is our captain so he is very important to us.

“In principle my captain always plays, but he has to be fit.’’

Should Van Persie be ruled out, it would be a massive blow for the Dutch.

Van Gaal was given at least one bit of good news on Tuesday when midfielder Nigel De Jong took part in training.

De Jong tore a groin muscle in Holland’s match against Mexico, but the former Manchester City man trained with his team-mates at the Arena Corinthians on Tuesday and could feature.

“If his reaction is good and he can play, then the miracle can come true,’’ Van Gaal said.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella will also be without a key man on Wednesday - Angel Di Maria, who has been ruled out with a thigh injury.

But Sergio Aguero looks set to return to the starting XI to ease the burden on Lionel Messi’s shoulders.

If Messi was feeling any nerves on the eve of the semi-final in Sao Paulo then he was not showing it.

“I am feeling positive pressure,’’ Messi said.

“It’s a great honour to be captain of Argentina. I want to pay back the trust given in me leading Argentina to the World Cup.’’

Messi’s trophy cabinet is packed full of accolades, but there is still one thing missing - a World Cup winner’s medal.

The Barcelona star, who has scored four goals in Brazil this summer, admits it would be a dream come true to reach the Maracana final on July 13.

“As a player winning a World Cup is the best there is,’’ the Argentina captain said in an adidas interview published on AS.

“It’s something you dream about when you are a kid and it never disappears.

“I have asked my Barcelona team-mates Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Gerard) Pique what it is like to lift the trophy, and they couldn’t explain it.

“We will do everything to make this dream a reality.

“To play a World Cup final with the great atmosphere of the Maracana is something that every player dreams of, but first we have to make sure we get there.’’

Matthew Pennington.

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