The Netherlands took a big step forward in terms of performance against USA, but will need to do so again if they want to beat Argentina.

Lionel Messi and co haven't look as good as many expected at the start of the tournament but are showing signs of improvement and still possess an immense amount of talent.

With the Copa America champions not at their best though, the Dutch will very much have their sights set on upsetting the odds and making it to the semi-finals as they have done in the past two World Cups they've competed in.

Last time, it was Argentina that knocked Louis van Gaal and his nation out at that stage, winning on penalties with the scores goalless after 120 minutes.

Here's what the manager needs his team to if he wants to avenge that defeat eight years on.


1. Stop the supply line to Lionel Messi

Let's get the obvious one out of the way first, shall we?

Messi is a bit good, and entirely capable of winning matches on his own. Stopping him from doing so when he already has the ball in a dangerous area is near impossible, so the Dutch need to ensure he gets it in those areas as little as possible.

Van Gaal was able to do so in 2014 by having Nigel de Jong stick to him like glue, and given how effective it was – the PSG man had one shot in 120 minutes – he'll likely employ a similar approach this time around, with Marten de Roon probably being handed the unenviable task.

It takes more than just marking Messi tightly to stop him though. The Netherlands forwards will need to cut off the passing lanes to him when he drops deep, and defenders will have to be ready for the inevitable occasions when he does break through.

We never thought we'd say this, but Virgil van Dijk could learn a thing or two from Ron Vlaar in that regard; the former Aston Villa man produced the performance of his life in Brazil, making some glorious tackles on the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.