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Netherlands vs Argentina preview - Messi dreaming of World Cup win

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by PA

Lionel Messi believes winning the World Cup with Argentina would be the greatest achievement of his glittering career.

Argentina will make it through to their first World Cup final in 24 years if they beat Holland at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

Messi's trophy cabinet is packed with awards. He has won six Spanish league titles with Barcelona, three Champions Leagues and he has been awarded the Ballon d'Or on three occasions.

But one accolade is missing - the World Cup.

Four years ago, many of Messi's Barcelona team-mates returned to Catalonia with a World Cup winners' medals and now he wants one of his own.

"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.

"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 what every player dreams of, but first we have to make sure we get there."

Argentina will, of course, be banking on their talisman to deliver that bit of magic to beat Louis van Gaal's Holland, who have been one of the toughest teams to beat at the World Cup.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella poetically summed up what Messi means to him after the narrow quarter-final win over Belgium.

"He was our water in the desert," Sabella said, reflecting on a first half in which Messi shone while others around him struggled.

Even though Sabella has the likes of Javier Mascherano and the fit-again Sergio Aguero to call on, his reliance on Messi is clear.

Messi, who has scored four of Argentina's eight goals, could still end the tournament as top scorer, but he is not concerned about individual accolades. This is a team game, he insists.

"I'd prefer the World Cup than the golden boot. Always," he said. "I am only concentrating on the team. If we concentrate on our own game and we prepare ourselves tactically then our football will do the talking.

"If I keep scoring goals and that helps the team then that is the most important thing."

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."

Sabella has been boosted by the return of Aguero from a muscle injury for the semi-final.

Angel di Maria may be out, but impressive full-back Marcos Rojo returns from suspension.

Meanwhile, captain Robin van Persie may miss out for Holland as he is struggling with an upset stomach.

Van Persie has been instrumental in Holland's run to the last four of the tournament, but he had to train separately from his team-mates on Tuesday after complaining of a stomach problem.

Coach Louis van Gaal confirmed on the eve of the game in Sao Paulo that his star striker, who has scored three goals in Brazil, is a serious doubt for the last-four clash.

"He has a stomach problem, an intestinal problem. I don't know (if he will play)," 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."

There was some good news for the Holland coach on Tuesday as injury doubts Ron Vlaar and Leroy Fer took part in training.

In an interesting development, midfielder Nigel de Jong was also involved even though he had been expected to miss the rest of the World Cup after suffering a groin injury in the group stage win over Mexico.

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