Messi must emulate Kempes in rerun of 1978 World Cup final
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. No footballing cliché could apply to a nation more than the Netherlands when it comes to World Cup finals. The Dutch have lost all three they’ve contested, the most famous being against upcoming last four opponents in Brazil, Argentina, in 1978.
It took extra time, but Clockwork Orange succumbed to a South American side on native soil that has names written large in the current host continent’s folklore. Daniel Passarella, arguably the greatest goalscoring defender of all-time, lifted the Jules Rimet trophy before an adoring El Monumental crowd in Buenos Aires because of Mario Kempes’ brace.
Also in the Argentine midfield of 36 years ago was Tottenham cult hero Ossie Ardiles. They took on the architects of Total Football, albeit without leading light Johan Cruyff, who opted to retire from internationals before the tournament. It’s a case of what might have been, had he turned out.
Instead, the spotlight fell on Valencia forward Kempes to seal victory. His first half opener looked to have been enough to give Argentina global glory. Dick Nanninga, off the Dutch bench before the hour mark, had other ideas, however. He levelled with eight minutes left, so the 1978 final went to an additional half hour.
Kempes converted again at a crucial point, right before the midway point of extra time. Right winger Daniel Bertoni rounded off a 3-1 victory with five minutes remaining. It is not Diego Maradona, the player he is so often compared to, that Lionel Messi must emulate if he is send Argentina through to the 2014 final, then.
Tempting odds of 5/1 say Messi can bag a brace or better, against a modern Dutch outfit, which goes 3-4-3 instead of 4-3-3 and has star striker Robin van Persie ready to be the talisman Cruyff couldn’t. A repeat scoreline of Argentina winning 3-1, meanwhile, comes in at 25/1.
Angel Di Maria cannot play the role of Bertoni here, so we have to look to Ezequiel Lavezzi or Sergio Aguero, who may be gambled despite a groin problem, for wide threat. Aguero is 6/1 score last, while Lavezzi is 11/4 in the anytime market.