Higuain, Maaskant go head-to-head in 2014 FIFA World Cup Semifinal
With Eric Gehrig's Germany through, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is guaranteed to produce a champion with a Crew tie-in. That's because Federico Higuain's Argentina is set to face Robert Maaskant's Netherlands in the second Semifinal, kicking off at 4:00 p.m. ET today.
This is the first time that Higuain's Argentina has progressed this far in the FIFA World Cup since 1990, when they were runners-up to Germany.
"For us, everyone knows that Argentina is rich in football and its tradition," said Higuain, speaking through a translator. "It's very important that Argentina does well in the World Cup, just like they're doing right now."
The Crew's number 10 has liked what he has seen from his nation's side, and although he is confident in its ability to earn a trip to the Final, he cautions that it won't be easy.
"I am confident that we will have a good match, but at the same time you have to respect a team like [the Netherlands]. They have players in each line of the pitch that can be very effective. Argentina is playing a good style of football right now, just like the Dutch. Yes, I'm confident, but you don't stop respecting a team like that."
Although Maaskant's Netherlands were runners-up in 2010, the Crew Assistant Coach is less confident in his nation's ability to nab a victory today.
"Realistic," said Maaskant, when asked for his feelings ahead of the match. "I think that Holland making it to the Semifinals is fantastic. Nobody expected this with such a young team. I said before, we have two-three players who can win any game for us, and that's what happened so far with Robben and van Persie.
"Like I said, I'm realistic, and I think Argentina will be just a little bit too much for us, but again, we still can have one or two moments in the game where we can be decisive and win it. It's going to be exciting."
Similar to how Neymar missed yesterday's match for Brazil, Argentina suffered a major injury blow with the news that Angel Di Maria would be on the sidelines. Maaskant admits that helps the Dutch, but still thinks Argentina looks strong.
"Argentina has a good team," said Maaskant. "They have very experienced players and winners in the team. I must say, Di Maria was in great form, so [the injury] does help, but they have tons of good players playing all over the world. Just one player being out is not going to change that much."
Both Higuain and Maaskant had special ties in their nations' respective Quarterfinal victories. Higuain's brother Gonzalo scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for Argentina over Belgium.
"With [Gonzalo] being my family and my brother, I'm proud," said Higuain. "There's no way that I'm not proud of him. In this World Cup he has one goal, and the goal came in a game where we needed it. Last World Cup, he had four goals. He just got back from injury this year. I'm very proud to see him score and do well now. He has the confidence boost. He's more optimistic. For us Argentinians, and as well as for me with him being my brother, I'm very proud."
Additionally, Maaskant's Dutch went head-to-head with a player that he coaches in Giancarlo Gonzalez.
"I love to see Pipo do well, and I think he did well, so that was good for him, but I also wanted to him lose," laughed Maaskant. "I wanted him to lose badly!
"That was probably the only game where the Dutch team was so much better, [against] Costa Rica. We really played well. We should have finished that game way earlier and not gotten into a penalty shootout at the end. That gives us hope a little bit, but Argentina will be a different story. That's a much better team. This is probably the strongest team we are going to play in the World Cup."