Jul 8, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
Robin van Persie is in a race against time to be fit for the Netherlands’ World Cup semifinal showdown against Argentina on Wednesday.
The Dutch captain has picked up a stomach virus which is threatening to keep him out of the crunch clash with Lionel Messi and the Albiceleste in Sao Paulo.
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RVP, 30, has led the line for Holland throughout the tournament and has scored three goals in four games. Those strikes came in the opening two matches against Spain and Australia but since then the Manchester United forward has looked a little jaded.
This illness could be a reason for that, as Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal revealed in his pre-match press ocnference on Tuesday that Van Persie is struggling to be fit for the semifinal.
“He has a stomach problem, an intestinal problem. I don’t know, ” Van Gaal said. “I will decide. Van Persie is our captain so he is very important to us. In principle my captain always plays, but he has to be fit.”
Van Gaal was pictured having a stern chat with RVP on the training ground on Tuesday and it seems as though this issue is putting his involvement against Argentina in serious jeopardy.
What other options will LVG have if RVP is out?
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has proved a great alternative off the bench and if RVP isn’t ready to go then the Schalke striker, who came on against Mexico and turned the game in Holland’s favor, will be a more than suitable replacement. With Argentina likely to sit back and soak up Dutch pressure, Huntelaar is difficult to mark and incredibly good in the air. His hold up play could be key if the Dutch work off his touches and the likes of Memphis Depay and Arjen Robben can get into the box.
For now, Holland would love to have their skipper and star striker Van Persie fit. If he isn’t, it’s not the end of the world but it would be a big blow.
Then again, when I think about van Gaal’s antics by bringing on sub goalkeeper Tim Krul for Holland’s World Cup quarterfinal penalty shootout and some of his other tricks over the years, this couldn’t be gamesmanship in trying to psyche out the Argentine defense… Could it?
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