Argentina and the Netherlands are the titans of world football, making this one of the most glamorous ties in world soccer. There have been 17 Argentina vs Netherlands matchups across competitive and friendly football games.
And you won’t struggle to find quality play, magical moments, and the occasional brawl from this cutthroat rivalry in the beautiful game. Even so, it’s hard for any game to top the 1978 World Cup final between Argentina and the Netherlands.
We highlight the various Argentina and Netherlands football tie-ups on the world stage, giving special attention to the 1978 iteration.
Argentina vs Netherlands – Road to World Cup Final, 1978
To reach the final, Argentina had to overcome Hungary, France, and Italy in the first round. The Netherlands faced Iran, Peru, and Scotland in the first round. Argentina’s second-round opponents included Poland, Brazil, and Peru, while the Netherlands played Austria, West Germany, and Italy.
Coming to the final on the back of a resounding 6-0 victory over Peru, Argentina was buoyed by the form of Mario Kempes and a productive attacking unit. Kempes would win the Golden Shoe at the tournament, with his six goals topping the scoring charts.
Coming against the Netherlands’ “total football” philosophy, Argentina has long been accused of employing dark, ugly arts to gain an advantage, including time-wasting and delaying their entry onto the field for the game.
This bore fruit in the 38th minute when Mario Kempes opened the scoring to give Argentina a deserved first-half lead, thanks to a delightful Leopoldo Luque assist.
The match, played on 25 June 1978 at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci in Buenos Aires, had two bookings in the opening period.
The Netherlands’ defender, Ruud Krol, was cautioned in the 5th minute of the contest, with Argentina’s Osvaldo Cesar Ardiles booked in the 40th minute as a feisty, closely competed half wound towards the interval.
The second half began much in the same fashion as the first had ended. The Dutch players toiled and battled hard to find an equalizer, while the hosts seemed content to waste time with fake injuries and consistent breaks in play.
This did not dampen the attacking threat from Argentina’s formidable attack, albeit with a more measured approach and at far more restrained frequency. The second half is more memorable for the flurry of substitutions and breakages in play than anything else. Until the 82nd-minute equalizer, that is.
However, one of the pivotal moments of the final came in the 58th minute. Ernst Happel, the Netherlands team manager, subbed on Dick Nanniga in place of Johnny Rep, injecting new impetus into his attacking unit.
With 8 minutes of normal time remaining, Dick Nanniga, who’d been on the field for less than half an hour, turned home Rene van de Kerkhof’s exceptional pass to draw the Netherlands level with their hosts.
With Argentina and Netherlands locked at 1-1 and the hosts rattled, the Dutch almost nicked a probable winner late into stoppage time. However, Rob Rensenbrink’s fierce shot for the Netherlands struck a post and deflected wide, pushing the fierce contest into extra time.
Mario Kempes was the undisputed hero for Argentina, the host nation. Having been pegged back by Dick Nanniga’s late leveler and survived Rob Rensenbrink’s coming close to scoring, Argentina would retake the lead 15 minutes into extra time.
The extra time period was more reminiscent of the first half than the second, with tackles flying and the referee cautioning players with regularity. Indeed, both Wim Suurbier and Jan Poortvliet saw yellow for the Netherlands in the 94th and 97th minute, respectively.
Sandwiched between the Dutch cautions was one for Argentina’s Omar Larossa in the 94th minute, as neither side seemed keen to give up anything as the contest neared a conclusion.
However, that changed in the 105th minute as the excellent Mario Kempes bundled Argentina back in front with his second goal of the day. The goal also propelled Kempes to the tournament top scorer and winner of the golden shoe.
10 minutes later, Daniel Bertoni turned in a Mario Kempes pass to put the result beyond doubt and end the final as a contest. Feeling aggrieved at perceived injustices, the Netherlands team boycotted the end of the game awards ceremony.
Argentina vs Netherlands — Head To Head
There have been 17 Argentina vs Netherlands match-ups in international football, but only five games have come in the various World Cups. Of the games, the Albicelestes have recorded one win and lost two games to the Dutch Oranjes, with the other two games ending in draws.
The five World Cup games produced 11 goals in total, with Argentina scoring four against the Netherlands’ 7. The teams have also played out two bore draws, the first in the 2006 group stage first round and then in the 2014 semifinals in Brazil, which Argentina won 4-2 on penalties.
The first Argentina vs Netherlands game at the World Cup came in the second round of group A on 26 June 1974, with Oranjes securing a resounding 4-0 win over Argentina. This game created the platform for the 1978 tie-ups in the tournament final in Buenos Aires, where the hosts Argentina beat the Netherlands 3-1 after extra time. That remains the only Argentina win over the Netherlands at the World Cup in normal (and added) time.
IN SUMMARY: All Argentina vs Netherlands games at FIFA World Cup tournaments
|June 26, 1974||2nd Round, Group A||Argentina 0 - 4 Netherlands|
|June 25, 1978||Final||Argentina 3 - 1 Netherlands (after extra time)|
|July 04, 1998||Quarter Finals||Argentina 1 - 2 Netherlands|
|June 21, 2006||1st Round, Group C||Argentina 0 - 0 Netherlands|
|July 09, 2014||Semifinals||Argentina 0 - 0 Netherlands
( Argentina win 4 - 2 on penalties)
The 1978 Argentina vs Netherlands World Cup final was as controversial as the tournament, with various accusations rampant across the various stages. On the football side, however, this was as competitive a match as any the World Cup has come to expect.
You bet this game was exceedingly similar to the modern game from stalling before the match and accusations of heightened timewasting. What’s better? In continuation of the two team’s rich football history, the next installment may not be too far away. Indeed, the 2022 World Cup could potentially see another Argentia vs. Netherlands tie-up in the quarters or semi-finals.