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RIO DE JANEIRO – The World Cup’s best dribblers — Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben — face off when Argentina and the Netherlands meet in the semifinals.

In Brazil, Robben has been quick, Messi has been quicksilver.

On Wednesday in Sao Paulo, either could turn the semifinal with a dazzling turn of pace or a weaving run to propel his team to the final.

“We have to cut the supply line to Messi,” Netherlands defender Bruno Martins Indi told a Dutch website.

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FC Barcelona superstar Messi led Argentina through the group stage with four goals. He has made 180 passes in his five matches.

The Dutch have divided the goal-scoring duties more evenly — Robben and Robin van Persie have three apiece, and Memphis Depay has two of the team’s total of 12. Bayern Munich winger Robben’s scintillating sprints with the ball have often been the highlights of Netherlands matches.

“We know that we will play against one of the best teams when it comes to counterattacks because of the speed of their men up front,” Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano said. “So we have to take precautions to not give them the possibility to counterattack, to always be well positioned, to not lose balls unnecessarily in areas where there’s a lot of risk.”

Di Stefano, 88, dies

MADRID – Alfredo Di Stefano, the player Real Madrid of Spain has hailed as the most important component in its mid-20th century ascent to becoming a global powerhouse, died Monday, two days after a heart attack. He was 88.

Renowned for his speed, versatility and strategic grasp of the game, he helped Madrid attain five straight European Champions Cups and was voted European player of the year in 1957 and ’59. In a career spanning five teams in three countries — Argentina, Colombia and Spain — from 1945 to 1966, Di Stefano scored 789 goals in 1,090 matches.

Only Raul Gonzalez has scored more goals for Real Madrid than Di Stefano did.


• A senior executive with the official World Cup corporate hospitality provider was arrested in the beachside hotel where FIFA President Sepp Blatter is staying, as part of a Brazilian police investigation into illegal ticket sales.

Ray Whelan, a director of MATCH Services, was arrested at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, the hotel used by senior FIFA officials at the World Cup.

Whelan, 64, was characterized by police investigator Fabio Barucke as being the “facilitator” who allowed a large ring of scalpers to have access to tickets.

• FIFA will not take action against Colombia’s Camilo Zuniga, who injured Neymar and ended the Brazil standout’s World Cup. FIFA said its disciplinary panel “cannot consider this matter” under the rules because the referee saw the challenge by Zuniga and judged it at the time.

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