SAO PAULO — Dutch captain and all-time top scorer Robin van Persie is in doubt for the World Cup semifinal against Argentina because of a stomach issue.
Van Persie trained separately Tuesday with defender Daryl Janmaat, and coach Louis van Gaal said both were suffering from stomach and intestinal problems.
“I have to make a decision tomorrow. I’m not going to do that today. We have more than a day,” Van Gaal said. “Van Persie is a very important player for us.”
Van Persie scored three times in the first two Dutch matches of the World Cup, including a spectacular diving header against defending champion Spain that was instantly hailed as one of the goals of the tournament.
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In potential good news for the Dutch, midfield enforcer Nigel de Jong (groin) trained Tuesday and could possibly play against Argentina.
Meanwhile, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella says Enzo Perez is likely to replace injured winger Angel di Maria against the Netherlands. Sabella didn’t give his lineup for the game at Itaquerao Stadium but said Tuesday it is “very probable” that Perez will come in for Di Maria, as he did in the quarterfinal win over Belgium.
• Sabella called Lionel Messi the best player in the world: “(The Netherlands’ Arjen) Robben is a great player. He is very important for Holland, like Neymar is for Brazil and Messi for Argentina. … but Messi is the best of them all.”
• Sabella was just as stunned as everyone else to see Brazil lose 7-1 to Germany in the first semifinal.
“But in football you have to expect these things,” he said. “It’s the most illogical of sports. Things happen that you cannot foresee.”
• Van Gaal had some advice for parents back home: Let your kids stay up late to watch the Netherlands-Argentina match that starts at 10 p.m. Dutch time.
“They wouldn’t sleep anyway,” he said, “because they are so tense to know if the Netherlands will win.”