Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has praised Argentina icon Lionel Messi but claims that his side are not worried about him ahead of their quarterfinals at the FIFA World Cup.
Louis van Gaal’s side sealed their place in the quarterfinals with an impressive 3-1 win over the USA in the last 16.
Meanwhile, La Albiceleste beat Australia 2-1 to confirm a meeting with the Netherlands on Friday, 9 December.
Lionel Messi is playing in his fifth and final FIFA World Cup tournament.
He has already bagged three goals and contributed an assist in four appearances.
Van Dijk has lauded the Paris Saint-Germain attacker ahead of their clash on Friday, but claims his side are not worried about him.
The Liverpool defender started by praising the Argentina captain (via Metro):
“He’s one of the best players of all time, obviously. He has done it for so many years.”
However, Van Dijk made the point that Messi and himself are not the only players competing on Friday:
“We are preparing to beat Argentina. Obviously we know how big a part of their success he has been over the years but it’s not about me, or the Netherlands, against Messi, it’s about the Netherlands against Argentina.”
He then touched on the Netherlands’ feelings heading into the encounter with La Albiceleste:
“[We’re not] worried no, but cautious of what Argentina can bring to the game. They are a fantastic team with fantastic players, and we are going to have to do well in all departments of the match.”
“I think that’s very disrespectful from you towards those countries…”
Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk laughs off claims that Argentina will be the first ‘strong’ team his side have faced
Argentina legend Sergio Aguero gives Lionel Messi and co advice over Van Dijk
Aguero, who played against Liverpool’s Van Dijk for several years while at Manchester City, has offered advice to his Argentine compatriots.
Ahead of the quarterfinal encounter between the two nations, Aguero told ESPN:
“He is not fast; he has long legs: 10 sprints from me are two from him. You have to distract him with something else… someone to yell at him from the stands. If I’m there, I’ll start talking to him there.”
“He’s big. Once in the Premier League, he said that the most difficult to score was me. He plays with your physique; that is, he is measuring you and you have to find a manoeuvre for him and do it to him so that he eats it because he is not one to go out and push.”
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