Argentina vs Netherlands: ‘Aging genius’ Lionel Messi looking to inspire La Celeste



CNN

Lionel Messi and Argentina are three games away from winning the World Cup, but against the Netherlands they will face their toughest test of the tournament so far.

Friday’s quarter-final at Lusail Stadium is a tight affair, not least because of the World Cup history between the two teams.

They last met in the semifinals eight years ago – a goalless game which Argentina eventually won on penalties – and before that they contested two other knockout games: the quarter-finals in 1998 – best remembered for Dennis Bergkamp’s winning goal – and the final in 1978. when Argentina won the World Cup for the first time.

Several key rivals remain at the 2014 conference. For the Netherlands, Louis van Gaal is back as manager and defender Daley Blind remains an integral part of the national team, while Messi is remains Argentina’s explosive and most potent attacking threat.

Much of the focus, as usual, will be on 35-year-old Messi, who has been at the center of Argentina’s best competitive seasons to date.

With three goals – including a superb strike against Mexico and a well-executed performance against Australia – and one assist from four games, Messi is the heartbeat of this Argentina team. , even in the evenings of his work.

“At this point in his career, he’s getting old,” sports scientist Simon Brundish told CNN Sport. “He doesn’t have the ability to do that [Paulo] Dybala in the team would do that, but he’s a smart guy and he’ll win you games. ”

Of course, attention has been drawn to the number of Messi’s moves during Argentina’s World Cup campaign – slowly working his way up the ranks before starting life with opportunities to score fashion points.

Against Australia in the Round of 16, for example, he covered 4,752.7 meters – 300 meters more than anyone else on the field, according to FIFA.

“If you watch Messi closely, you’ll see that he stays in place a lot when the opposition have the ball,” Brundish explained, adding that Messi’s pace also speaks to Argentina’s defensive organization. .

Brundish said: “Argentina have built their system around him so that he doesn’t get involved in the media. However, they are not a very pressing team…

Both teams have had problems in Qatar – Argentina’s surprise defeat against Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands’ against Ecuador – and both are hoping to reach the last four for the first time since 2014.

Julián Álvarez looks to dominate the ball against Australia.

The Netherlands look impressive going forward with Cody Gakpo, who has three goals to his name at the World Cup, and Memphis Depay, who completed a brilliant performance against the USA 16 years ago.

But Argentina are confident their star striker can add to his goalscoring haul by unlocking the Netherlands’ defense three times at the back.

“Leo surprises you every day with the things he does,” midfielder Alexis Mac Allister told reporters on Thursday. You can see that he is happy, and for us, that is very important.

However, this Argentinian team does not only have Messi. Midfielder Enzo Fernández and striker Julián Álvarez have had impressive campaigns and goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez produced some crucial saves, especially against Australia.

“It’s not about me, or the Netherlands, against Messi, it’s about the Netherlands against Argentina,” Netherlands manager Virgil van Dijk told reporters this week, according to Reuters. “They are a good team with good players and we will have to perform well in all areas of the game.”

Virgil van Dijk trains before the quarter-final between the Netherlands and Argentina.

Having lost the last three World Cups and failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament, van Gaal’s side may feel they have unfinished business in Qatar.

Data insight company Nielsen has Argentina favorites in the quarterfinals with a 58% chance of advancing, but neither side has had a chance to test itself against one of the competition’s top teams.

But that is about to change. The winner of Friday’s game will likely face Brazil in the semi-finals, although the five-time champions will have to get past Croatia in their first quarter-final.

Brazil vs. Croatia: 10 am ET at Education City Stadium

Argentina vs. Netherlands: 2 pm ET at Lusail Stadium

US: Fox Sports

UK: BBC or ITV

Australia: SBS

Brazil: SportTV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media

South Africa: SABC

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Also Read :  World Cup quarter-final predictions: England to beat France in extra time while Portugal to overcome Morocco | Football News

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