Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk spoke to the media two days before he and his teammates will face Argentina in the quarter finals of the World Cup. One name in particular cropped up several times during the defender’s meeting with the media – Lionel Messi. He was asked whether Messi is what worries the Dutch the most.
“Messi is one of the best players in the world. Together with Cristiano Ronaldo he is one of the best players of the last decades. There is only respect for what he has achieved. But now we are preparing not only to play against him but to face Argentina as a team,” Van Dijk replied.
Asked about Messi’s importance for Argentina and the role he will play on Friday, Van Dijk said: “We know that Messi is very good. Argentina has many good footballers who can make a difference. They have several players that we must watch closely. And that’s what we’re going to do. This is not the Netherlands against Messi, but the Netherlands against Argentina”.
Team starting to gel
Van Dijk also answered questions concerning the criticism that the Netherlands team has received for how the team has been playing, in spite of the results. “We also think our game can be improved in recent matches. I think we have improved. There are still areas for improvement. We are all perfectionists and we all want the best. That is part of us. The good news is that we’re still on it. We are in the quarter finals. Hopefully we can win those too and move on.”
Van Dijk also analyzed the possibility of a penalty shoot-out against Argentina. “We have been practicing since the last international break. But that’s no guarantee that things can turn out exactly the same in a stadium full of 80,000 spectators and with a semi-final on the line. Hopefully we don’t have to come to that. But if it comes to penalties, we have to be ready”.
- Van Dijk: “We’re playing against Argentina, not just Messi”
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