In advance of their World Cup match Lionel Messi’s candid assessment of Virgil van Dijk says a lot. Before Argentina’s World Cup quarterfinal matchup against the Netherlands, Lionel Messi expressed his respect for Virgil van Dijk.
Messi continued his stellar play in the World Cup, where he has now scored three goals in four appearances, by cutting the opening goal in his team’s Round of 16 triumphs over Australia. Messi’s goal helped his country advance to the last eight, where they will take on Louis van Gaal’s team.
The 35-year-old attacker scored in Argentina’s shocking opening-match defeat to Saudi Arabia and a crucial win for Lionel Scaloni’s team against Mexico. Although he did not score against Poland, he was essential to his team’s two-goal triumph.
But Argentina’s final eight opponents will be their most demanding World Cup challenge. They are up against a Dutch team that has gone undefeated in the competition and defeated the US in the Round of 16 with a score of 3-1.
In addition to Messi playing in what is almost indeed his final World Cup competition, Van Gaal’s final game as a manager is also likely to coincide with the Netherlands’ campaign concluding.
Messi and his international teammates will have to get past a Dutch defense that has only allowed two goals in their four World Cup games thus far and has proven they can win games through tactical superiority.
Van Dijk is crucial, with the Liverpool defender experiencing a return in form this tournament. He is frequently chosen as the holding defender in a three-man backline that includes Nathan Ake of Manchester City and Jurrien Timber of Ajax.
He is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the ideal opportunity to push or jockey [the attacker],” Messi stated of Van Dijk in a 2019 interview with Marca. Despite being vast and swift, he is surprisingly agile for someone his size. He is noteworthy in offense and defense because of his long stride and prolific goal-scoring.
The Liverpool defender may not perform at those levels after returning from a long-term injury, but Messi was speaking in the year he narrowly beat Van Dijk to the Ballon d’Or award. The Argentine attack will be well aware of the struggle in round eight.