Argentina more than Messi, Brazil more than Neymar

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Argentina have also seen good displays from midfielder Enzo Fernandez and young forward Julian Alvarez, who has scored in his last two appearances, reports…Asian Lite News

The Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk has warned that his side will have to beat more than just Lionel Messi when they take on Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals on Friday night.

The Netherlands have progressed calmly into the quarterfinals after beating the United States with an assured and serious display in the last 16, while Argentina were led by an excellent display from Messi against Australia.

Messi was inspirational in what is likely to be his last World Cup appearance, but Van Dijk advised there is more to Argentina.

“Messi is one of the best players. 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 whole,” he told the press two days before the game.

Argentina have also seen good displays from midfielder Enzo Fernandez and young forward Julian Alvarez, who has scored in his last two appearances, reports Xinhua.

“Argentina has many good footballers who can make a difference. They are players we must watch. That’s what we’re going to do. This is not a Holland against Messi, but a Holland against Argentina,” Van Dijk insisted.

The Dutch have been very effective so far in Qatar and are one of four unbeaten sides in the tournament. After topping Group A and beating the U.S., Coach Louis van Gaal said they can win the tournament and Van Dijk believes they have more to give.

“We are all perfectionists and we all want the best. That is part of us. The good thing is that we are still on it. We are in the quarterfinals. Hopefully we can win those too and move on,” he said, adding that although he and his teammates had practiced penalties, it was very different taking them on a training pitch [from] that in a “stadium full of 80,000 spectators and with a semifinal on the line.”

‘Impressive team’

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic has described Brazil as the most impressive team at this World Cup ahead of their quarterfinal clash on Friday.

Croatia advanced to the last eight by beating Japan on penalties in the round of 16 while Brazil progressed with a 4-1 rout of South Korea.

“I believe Brazil are the best team at this World Cup,” Dalic was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. “They play a very versatile brand of football. They are dangerous, and not just because of Neymar and Vinicius Junior. It’s all of them.”

“We can’t afford to leave them too much space. We have to press them high and ensure they don’t control the ball too much. We have to be fully concentrated because if they have time on the ball it will be difficult to stop them.”

Dalic was confident his players would be fresh for the match at Education City stadium here, despite having had just four days to recover from the gruelling duel against Japan.

“We can’t wait for this match,” he said. “We have to recover after the Japan game and there will not be many changes. We’ve done very well to make it this far. We now face one of the great favorites and we’ll fight to make sure we can get the best possible result.”

The 56-year-old added: “I think the match ahead will be the most demanding of the World Cup for us. I can compare it to the final against France four years ago.

“Brazil will pose a big challenge. I wish this match could have come later in the tournament. But our ambitions will not rest there and we’ll be trying our best to win.”

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