The Netherlands has some players familiar with Lionel Messi; whether it’s playing alongside the Paris Saint-Germain star or against him, they’ll have their playbook ready for the veteran forward.
Ahead of the Dutch’s quarterfinal matchup on Friday, Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong admitted that he doesn’t know how to stop Messi but added that they would have to find a way to keep the Argentine quiet.
“Argentina is, of course, a top team, but so are we,” de Jong told reporters (h/t ESPN Netherlands). “It will be a very nice match, but I am confident. I think they look at us the same way, so it is fifty-fifty.”
“I think we have to be better as a team, but Messi is, of course, the most dangerous man. I know him, but I don’t know how to stop him.”
While de Jong joked about not knowing how to stop his former Barcelona teammate, he did provide a more serious answer, saying that it would take a team effort to contain the 35-year-old. Messi has been at the center of Argentina’s offense this tournament.
“He has been making a difference for 15 years, so there is not one way to stop him; otherwise, everyone would have done it,” de Jong said. “I think we have to stop him as a team and that is not one person’s job.”
The veteran forward has scored the opening goal in three of the four matches, leading some in the football media to speculate if the CONMEBOL side is relying too much on the goal scorer.
Both nations don’t need much motivation heading into the matchup, as the winner is in the semifinals and will be two wins away from lifting the World Cup trophy.