Star striker Lionel Messi will leave no stone unturned to keep his dream of becoming world champions alive when Argentina take on the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the World Cup football tournament here on Friday. The quarter-finals are being billed as Messi vs Virgil van Dijk, youngest coach vs oldest World Cup coach and South America vs Europe. This possibility adds new dimensions to this match that any further match could be Messi’s last match in the World Cup.
Seven-time World Player of the Year Messi is just three wins away from realizing his dream of winning the World Cup but two people could stand in his way. The first one is Van Dijk who has been regarded as one of the best defenders in the world for the last five years. The only person who can stop Messi from his trademark dribble is Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk, who also has a great understanding of the game. The other person is Louis Van Gaal. The 71-year-old coach is known to be an extremely shrewd strategist and will field the Netherlands players with the right strategy against Messi.
Argentina’s Angel Di Maria, however, tried to start a war of words by saying that Van Gaal was the worst coach he had played under. Di Maria and Van Gaal were together at Manchester United in 2014–15. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, on the other hand, is 44 years old and has little coaching experience. He took charge of his country’s senior team for the first time in 2018. In contrast, Van Gaal has 26 years of coaching experience.
Argentina, however, won the Copa America last year under Scoloni as coach, their first major tournament title since 1993.Not only this, he played an important role in taking his team to the knockout stage after being the victim of an upset in the first match against Saudi Arabia in the current World Cup. Argentina and the Netherlands have faced each other before in big World Cup matches. These include the 1978 final in which Argentina won. The Netherlands defeated Argentina in the last 16 match in 1998, but the South American team managed to defeat their opponents in a penalty shootout in the 2014 semi-finals.
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Messi also played in that match and even then the coach of Netherlands was Van Gaal. The Netherlands then contained Messi well but the Argentine star is set to produce his best performance after eight years. He made it clear that he is determined to make his dream of winning the World Cup a reality by showing excellent performance against Australia in the last 16.