DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi up in opposition to Virgil van Dijk. The youngest coach on the World Cup taking over the oldest. South America versus Europe. A again catalog of well-known conferences.
The quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands on Friday has all of the components of a basic.
And the potential of it being Messi’s ultimate recreation on soccer’s largest stage simply provides to the anticipation.
The seven-time world participant of the 12 months is three wins away from attaining his final dream however he has two individuals, specifically, blocking his path.
First, the not inconsiderable body of Van Dijk, who has been one of many world’s greatest defenders over the previous 5 years. If there’s anybody capable of cease Messi on certainly one of his trademark dribbles, it’s the swish Liverpool middle again who combines tempo with an awesome studying of the sport.
After which there’s Louis van Gaal, the wily tactician who’s 71, has lately undergone profitable remedy for prostate most cancers, and is now plotting to win the World Cup in maybe the ultimate job of his 26-year teaching profession.
Van Gaal, who has lengthy been one of the charismatic characters in soccer, is approaching this process with a variety of enjoyable — even on the eve of one of many largest matches of his profession.
On Thursday, he was informed that Angel Di Maria, who performs for Argentina, thinks he’s the worst coach he has ever performed underneath following their time collectively at Manchester United in 2014-15.
Van Gaal mentioned it was a pity Di Maria felt this manner — “he is without doubt one of the few gamers to have mentioned that,” he remarked, “as normally it’s the different method spherical” — and added he as soon as had a falling-out with Netherlands captain Memphis Depay, who was sitting subsequent to him.
“Now we kiss one another,” Van Gaal mentioned, leaning towards Depay together with his arms out.
Van Gaal was additionally requested how he was planning to cease Messi — a query for which many coaches down the years have did not give you a solution.
“It’d be fairly silly to disclose your individual techniques,” he mentioned, smiling. “But it surely’s not that tough to give you any reply. You may have give you a solution your self. You could wish to block and shut the passing strains. Am I proper, Memphis?”
As for his Argentina counterpart, the 44-year-old Lionel Scaloni is a comparative novice after taking cost of his nation in 2018 for his first senior teaching function. Nonetheless, he has already led Argentina to the Copa America title final 12 months — the nation’s first main trophy since 1993 — and has managed to regular his crew after a surprising loss to Saudi Arabia in its opening group recreation.
Whereas Van Gaal was predicting a decent match that shall be settled by a “decisive second,” Scaloni mentioned it will likely be a “lovely recreation as a result of we’re speaking about two nationwide groups prepared to assault however who can even defend.”
It’s set to be a conflict of types between two of soccer’s historic powerhouses, with Argentina — a two-time champion — preferring to play a possession recreation and the Dutch — 3 times a crushed finalist — now sometimes enjoying on the counterattack underneath Van Gaal.
They’ve met in some high-profile World Cup video games, none larger than the 1978 ultimate gained by Argentina on house soil. There was additionally a last-16 match in 1998, gained by the Netherlands due to an exquisite Ninetieth-minute purpose by Dennis Bergkamp, after which a penalty-shootout win by Argentina within the semifinals in 2014.
Messi performed in that recreation and was saved comparatively quiet by a crew additionally coached by Van Gaal. Eight years later, Messi remains to be Argentina’s star participant and put in his greatest efficiency on this World Cup within the 2-1 win over Australia within the spherical of 16.
“The match is beginning tomorrow for us, for actual,” Van Gaal mentioned. “Though I don’t wish to downplay the significance of the opposite international locations we now have crushed, Argentina after which doubtlessly Brazil within the subsequent spherical are completely different international locations than these we performed to this point.”
Scaloni was pressed on the health of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, who is perhaps a doubt in accordance with some experiences within the Argentine media, however gave little away.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
AP World Cup protection: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports