Jurrien Timber on facing Messi: “I’m not scared”
The Netherlands face Argentina on Friday in the World Cup quarterfinals and stopping Lionel Messi is never easy, but Timber is not afraid.
The Netherlands and Argentina will meet at Lusail Stadium on Friday, December 9 for the World Cup quarterfinals. Both teams sealed their spot on Saturday in the last eight of the competition with an Argentina victory over Australia and Netherlands win over the USA.
Argentina and the Netherlands met in the quarterfinals back in 1998 and the Netherlands got the victory when Dennis Bergkamp made a classic game-winning goal in the 90th minute. The last time they faced each other though was more recently, when they played each other in the 2014 World Cup semifinal, and Argentina won on a penalty shootout.
Argentina vs the Netherlands
Lionel Messi, who is playing in his last World Cup competition, said he expects a “really tough clash” with the Netherlands.
“They have great players and a great coach. It’s going to be hard-fought.,” said Messi. “It’s the quarter-finals of a World Cup and if a World Cup has been tough from the start, it gets even tougher at this stage.”
Messi has unsurprisingly had a great World Cup so far, scoring three goals in four games. He was the first to find the net in Argentina’s upset opener loss to Saudi Arabia, found it again in their critical group stage victory over Mexico, and finally, scored the opening goal in their round of 16 victory over Australia. It goes without saying that Messi is a vital asset to this Argentina team.
Netherlands player Virgil van Djik, who has faced Messi several times in domestic competitions, gave his thoughts on playing against one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
“It is not me against him, or the Netherlands against him, but the Netherlands against Argentina,” he said. “No one can do it on his own, we will have to come up with a good plan.”
This may be true, but it was Messi, along with three teammates, who scored a penalty in that 2014 semifinal victory over the Netherlands, and it’s Messi who makes Argentina the favorites to win the World Cup. But the Dutch players, who won Group A and went on to defeat the USMNT in the round of 16, have their heads on straight and are up for the challenge.
“I’m not scared,” said Dutch player Jurrien Timber. “But it’s a great challenge. Like Nathan [Ake] said, Messi is a great player, but it’s not just him, and it’s not just us two. We will try to fix this problem as a team.”
How could the Netherlands get past Messi and Argentina?
For as good a goalscorer and creative playmaker as Messi is, Argentina is not too overwhelming in the attack, and Netherlands head coach Louis Van Gaal plans to take advantage of exactly that.
“Messi is able to create a lot and to score goals himself. But when they lose the ball, he doesn’t participate much. This gives us chances.”
The Netherlands know how to take chances, that is for sure. They have scored eight goals in the World Cup on just 4.05 expected goals, hitting three goals on just 1.56 xG against the USMNT in the round of 16. Argentina suffered the biggest upset of the tournament in their opener against Saudi Arabia, allowing them to score two goals on just 0.15 xG. It’s definitely not going to be an easy victory for Argentina, even with Messi at the front.