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L. Messi

‘I don’t know how to stop Messi!’ - Barcelona star De Jong has no secret plan to help the Netherlands

9:07 PM MYT 06/12/2022
Lionel Messi Frenkie de Jong
Frenkie de Jong has played alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona, but the Netherlands star still admits that: “I don’t know how to stop him!”
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WHAT HAPPENED? A Dutch squad that has made impressive progress to the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup are preparing to face Messi and Argentina in the last eight on Friday. Attempting to contain a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner poses obvious problems for Louis van Gaal’s side, with De Jong conceding that he has no useful inside information to offer despite having worked with Messi for two seasons at Camp Nou.

WHAT THEY SAID: De Jong told reporters when asked if he knows how best to keep the all-time great quiet: “Well, no. I know him, but I don't know how to stop him. He's been making the difference for 15 years and there is not one way to stop him. Usually he would still make the difference during training too. We just have to stop him as a team. We haven't texted each other. I am not planning to. We will see each other on Friday.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: While being fully aware that Messi boasts the ability to make life very uncomfortable for them, the Dutch camp believe that one minor chink in his armour could work in their favour. Van Gaal is hoping that will prove to be the case, saying of his plans for tackling the iconic 35-year-old: “Messi is the most dangerous creative player, he 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.”

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WHAT NEXT? Messi has never been one for tracking back and helping out with defensive duties, with his game all about end product at the other end of the field. His 1,000th competitive appearance for club and country saw him find the target against Australia last time out, with 789 efforts now recorded on a remarkable CV.