[L-to-R] Marco van Basten and Lionel Messi.

Marco van Basten names Netherlands star who can mark Argentina captain Lionel Messi for 90 minutes

Netherlands legend Marco van Basten believes the Oranje's Jurrien Timber could man-mark Argentina legend Lionel Messi when the two teams meet in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Dutch side will take on La Albiceleste in the World Cup quarterfinals on Friday, December 9, at the Lusail Stadium. Louis van Gaal's men will have to keep Messi, who has been the South American side's best player so far, quiet if they are to progress to the last four.

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Van Basten believes Argentina will struggle if their talismanic skipper is kept quiet. To accomplish that, the three-time Ballon d'Or winner feels the Netherlands need to keep a man on Lionel Messi throughout the 90 minutes. He said (as quoted by @TheEuropeanLad on Twitter):

"If we have a player who can man mark Messi 90 minutes long, we have to do it. Italy did it too with [Diego] Maradona. Without Messi, Argentina is a lot less. Timber might be able to do it."
Van Basten: "If we have a player who can man mark Messi 90 minutes long, we have to do it. Italy did it too with Maradona. Without Messi, Argentina is a lot less. Timber might be able to do it."

Jurrien Timber notably didn't start the Netherlands' FIFA World Cup opener against Senegal. However, he has played every single minute of their last three fixtures and has looked impressive. The AFC Ajax defender has recorded eight clearances, seven interceptions and nine tackles in those games.

He is likely to have his hands full against Messi, who has scored thrice and assisted once in four matches for Argentina at this year's World Cup. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar has also averaged 2.8 fouls won and 3.3 key passes per game.

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Van Basten added that the Oranje have to ensure the ball doesn't reach Messi when they lose it to minimize his impact on the game:

"Messi totally doesn't defend with the team, you pretty much play 11 vs 10. You just need to be aware that he's not the one who receives the ball once we lose the ball."
Van Basten: "Messi totally doesn't defend with the team, you pretty much play 11 vs 10. You just need to be aware that he's not the one who receives the ball once we lose the ball."

Lionel Messi will look to score his first goal against the Dutch during 2022 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals

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Lionel Messi has played twice for Argentina against the Netherlands, both at the FIFA World Cup, but is yet to record a goal contribution against them.

Their first meeting was in the group stages of the 2006 edition. Messi started that match. He had a shot on target and laid out three key passes, but won just five of his 17 ground duels before being replaced by Julio Ricardo Cruz in the 70th minute. The game ended 0-0.

Argentina and the Netherlands played out another goalless stalemate at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, this time in the semifinals. Lionel Messi fared much better this time, winning 14 of his 24 ground duels, laying out two key passes and getting a shot on target.

He also converted in the penalty shootout after the game finished goalless after extra-time as Argentina won 4-2.

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Edited by
Anantaajith Ra
 
 
 
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