Akie & Timber on Messi’s tackle: ‘Tough, but a beautiful job’
Nathan Ake and Jøren Timber seem to be the most important shield the Netherlands national team can use on Friday evening (8pm) against Argentina’s great little man: Lionel Messi in the World Cup quarter-finals.
So it’s no surprise that they appeared at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “He’s one of the greatest players ever,” says Ake. “It’s a nice job to stop him.”
The Manchester City defender is trained at his club by Pep Guardiola. Under his leadership, Messi achieved great success in Barcelona between 2008 and 2012. So the Spaniard knows very well how Messi works. He can give Ake useful advice. However, that hasn’t happened (yet). “I did not communicate with Guardiola.”
Perhaps it shows how relaxed the Orange team are working on the match against Argentina. Aki says the players didn’t talk much about Messi after the win against the United States. “We laid back for days and didn’t think about him.”
Van Gaal watches the Orange team and holds Messi’s cards on the box
Despite the “comfortable” predisposition, there is one thing Aki doesn’t look upon feeling good. The 27-year-old defender is on alert after receiving a yellow card against Qatar. If he gets another card, he is suspended for a possible semi-final match. “Playing isn’t fun. On the other hand, it’s important to win and then we’ll see who plays.”
In addition to Aké, Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Teun Koopmeiners are also on edge. Yellow cards are canceled in the World Cup after the quarter-finals.
If Argentina were defeated, the Netherlands would have won this World Cup against four “continental winners”. Qatar has become the champion of Asia, the United States in North America, Senegal in Africa and Argentina in South America.
Aki confirms that the focus will be only on Messi during the upcoming quarter-finals. “They have a lot of good players. It will be a great match.” Also, according to Aké, it’s not just about him and Timber. Tactics are also very important.
The somewhat less chatty Timber agrees: “We have to do it as a team.”
In this way, the Ajax defender hopes the Netherlands can beat Argentina, just as they did in 1998. “We can all remember Dennis Bergkamp’s goal. We also want to make history.”
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