World Cup 2022: Netherlands goalkeeper relishing possible Lionel Messi penalty challenge

Lionel Messi of Argentina scores his side's first goal from the penalty spot during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.
(Image credit: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Netherlands (opens in new tab) goalkeeper Andries Noppert has already begun the mind games ahead of his country's World Cup 2022 (opens in new tab) quarter-final clash with Argentina (opens in new tab), confidently claiming that he can thwart Lionel Messi if it goes to penalties.

That's exactly what happened last time these two met at the World Cup, with Argentina advancing to the 2014 final (which they lost to Germany) after a goalless draw in the semis.

And Noppert fancies his chances in the ultimate battle. Asked in the build-up to Friday's match how he felt about the possibility of facing Messi in a shootout, the 28-year-old said (opens in new tab):

"I'm always ready for that, and he can also miss: we saw it at the beginning of this tournament, so he's the same like us – a human. For sure he's good, but for sure I can [save] the penalties."

Netherlands goalkeeper Andries Noppert during a press conference at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Full of confidence: Andries Noppert (Image credit: ANP via Getty Images)

Messi has already taken two penalties in Qatar, scoring one (in Argentina's shock tournament-opening 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia) and seeing the other saved (by Wojciech Szczesny in the 2-0 win over Poland).

While he's utterly otherworldly in so many aspects, Messi's penalty record helpfully reminds us that he is human after all: his career conversion rate from 12 yards for club and country is 78%, statistically pretty much exactly average (opens in new tab).

Noppert – who's set to win only his fifth international cap against Argentina, having been surprisingly chosen as number one by Louis van Gaal – is right to fancy his chances, then.

This tie is a repeat of the 1978 World Cup final – which saw hosts Argentina beat the Netherlands to claim the trophy for the first time.

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...