World Cup 2022: Netherlands star says he has no clue how to stop red-hot Lionel Messi

Argentina forward Lionel Messi celebrates after his team won the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 3, 2022.
(Image credit: Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images)

Netherlands (opens in new tab) midfield maestro Frenkie De Jong admits he's at a loss as to how to thwart Lionel Messi, ahead of the Oranje's World Cup 2022 (opens in new tab) quarter-final against Argentina (opens in new tab) on Friday night.

True to his talisman status, Messi has been in utterly inspired form for Argentina as he looks to captain his country to glory in his final World Cup; he ran the show as Lionel Scaloni's side beat Australia 2-1 in the last 16, brilliantly bagging his third goal of the tournament to open the scoring.

And as the Netherlands' main man in the centre of the park, De Jong – who's scored once and provided one assist in Qatar – will largely be tasked with nullifying the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's unparalleled attacking threat.

Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar

A man with an unenviable job: Frenkie de Jong (Image credit: Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

But he knows all to well that that's far easier said than done. Speaking to the media this week, the Barcelona (opens in new tab) star – who was a teammate of Messi's at the Camp Nou for two-and-a-half years – said (opens in new tab):

"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."

Friday's tie will be the fifth World Cup meeting between the Netherlands and Argentina. Three of those have finished 0-0, including the last two – the most significant of which saw the Albiceleste advance on penalties to reach the 2014 final.

Most famously of all, though, Argentina defeated the Dutch 3-1 after extra time to get their hands on the trophy for the very first time – on home soil in 1978.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

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...