“Messi is one of the greatest players ever. That will be hard work,” said Aki. “But we are playing against a team. Argentina is more than just Messi.” He was joined by the Ajax Timber player. Of course we don’t just play against Messi.
The Dutch national team doesn’t seem to mind that the focus is so much on Messi these days. The 35-year-old playmaker is going into the World Cup for the fifth and final time and it is his last chance to win the tournament and equalize with fellow star Diego Armando Maradona. National coach Louis van Gaal paid tribute to Messi earlier in the day, as did former teammate Frenkie de Jong.
Aki has not been in contact with his Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, who worked with Messi for years at Barcelona. Aki, who has received a lot of praise so far in this World Cup, said, “We have to focus on ourselves. Individually, we may not have the best players in this World Cup, but as a team we are very strong. These are our greatest strengths.” . “Positive criticism is always nice. So far things are going well, but you always have to keep improving yourself.”
On the edge of the abyss
Just like Frenkie de Jong, Aké was “on edge” in the quarterfinals. If he receives a yellow card against Argentina, he will miss a potential semi-final match against Brazil or Croatia. “This is not really good football, of course, not much has happened to me. But I shouldn’t think about it too much, it has to do with this match first.”
The internationals left it in the middle how the orange Messi and the Argentines would fight. On Wednesday, during private training, this should be evident in the final match between the starting and reserve players. “I don’t have any shudders, I think it’s a great challenge,” Timber said. “I went into this tournament with a good feeling. It’s even better now that we’re in the quarter-finals.”
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