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Virgil van Dijk plays down Lionel Messi battle ahead of Netherlands v Argentina

Lionel Messi has scored three goals so far (Mike Egerton/PA)
Lionel Messi has scored three goals so far (Mike Egerton/PA)

Virgil van Dijk insisted Argentina are not a one-man team as he played down his upcoming duel with Lionel Messi.

Netherlands skipper Van Dijk will come up against Argentinian superstar Messi when their countries meet in Friday’s World Cup quarter-final.

Messi, 35, has scored three goals in Qatar including the opener in their 2-1 last-16 win over Australia.

Netherlands v USA – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Round of 16 – Khalifa International Stadium
Virgil van Dijk and the Netherlands face Lionel Messi and Argentina for a place in the last four of the World Cup (Nick Pottes/PA)

But Liverpool defender Van Dijk says there is far more to Argentina than their mercurial frontman.

“It is an honour to play against him,” Van Dijk told reporters.

“It is not me against him, or the Netherlands against him, but the Netherlands against Argentina.

“No one can do it on his own, we will have to come up with a good plan.”

Liverpool v Barcelona – UEFA Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Anfield
The pair have met on Champions League duty (Peter Byrne/PA)

Van Dijk has come up against Messi before, notably in 2019 when Liverpool overcame a 3-0 first-leg deficit – in which Messi scored twice – to reach the Champions League final.

“The difficult thing about him is when we are attacking, he is chilling somewhere in a corner or something,” added Van Dijk.

“You have to be so very sharp in terms of defensive organisation. They always looked for him to try to make it difficult for us on the counter.”