Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Virgil van Dijk says Netherlands are not focusing on stopping Lionel Messi

Virgil Van Dijk will need to keep a close eye on Lionel Messi (John Walton/PA)
Virgil Van Dijk will need to keep a close eye on Lionel Messi (John Walton/PA)

Virgil Van Dijk insists the Netherlands are preparing for far more than Lionel Messi alone in Friday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Messi has, once again, proved Argentina’s inspiration in Qatar and the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is aiming to cap his glittering career by guiding his side to success in next week’s final.

Yet defender Van Dijk knows Dutch hopes do not just rest on whether they can stop Paris St Germain’s former Barcelona talisman.

Lionel Messi
Messi has once again shone for Argentina in Qatar (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Liverpool centre-back said at a press conference: “He’s one of the best players of all time, obviously. He has done it for so many years.

“I would say he and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the standout players of the last two decades. There is only respect towards what they have achieved but, for us now, it is not a case of preparing just to face him. We are preparing to beat Argentina.

“Obviously we know how big a part of their success he has been over the years but it’s not Netherlands versus Messi, it’s Netherlands versus Argentina.”

The clash at Lusail Stadium renews one of the tournament’s great rivalries.

Virgil Van Dijk (left) and Lionel Messi (right)
Van Dijk (left) has previously faced Messi (right) in club football (Peter Byrne/PA)

Argentina prevailed when they met in the 1978 final but a stunning late Dennis Bergkamp strike saw the Dutch edge a tight quarter-final in 1998.

The last time they met was in a semi-final eight years ago when an Argentina side captained by Messi won through on penalties.

Van Dijk is ready should progress come down to spot-kicks again.

“We have been practising,” the 31-year-old said. “It doesn’t guarantee in a game, where you play in a full stadium with 80,000 people and there is a semi-final at stake that everything will go the same, but we try to do as much as possible in order to be ready for it.

“Hopefully we won’t come to that stage and we can decide the game before getting to extra time or penalties, but if the time comes we have to be ready for it. We have practised as much as possible.”

Having reached the World Cup final three times, the Netherlands is one of the great footballing nations but the country is yet to lift the trophy.

Van Dijk said: “It’s a quarter-final, that’s special. There is hunger, there are dreams.

“We know we’re in the quarter-finals and only three games away from something really big. This is our chance.”