Mon | Jan 30, 2023

ARGENTINA VS NETHERLANDS A chess game that Messi will win - Roy Simpson

Published:Friday | December 9, 2022 | 12:45 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
National men’s football team manager Roy Simpson
National men’s football team manager Roy Simpson
Argentina’s Lionel Messi (right) scores the opening goal during the World Cup round of 16  match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, December 3.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi (right) scores the opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, December 3.
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Today’s World Cup quarter-final in Qatar between old rivals Argentina and the Netherlands will be a chess match that could turn on a single moment of brilliance. That’s the word from national team manager Roy Simpson, who thinks the Argentines will...

Today’s World Cup quarter-final in Qatar between old rivals Argentina and the Netherlands will be a chess match that could turn on a single moment of brilliance. That’s the word from national team manager Roy Simpson, who thinks the Argentines will have the edge in a cautious affair.

“You’re going to see a more patient approach. You’re going to see a more cautious, a more chess-like game. But what they will do is that you will see them on the counter, and I think that’s how the teams are going to play,” Simpson predicted of a match that continues an age-old rivalry that was last seen at a 2014 World Cup encounter, when Argentina won on penalties in the semi-finals.

“They’re going to be defensively organised. Anybody who holds the line more consistently than the other will probably see through to a victory. However, I still feel no matter how you hold your defensive line, and how organised you are in this tournament, the better attacking players always find that little crack that they manipulate and exploit,” he continued.

Marshalled by Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk, the Dutch will provide stiff resistance, but he foresees Lionel Messi as the change maker.

“I think Argentina will find it. You just need a second of brilliance from Messi,” Simpson added.

The Dutch are undefeated after two wins and a draw in group play and a 3-1 victory over the United States in the round of 16, while Argentina recovered from a shock loss to Saudi Arabia to top Group C and a 2-1 win over Australia to reach the quarters.

“I always remember that Liverpool-Barcelona game, the loss down at Anfield,” Simpson recalled of the dramatic 2019 Champions League semi-final second leg, where van Dijk and Liverpool overturned a 3-0 lead held by Messi and Barcelona, “but again, I think van Dijk is good but not at the peak of his game”.

His analysis of today’s fame is based on the way Argentina wore down Poland in Group C.

“If you look at how Poland played Argentina and that defensive structure and how they held their lines, but Argentina kept attacking them consistently. I think, defensively, you can do so much; but the slight little crack, the slightest little mistake, players like Messi and Julian Alvarez, they’re going to get through,” he reasoned on an encounter where Alexis Mac Allister and Alvarez scored to break the Polish resistance. The final score was 2-0.

With Messi on three goals, Argentina have scored seven times in Qatar, while the Dutch have hit the net eight times.

The game pits the youngest manager in the tournament against the oldest. Argentina’s 44-year-old coach Lionel Scaloni, in his first World Cup, will match wits with 71-year-old Louis van Gaal, whose honours include a Champions League title at Ajax in 1995.