DOHA  — Louis Van Gaal bragged that star Lionel Messi didn’t touch the ball the last time he faced him with the Netherlands.

Will his tactic work again on Friday like in Brazil 2014?

Argentina and the Netherlands will meet in the quarterfinals of the World Cup at the Lusail stadium in Doha, in a repeat of the semifinal duel that the South Americans won on penalties eight years ago.

It is true that Messi did not stand out that day, but he scored one of the penalties that deposited Argentina in the final.

The current Messi is older, but also wiser. In Qatar, his fifth and perhaps last World Cup, the 35-year-old captain was decisive in all of Argentina’s victories, with three goals and one assist. He has his sights on the missing trophy and he’s not willing to let it go.

However, the 71-year-old coach – the oldest in the tournament – did not want to reveal how he will control Messi.

“We are not going to reveal our tactics to you. It would be quite stupid to reveal your own tactics, ”he replied to the journalist who asked him the question on Thursday at the pre-game press conference. “It’s not that hard to find an answer. You could have found an answer yourself. He may look to block and close the passing lanes.”

Passionate about strategy and field work, Van Gaal is the mentor of a Netherlands that has gone 19 games unbeaten, with Frenkie De Jong as game organizer; the winger Denzel Dumfries as an offensive weapon on the right wing and two scorers not to be neglected, Memphis Depay and Cody Gapko.

After recovering from prostate cancer, Van Gaal wants to finish in the Middle East with the curse of the Oranje: three world runner-ups in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

“The real World Cup starts tomorrow for us,” Van Gaal warned. “I don’t want to minimize the importance of the previous games. But Argentina, and Brazil perhaps in the next round, are teams of a different caliber”.

At his side, Depay admitted that it will also be special for him to face the Argentines, whom he remembers with bitterness because he was part of the team that lost eight years ago. “I really want to get rid of this bittersweet taste of 2014, I would like to change it in tomorrow’s game.”

Any special plan in case luck is defined in penalties again?

“We are preparing for that, (but) we hope to win the game in 90 minutes,” said the Barcelona player.

In Argentina — world champion in 1978 and 1986 — his colleague Lionel Scaloni, quite a few years younger, but just as studious of tactics and strategies, also put together an undefeated long run before the World Cup and rescued the team from shipwreck after the defeat against Saudi Arabia in debut.

“It is a very balanced team, everyone defends and everyone attacks. It is the summary of football now, ”Scaloni analyzed his rival. “Tomorrow’s game will be very nice to watch, with two teams that we propose to attack, without neglecting the defense. Football goes that way”.

The Argentine coach is evaluating a change of wings and scheme with respect to the team that beat Australia 2-1 in the round of 16. But in the last few hours an unforeseen event arose with midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, the footballer with the most games in his cycle. He has a sore muscle and is doubtful for Friday.

Leandro Paredes would be his replacement.

“I wouldn’t dare to say if he is there or not (De Paul to play), you never know until the day of the game…If we are clear that the player who goes out on the field has to be in the best condition to provide what better for the national team”, emphasized Scaloni.

At the same time, the coach has winger Ángel Di María available, recovered from a contracture and who could be vital for the tactical duel on the wings against the Netherlands.

The winner of this crossing will wait for the duel between Brazil and Croatia on the same day.

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