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FIFA's World Cup bidding report delayed

World Cup news 3 days ago
Read
Jul 4, 2014

Jan Vertonghen: We can stop Messi

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots believes his team-oriented approach can overcome the individual brilliance of Lionel Messi and Argentina when the two sides meet in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

Jan Vertonghen is sure Belgium can stop Lionel Messi and advance past Argentina to make it through to only their second World Cup semifinal in history.

- Van Walle: Belgium ready for new chapter
Sabella: Any side would rely on Messi

Such has been Messi's form in Brazil that the Albiceleste have faced accusations of being over-reliant on the Barcelona player, who has scored four of his nation's seven goals.

Some 28 years ago, Argentina were heavily dependent on Diego Maradona, who scored five goals to help the South American side to World Cup glory in 1986.

Four years earlier, Belgium successfully shackled Maradona by surrounding the diminutive dribbler whenever he had the ball at his feet. A picture taken of six Red Devils players surrounding the attacker after a free kick is one of the abiding memories of that World Cup in Spain.

Belgium do not plan to do the same with Messi on Saturday in Brasilia -- coach Marc Wilmots prefers to mark zonally -- but Vertonghen is sure the Red Devils will be strong enough to deal with the Albiceleste captain.

"I think Messi has been outstanding so far in this tournament. He has been their main man,'' Vertonghen told a prematch news conference. "But if we defend like we did in our previous matches we will stop him, [Sergio] Aguero, [Angel] Di Maria and [Gonzalo] Higuain. I'm convinced of that.''

The plan to stifle Maradona in 1982 worked that night as Belgium recorded an historic 1-0 win. Wilmots has had no urge at all to remind his players of those events, however.

"We have never spoken about it to any of the players. It's history,'' he said.

Belgium have only made it to the last four once before -- in 1986 -- and Vertonghen is desperate for the current team to make history on Saturday.

"We don't want things to stop,'' Vertonghen added. "We are ready for the rest. We want to play even better.

"We have been working hard over the last few years and this is the reward for that hard work.''

Although Vertonghen sat alongside Wilmots at the prematch news conference in Brasilia, the Tottenham defender appears to be a doubt for the quarterfinal.

In fact, Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele were all short on fitness ahead of the game.

"We are not sure [about those three], but we will train today [on Friday] and see,'' Wilmots said. "We hope everyone will be fit and ready to go.''

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