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Courtois: I've got an advantage over Messi

ESPN staff
July 3, 2014 « Neymar turns to psychologist | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Messi relishing the pressure

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois claims his previous meetings with Lionel Messi will give him an advantage during Saturday's World Cup quarter-final but admits the Argentina captain is capable of winning the game on his own.

Courtois, 22, has managed to stop Messi from scoring in their last seven meetings across La Liga, Champions League and Spanish Super Cup fixtures, as he has starred on loan for Atletico Madrid as they won their first league title in eight years last season.

The pair will clash again in Brasilia and Courtois, who is likely to return to his parent club Chelsea after the World Cup, insists he has the upper hand over the Barcelona forward.

"I know him well from Atletico's games against Barcelona, so it'll be nice to play against him for our countries," Courtois told ESPN.

"Hopefully we can win, but we'll see. The good thing is that I don't have to watch videos of him because I know him so well. But even if you watch videos of him, he's so unpredictable that it's impossible to study him to know what he's going to do.

"As soon as he finds a way to shoot, he will shoot, so the only thing you can do as a goalkeeper is concentrate at all times."

Messi fired a long range free-kick past Courtois in Barcelona's 2-1 win at the Vicente Calderon in February 2012. He also scored twice in a 4-1 victory at the Nou Camp in December of that year.

"Saturday's game will be a huge one, because Argentina have a great team, and we are showing that we are growing into the tournament," Courtois said. "I hope we can win, but it will be tough. To hold on in defence we must be very well organised. Argentina have a very good attack, which does not just depend on Messi, there is also [Gonzalo] Higuain, [Angel] Di María, [Ezequiel] Lavezzi, [Sergio] Aguero, but at the back they are not so strong. That is where we can do them damage."

The goalkeeper has been in excellent form so far at the World Cup, keeping two clean sheets in four games - conceding just a penalty against Algeria in their opener and late in extra-time to Julian Green of the US in the last 16. But he is remaining grounded as Belgium look to make it to the semi-finals for the first time.

"Argentina are a really good side, it will be very difficult game. We are not thinking about the semi-finals. We will just play that game and hopefully we can all give 110%,"

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