DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Nathan Ake finds it difficult marking Julián Álvarez in training at Manchester City.
He’s expecting his task to be even harder when they go head to head at the World Cup on Friday.
Álvarez has broken into Argentina’s team at the tournament and will be looking to score for the third straight game in a meeting with the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
Ake is a regular in the Dutch defense and know he’ll have more than just Lionel Messi to deal with.
“As a player, he’s very technical, very difficult to mark, even in training,” Ake said Tuesday of 22-year-old Álvarez, who joined him at City in the offseason. “He’s very sharp, a good finisher. So it will be tough to face him.
“He’s a great player, but also a great guy off the pitch. He’s a little bit quiet, obviously still learning English and stuff when it comes to the new environment. So it’s all new for him. But he fitted in really well.”
Stopping Messi, who already has three goals in likely his final World Cup, is set to be even harder for Ake, who described the 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward as “probably the greatest player to play the game.”
“It will be also a good challenge, I think, for the team, not just for the defenders, but the whole team,” Ake said.
“We have more players also to worry about because the whole team, there are very good players in the team. So we just have to make sure we are tactically very good, organized.”
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports