Argentina sealed qualification to the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup by beating the Netherlands in a penalty shootout.
Tempers ran high in a contest that was played both on a physical and a psychological level, with Lionel Messi making the headlines for his comments on not only Louis van Gaal but also his gesture towards Wout Weghorst.
“I don’t like people talking before matches. That’s not part of football. I always respect everyone, but I like to be respected too. And they were not respectful to us before the game,” Messi said (h/t Barça Universal), directing to van Gaal’s comments before the game when the Dutch manager had criticised the Argentine.
Messi further revealed that the Dutch players spoke too much during the game. “The 19th [Weghorst] came and started to provoke us, bump into us, tell us things… Their coach was not respectful to us either,” he added.
“I was angry because a coach like Van Gaal, with the experience he has. For him to speak the way he did, to disrespect. It didn’t have to be like that, it didn’t make sense. I feel he disrespected the Argentina national team,” he further said on van Gaal.
Messi went on to criticise the Netherlands’ tactics under van Gaal, adding, “Van Gaal tells people that he plays football, but all they do is strike long balls.”
Messi’s anger towards Weghorst was evident when the Paris Saint-Germain forward asked the Dutch striker to move away from the presentation area. “What are you looking at, dumby? Go back there, dumby. Get back there, yes!”
Van Gaal and Weghorst were not the only subjects to Messi’s anger as the Argentina also criticised the referee Mateu Lahoz. “FIFA can’t put these referees in a match like this. He’s not up to par,” he said.
Messi, though, hid no praises for his compatriot Emiliano Martinez, who was one of the star performers in the quarterfinal, making a couple of extraordinary saves during the shootout. He praised the goalkeeper for his character and aggression
We knew that Emi would respond the way he responded. When we need him, he’s always there,” he said. Messi also talked about the late Diego Maradona, adding, “Diego [Maradona] is watching us, he is pushing us, hopefully he will continue like this until the end.”