Messi accuses Van Gaal of disrespect and long-ball tactics after Argentina end Dutch hopes

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Lionel Messi accused Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal of showing “disrespect” before Argentina ended the Netherlands’ World Cup hopes in Friday’s dramatic quarter-final.

Van Gaal, remembering the 2014 semi-final between the teams, said ahead of Friday’s game: “Eight years ago at the World Cup in Brazil, we succeeded well in neutralising Messi. He didn’t hit a ball then.”

That comment may have been one of the issues that upset Messi, while Argentina were also fired up by suggestions the Netherlands fancied themselves if the game came down to a penalty shoot-out.

The 2014 match finished goalless, with Argentina triumphing on penalties before losing to Germany in the final, but this time the Netherlands supposedly liked their chances on spot-kicks.

As it happened, a roller coaster game at Lusail Stadium did come down to a shoot-out, and Argentina won through once again to book a semi-final against Croatia.

Messi was rankled by the Dutch approach in the game, which saw Argentina’s 2-0 lead reeled in after the Netherlands bombarded the Albiceleste penalty area with high balls in the closing stages.

Quoted by ESPN, Messi said: “I feel disrespected by Van Gaal after his pre-game comments and some Dutch players spoke too much during the game.

“Van Gaal sells that he plays good football and then he puts forwards in the box and starts throwing long balls. We deserved to go through and that’s what happened.”

Reports have also claimed that when Messi approached Van Gaal and Dutch assistant coach Edgar Davids after the game, he was complaining the Netherlands boss had too much to say, and his hand gesturing suggested as much.

Van Gaal’s direct intentions were made clear when he brought on Wout Weghorst for Memphis Depay in the 78th minute, and the 6ft 5in striker made a major impact against the Argentina defence.

He headed in to cut the deficit, then scored from a sublimely worked free-kick that deceived Argentina, with his equaliser in normal time coming after 100 minutes and 30 seconds, the latest World Cup knockout stage goal on record, since Opta has exact goal times (from 1966).

Weghorst became the first substitute to score twice in a World Cup match for the Netherlands, and he apparently departed with another souvenir: a tongue-lashing from Messi.

“What are you looking at, fool?” Messi said to somebody off-camera before a TV interview with TyC Sports. That bystander has been identified by the Argentina broadcaster as having been Weghorst.



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