Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has insisted his players, along with Lionel Messi, are respectful of their opponents.
The comments come days after Argentina’s fiery brawl with the Netherlands players, in a match that saw the Dutch come from 2-0 down to level the tie with the final kick of the ball in injury time.
During the game, there were several moments in which players from both sides clashed, which is proven by the fact that the referee handed out 15 bookings.
After extra time the quarter-final went to a penalty shootout. Argentina won 4-3 after Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis could not find the back of the net with their spot-kicks.
Scaloni’s squad then celebrated by taunting the heartbroken Dutchmen on the halfway line, before running to celebrate with their supporters at the Lusail Stadium.
Viewers on social media noted the unlikely behaviour of Messi, who had also celebrated his goal in front of Louis van Gaal and looked vexed in a post-match interview as Netherlands players were behind the camera.
Lionel Scaloni’s comments
Scaloni said (via Metro): “The previous game was played the way we had to play it from both teams, the Netherlands and Argentina, and that’s football. In football, sometimes you have to defend, attack and some games, you know, things can happen.
“There can be arguments, more challenging times but that’s all. That’s why there is a referee to make justice. And we need to put an end to this behaviour of thinking Argentina is just that and we usually have this sort of behaviour.
”We lost to Saudi Arabia, we didn’t say anything. We won the Copa America in Brazil and we experienced the most sporting behaviour with Messi, [Leandro] Paredes and Neymar.
”They were all sitting together in that tunnel at that Maracana Stadium, so I’m really not convinced of this idea of unsporting behaviour.
”We need to show our pride and we just played the game the way we had to play it. And then there is a referee in charge of making decisions. Things end in the moment the referee blows the final whistle.
”So, we respect all the teams, the Netherlands, Croatia now and all the opponents we face. That’s one of our main characteristics and features of our personality since the first game.
”We need to put an end to this idea of us not being good winners or losers – that’s very far from who we actually are as a team, as a squad and the way we represent this nation.”
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