The World Cup quarter-finals are important enough to bring drama to any match regardless of how it goes. Yet Argentina’s victory on penalties over the Netherlands had no shortage of extra bite to the match.
With 16 yellow cards handed out, it still seems a miracle that there were not more, or even a red, with both sides clashing as the tie reached its climax.
Lionel Messi was at the heart of it and went directly to the Dutch bench after scoring his penalty, with his celebration directed at manager Louis van Gaal.
I’m here pic.twitter.com/Wzfz8b9J7g
— Eng.Romeo.13 (@romio13sniper) December 9, 2022
Cupping his ears, he emulated the celebration of Juan Roman Riquelme, an Argentine icon, by doing his trademark ‘Topo Gigio’, a reference to a cartoon mouse.
21 years on from the famous Topo Gigio celebration from Juan Román Riquelme pic.twitter.com/W6AuUpDmoL
— Boca in English | Podcast 🏆 (@CABJ_English) April 8, 2022
Riquelme and van Gaal were at Barcelona together in the early 2000s, but did not get on well. The Dutch coach often played him out of position before stopping playing him at all. He would spend two of his three years contracted to Barcelona at Villarreal.
Speaking after the match, Sport caught Messi’s statements on van Gaal, where the Argentina captain continued to feud.
“Van Gaal sells those that play football well and he began to put tall people on and launch the ball at them.”
During his post-match interview, he was also caught saying ‘Que miras, Bobo?’ – ‘What are you looking at, dopey?’
It goes to show the enormous importance Riquelme had in Argentina that 20 years on from the playmaker’s battle with van Gaal, the Argentina captain goes out of his way to reference it in a World Cup quarter-final. Equally, it shows the different, emotional Messi that has come through at Argentina in recent years, rather than the composed and controlled character that has been present for most of his career.