Argentina are in the semi-finals of the World Cup and the chances are that few if any Argentines are too bothered about how they have gotten there. However others have been less than impressed by a perceived lack of sportsmanship in their game against the Netherlands.
After conceding twice in the dying stages, the game took on an extra edge, with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz handing out 17 yellow cards.
Lionel Messi would celebrate in front of Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, as well as calling Wout Weghorst ‘dopey’ in the mix zone after the match. During the penalty shoot-out, both sides celebrated in the face of the others too.
Speaking ahead of their semi-final against Croatia, Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni told the press that he felt it was an unfair characterisation though.
“We know how to lose and we know how to win. We lost to [Saudi] Arabia and we left quietly. We won the Copa América in Brazil and the most beautiful image was seen with Messi and Paredes sitting with Neymar. I don’t buy it.”
“Nosotros sabemos perder y sabemos ganar. Perdimos con Arabia y nos fuimos calladitos. Ganamos la Copa América en Brasil y se vio la imagen más linda con Messi y Paredes sentados con Neymar. Yo no compro esa”.
Lionel Scaloni. pic.twitter.com/MeU6Z1ujet
— Sudanalytics (@sudanalytics_) December 12, 2022
He went on to say that Messi has always had a similar edge, calling him a winner.
Different people set different levels of sportsmanship as to what is acceptable. Often the narrative and a little heat between the players is something the crowd appreciates from their players though. While there is a line not to be crossed, football is also an entertainment business and that rivalry only adds to the spectacle.