Argentina vs. Netherlands

A breakdown of the intense quarterfinal game in the World Cup.

One of the 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar.

Wikimedia Commons

One of the 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar.

Leah Maupin, Staff Writer

Argentina vs. Netherlands was one of the most important games of the World Cup. The winning team would advance to the semi-finals, while the losing team would be sent straight back home.

Leading up to the big game, Netherlands head coach Louis Van Gaal had suggested ahead of the quarterfinal that Messi did little to help his team when they didn’t have the ball.

Van Gaal then went onto multiple interviews in which he bashed Messi and his teammates, especially Argentina’s starting goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez.

“I heard Van Gaal saying ‘we’ve got an advantage on penalties, if we go to penalties we win,'” Martinez said. “I think he needs to keep his mouth shut.”

However, to start the match, it was a very slow 35 minutes; both teams held their own.

However, in the 35th minute, Messi gave the perfect assist to teammate Nahuel Molina, who wasted no time putting the ball in the back of the net.

At one point, Leandro Paredes blasted the ball in the direction of the Netherlands bench, before Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk responded by knocking Paredes to the ground.

With Argentina gaining more confidence as the game progressed, Messi ended up taking a penalty and scoring Argentina’s second goal of the game.

Just as the game was coming to an end, Wout Weghorst found the net with the Netherland’s first shot on goal in the 83rd minute. 

90 minutes into the game, the video assistant referee (VAR) awarded 10 extra minutes, which resulted in the Netherlands getting one more goal to tie the game.

With a penalty just outside of the box, Teun Koopmeiners rolled the ball to the foot of the wall where Weghorst was waiting once more to turn and sweep a shot into the goal to bring the score to 2-2.

Since the game ended in a tie, it was now overtime – meaning an extra 30 minutes was added to the clock.

When there was still no tie breaker at the end of overtime, it then went to penalties.

Before the game, the Dutch implied it would be easy to shut down Messi, and that their side would triumph if the contest went to penalties. Argentina, however, had the last laugh.

With Netherlands’ first two players missing their penalties, eventually Argentina beat them in a 3-4 win. 

After their winning kick, Messi clapped back at the head coach by turning to him on the Netherlands bench and putting his hands behind his ears to imitate a mouse, mocking Van Gaal and his assistant, both of whom talked badly about Messi before the game.

After the big win which took them to the World Cup semi-finals, Messi explained his take on Van Gaal.

“I was angry about the pre-match [comments] because a coach like Van Gaal, with the experience he has, with the games and the battles he’s had throughout his career, who speaks the way he did, who disrespects the way he did; I think it didn’t have to be like that,” Messi said. “It doesn’t make sense and I felt he disrespected the Argentina team.”

Messi also stated how he didn’t even expect the game to go into overtime.

“We didn’t expect to go to extra time, let alone to penalties,” Messi said. “We suffered, but we are playing a World Cup quarterfinal.

Martinez also had his say in what went down in the game in an interview also.

“I thought we controlled the game really well,” Martinez said. “We went 2-0 up, but the ref started to give everything to them. All of a sudden, a good header for them and all turned upside down. The ref added 10 minutes for no reason.”

Argentina will now face off against Croatia, who recently beat five-time World Cup champs, Brazil.

Messi was asked how he feels about their new opponent. 

“Croatia is a great team,” Messi said. “They move the ball very well, they have been working together for a long time, it will be very hard.”

In the end, there were around 18 yellow cards handed out during the game and one red card given out. A total of 15 players received a yellow card, which is a World Cup record.