The Argentina-Netherlands encounter in the World Cup quarter-finals remains etched in the minds of the spectators. The game, which escalated into a heated confrontation, grew so intense that the referee had to brandish his cards a staggering 18 times. Even in that contest, Lionel Messi exhibited a side of him rarely seen. Messi, renowned for his typically composed demeanor, was visibly incensed on that fateful day. Even his post-goal celebration, where he cupped his ears in the direction of Van Gaal, would later become emblematic.
Following that match, Messi revealed that his actions were in response to derogatory comments made by Van Gaal. Prior to the game, Van Gaal had remarked, “When Argentina doesn’t have possession, Messi is ineffective.”
Messi did not take kindly to this remark. He entered the field determined to vanquish the Dutch and ultimately emerged victorious. However, the rivalry between Messi and Van Gaal did not end there. Van Gaal once again stoked controversy by insinuating that Messi’s World Cup victory was orchestrated. He suggested that Argentina’s match against the Netherlands had been premeditated to assist Messi in securing the World Cup.
"“I won’t delve into this too deeply,” Van Gaal recently remarked to Dutch media outlet “NOS” Sports. “When you analyze how Argentina scored their goals and how we scored ours, you’ll understand. Some of their players clearly crossed the line and yet remained unpunished. Consequently, I believe this match was entirely prearranged. Do I believe Messi should be the world champion? I do.”"
However, Van Gaal’s comments sparked a strong backlash from Argentine fans, who voiced their disapproval on social media. One individual commented, “Van Gaal can whine all he wants, but he’ll never secure a title like that.” Another added, “Messi might have lost if your players had capitalized on penalty opportunities.” Yet another remarked, “He’s still searching for excuses to salvage his reputation.”
Accusations of bias towards Messi and Argentina during the World Cup are not new. “We conceded an unexpected goal,” remarked Portuguese defender Pepe after their elimination from the tournament. However, given the events of the previous night, assigning an Argentine referee to this match is unacceptable. From what I’ve witnessed, they can hand the World Cup to Argentina if they so desire. I’m saying it outright.”
“I don’t believe in the penalty decision,” exclaimed Croatian captain Luka Modric after their semi-final loss, expressing astonishment at the referee’s call in favor of Argentina. It’s evident that this decision altered the course of the game.”
"But Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has now dismissed his former coach’s comments and says he disagrees with the controversial claim. Speaking to NOC, the Liverpool defender said, “I heard it this morning, indeed. And that’s actually it. It is of course his opinion. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. I do not share the same opinion.”"