Lionel Messi immediately regretted celebrating ostentatiously after scoring against the Netherlands in the 2022 World Cup. After slotting away Argentina’s second goal via a penalty, Messi celebrated by putting his hands to his ears, as a way to rile up Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal had made comments about Messi’s play in the build up to the quarter-final, specifically his contribution off the ball and how he approached matches as a whole. Messi responded by cupping his ears to the Dutch boss.
The Inter Miami forward, though, has now revealed he almost immediately regretted the celebration towards Van Gaal for fear of eventually losing the tie.
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“I came up with the ‘Topo Gigio’ [named in honor of a cartoon character, a goal celebration in which a player puts his hands to his ears as a sign of defying someone] right there and I automatically regretted it,” the 36-year-old told ESPN. “As soon as I did it I thought: ‘What an idiot. They can still tie it.’ These things usually happen.”
And that is exactly what happened. Forward Wout Weghorst scored two goals after Messi’s penalty to level the encounter. But despite the momentum shifting, and thankfully for Messi, Argentina eventually beat the Netherlands 4-3 in penalties.
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After the game, Messi said of the incident: “‘I feel disrespected by Van Gaal after his pre-game comments and some Dutch players spoke too much during the game.”
Messi and co eventually went on to win the World Cup after beating Croatia and France in the semi-final and final. However, the Argentinians’ clash with the Dutch perhaps was the most heated match of the tournament as there were a combined 14 yellow cards given.
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Argentina had eight while the Netherlands had six of their own. Part of the reason why both sides were so charged during was in down to what Van Gaal said of Messi before the game. And it appears the former manager of the Netherlands isn’t letting go of how the game ended, claiming the World Cup was rigged.
“I do not really want to say much about it,” the manager said to reporters. “When you see how Argentina scored their goals and how we scored our goals, and how some Argentina players overstepped the mark and were not punished, then I think it was all a premeditated game.”