A flood of yellow cards and a game that threatens to escalate briefly: The World Cup quarterfinals between the Netherlands and Argentina produce the ugly side of football. Lionel Messi's team is not particularly athletic, Oranje provoked like in 2014 on penalties.
Even after the final whistle of the toxic card game at the World Cup, the Zoff continued. In focus: Lionel Messi, captain of the World Cup semi-finalists Argentina and Wout Weghorst, former Bundesliga professional, who saved the Dutchman in extra time with a brace in the charged quarter-final duel. The Argentinians then prevailed on penalties.
In an interview with the Argentine broadcaster TyCSports, Messi did not look in the direction of the reporter who tried to ask him a question, but at Weghorst with a serious, angry expression, as the broadcaster reported. "What are you looking at, idiot? What are you looking at, idiot," spat Messi.
Visibly irritated, the reporter tried to calm down the upset Argentine, touched his shoulder lightly and said: "Calm, calm." As Messi explained afterwards, the 19 started to provoke when he came on the pitch - Weghorst wears the number 19, he was substituted on by coach Louis von Gaal in the 78th minute.
Weghorst made it 2-1 in the 83rd minute and made it 2-2 in the eleventh minute of added time. After his first goal, Messi went down on the restart after a Weghorst attack. With 15 yellow cards, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz had handed out more than ever before in a World Cup game.
In fact, this first of many pack formations ensured that emotions on the lawn really boiled up. And the Dutch behaved no less ugly. The entire Dutch bench raced towards Paredes and the other Argentines, shoving wildly. Virgil van Dijk even cross-shouldered Paredes badly and is lucky he doesn't see red (as does the Argentine for the shot on the bench).
What many TV viewers didn't notice were the subsequent provocations by the Dutch. When the final whistle sounded after regular time, several men in orange were still freaking out, wanting to get to Argentina and had to be held back by their own team-mates.
Then, in the penalty shoot-out, Oranje continued a sad and shameful tradition that drew much criticism at the 2014 World Cup. Almost every Argentine shooter has been provoked or mobbed by the Dutch before his shot. Even when walking to the point, the Albiceleste kickers were partly followed halfway by kickers in orange and treated with words. The Dutchman's returning shooter took over the task the rest of the way. Keeper Andries Noppert also grabbed the ball from the shooter here and there and provoked.
On the Argentinian side, however, it wasn't just superstar Messi who got involved in provocations against Oranje. Previously, it was mostly his teammates who didn't turn out to be the best winners. The footage, taken by Reuters photographer Paul Childs, showed some Argentinians gesturing in the center circle towards the grieving Dutchman after Lautaro Martinez's crucial penalty. Some cheered in their direction. Central defender Nicolas Otamendi put his hands to his ears and turned to the Dutch. A gesture that sounds like "What are you saying now?" read.
This action and the painful bankruptcy in turn caused unpleasant scenes on the Dutch side. Packs formed again and Denzel Dumfries in particular probably wanted to seriously hurt the Argentines. Fists flew in the air, and again players had to hold back and settle.
Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez was also critical of the referee in an interview with an English reporter after the game - and sometimes slipped into conspiracy theories. "It was a difficult game, we controlled it very well," he said. The referee "gave everything for her". The ten-minute injury time had no justification, said the Aston Villa goalkeeper. "He just wanted them to score. Hopefully we don't have that referee anymore, he's useless." The 30-year-old also spoke about Bonds coach Louis van Gaal. Before the game, he said that taking penalties was an advantage for the Dutch and that they could win. Martínez replied: "I think he should shut up."