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10th Dec 2022

Why Argentina hate Louis van Gaal

Callum Boyle

The game was not short of fireworks

Friday night provided one of the most chaotic, dramatic, fiery games in World Cup history as Argentina beat the Netherlands on penalties to reach the semi finals.

It looked as though Argentina had made their way to the last four after 100 minutes of football but with just seconds to go, Wout Weghorst’s late equaliser from a well-executed Dutch free kick.

While the game itself proved to be a spectacle of its own one thing will be remembered more: the drama.

Referee Mateu Lahoz handed out 18 yellow cards – a record for a World Cup game – and away from his dire performance in the centre of the pitch, the players were also up for it.

Emi Martínez, Lionel Messi and Leandro Paredes were involved in separate altercations. Messi was involved in two alone, once with Weghorst and the second with Louis van Gaal.

A lot of the anger towards Van Gaal had been based off the Netherlands boss’ comments in the build up to the game in which he claimed his side would have the advantage if the game went to penalties. Lo and behold, they didn’t.

The first sign of discontent among Argentinians towards Van Gaal dates back to 2002 and his handling of legendary footballer Juan Roman Riquelme.

As Van Gaal returned to Barcelona for a second spell in 2002, Riquelme’s days were immediately numbered.

Following his arrival, Van Gaal described him as a “political signing” to compensate for the departure of Rivaldo and continuously called him out publicly before he eventually left for Villarreal after one season.

Then there’s the case of his public fallout with Angel Di Maria. The two worked together at Manchester United in which the winger joined from Real Madrid but left after one underwhelming season. In the build up to the fixture, Di Maria labelled the 71-year-old as the ‘worst coach he had ever seen.”

In true Van Gaal style, the former United boss laughed off that suggestion, claiming that Di Maria was in the minority when it came to that opinion.

Finally, there’s his battle with Messi. At full time the captain of Argentina appeared to instigate a heated discussion after their win and during his celebrations, the number 10 cupped his ears after he scored – just like Riquelme did all of those years back.

After the game it was Messi who had the last laugh and took one final dig at the opposition manager after criticising their style of play.

“Van Gaal says that they play good football but what they did was put on tall people and play long balls.”

For Van Gaal, Friday’s quarter final exit will most likely be his last game in charge with Ronald Koeman reportedly set to take over from the ex-Ajax boss imminently.

Argentina meanwhile are gearing up for a semi final against Croatia and are still dreaming that Messi can finally lift the coveted World Cup trophy.

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