“Blessed to have Messi on our side,” says Argentina coach Scaloni after quarterfinal win against Netherlands

“I don’t attach a lot of importance to our system and game, as football is ever-changing. We executed our game plan, and that finally worked,” Scaloni said after the match.

Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi celebrates with coach Lionel Scaloni after their victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarterfinal football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022.

Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi celebrates with coach Lionel Scaloni after their victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarterfinal football match between The Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium, north of Doha on December 9, 2022. | Photo Credit: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“I don’t attach a lot of importance to our system and game, as football is ever-changing. We executed our game plan, and that finally worked,” Scaloni said after the match.

Argentina beat the Netherlands in a nail-biting quarterfinal and advanced to the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup, after emerging victorious in a penalty shootout.

With the match level at 2-2 after 120 minutes of football, the Argentines won the mental battle, knocking out the Dutch after the shootout finished with a scoreline of 4-3.

“We were always thinking about attack, even after conceding. Our team made the most shots, and we are satisfied,” said Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni after the match.

Argentina looked fairly comfortable after taking a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals by Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi. However, when Wout Weghorst pulled one back for the Oranje in the 83rd minute, La Albiceleste looked shaky. As the match entered its final quarter, the Netherlands was looking like the more dominant team.

With 10 minutes additional time given after the second-half, Louis Van Gaal’s men knew they still had time to save themselves and their efforts paid off when Weghorst scored in the 11th minute of added-time, and forced the match to extra-time.

“In the second half in the last 15 minutes, we were under pressure because of some long balls. Otherwise, we were in control,” said Scaloni.

“We have shown our personality. Against Mexico also, the first half was tough. Sometimes you need to defend, and we accept that. If they have three strikers with a height of over 190 cm, you need to adapt. Those last 12 minutes were difficult and I would have liked to make a substitution, but I stayed patient,” he added.

The match, which saw a total of 19 yellow cards, setting a new record, became ugly, especially in the second-half when there were frequent interruptions. Scaloni himself saw yellow card in the 90th minute.

On asked about Netherland’s performance in the match, Scaloni said, “I don’t want to judge how they played, and in the second half, it was an ugly game with too many interruptions.”

There were frequent tussles between both the teams and even Argentine skipper Lionel Messi, usually known for his calm demeanour, saw a yellow card in the 10th minute of second-half additional time.

However, Scaloni refused to place too much importance on that. “These sorts of things happen and stay on the pitch (Messi’s skirmishes). Leo is the best player, and we are blessed to have him on our side,” he said.

Argentina took the difficult route to the semis via a nerve-wracking penalty shootout, but goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez set the tone early on, saving the penalties of Virgil Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.

“We knew our penalty takers, and we had too many volunteers, which is very positive. Then we had Emiliano, and like Colombia, he could save a few here too,” said the La Albiceleste head coach on the shootout.

It didn’t come easy, but Scaloni’s men held on and advanced to the semifinals, where it will face Croatia, which beat Brazil in a penalty shootout on Friday.

“I don’t attach a lot of importance to our system and game, as football is ever-changing. We executed our game plan, and that finally worked,” said a satisfied Scaloni.

This is Argentina’s first semifinal after the 2014 World Cup, where it reached the final under the late Alejandro Sabella, but could not lift the trophy after a narrow 1-0 loss to Germany.

“We hope Sabella is up there and proud of us,” Scaloni concluded.

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