Doha, Qatar – Lionel Messi is angry, and your reaction to those words will mean something different depending on who you are, where you come from, and what you want to see happen in this closing week of the World Cup.
That Messi is really angry is a headache here and now if you are a Croatia player, coach or fan. It’s not great news if you’re tied to France either Morocco, either; although in that case, it will likely feel like a problem for days to come.
For everyone else, especially those who want the best for ArgentinaMessi’s football master, one of football’s enduring human treasures, Messi getting angry is a very, very good thing.
Because now the best player of his generation (either including or apart from Cristiano Ronaldodepending on your preference) has an extra fire in its belly, a burning fire need win this tournament instead of just a fierce desire to do so.
There is a difference, and we will first see how it plays out on Tuesday against Croatia (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App) in the first semi-final in Qatar.
Oh, Wout Weghorstwhat have you done
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Weghorst scored two high-quality goals to bring the Netherlands he returned to the quarterfinals with Argentina before the South Americans prevailed in a penalty shootout, one of his goals coming from perhaps the most innovative free-kick he has ever seen.
And yet Weghorst’s most lasting impact at the World Cup might be that he infuriated Messi at the end of that round of 16 clash, so much so that the typical calm paris saint germain The star covered up while standing on a television interview airing back in her homeland.
“What are you looking at, stupid?” Messi raged at Weghorst, and it should be noted here that it is unclear what, if anything, Weghorst said or gestured to provoke the reaction. “Go ahead, stupid,” Messi continued.
Messi didn’t imitate many of his teammates in immediately turning to taunt the Dutch once the winning penalty went in on Friday, but he didn’t hold back. He walked to the Netherlands bench at the end and barked at head coach Louis van Gaal, assistant Edgar Davids and other members of the Netherlands’ support staff.
He had apparently taken offense at some of Van Gaal’s mind games in the media before the game, as the manager claimed his team would have the advantage if it went to penalties and that Messi did little to help his team when it didn’t. it does. I don’t have the ball.
He was also upset by Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz’s officiating, and while FIFA is unlikely to sanction him for the semi-final, governing body executives revisited his comments on Monday.
“I don’t want to talk about referees because then they penalize you, but we were scared before the game because we knew what was coming,” Messi told reporters. “I can’t say what I think, but FIFA has to look at this. They can’t put a referee like that in this game when he’s not up to it.”
We haven’t seen much of this side of Messi before, but he is something known in Spain from all his years in Barcelona Don’t pull on his cloak, or he’ll come out and try to destroy you with his brilliance. Pregame press conferences by teams opposing him are usually quite deferential for that very reason.
Messi lives a quiet life, enjoys being close to his family and rarely gets involved in this side of the soccer soap opera. When he does, it’s usually enough to help him find a little more shine.
The stakes are high for him here. His relationship with the Argentine public is finally at an all-time high after years in which he felt undue pressure when he represented the national team and his performances suffered as a result.
No more. He is now a man on a mission, knowing that his legacy as one of the sport’s all-time legends is secure, but that adding a World Cup, the only major prize that eludes him, would be an addition. spectacular.
Argentina had a dismal start to their World Cup campaign, losing 2-1 a Saudi Arabia, but it has been immaculate ever since. Messi uses his energy resources and silky powers carefully. At 35 years old, he must be careful with his physical activity and has been listed as the player in this World Cup who walks the most during a game than any other.
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When active though, he is lethal, scoring one and setting up the other against the Dutch with a brilliant pass.
He was already at the top of the soccer tree, but now he’s angry too? It might be enough to give you the prize you want most.