Lionel Scaloni defends Argentina behaviour following Netherlands win
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has strongly denied that his side are bad winners despite the antics that followed their World Cup win over the Netherlands.
The quarter-final clash, which Argentina won on penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw, was a bad-tempered affair with scuffles on the pitch and even substitutes booked on the touchline.
The enduring image, though, was Argentina players celebrating directly in the faces of their crushed Netherlands counterpart after the winning penalty in the shootout.
Video later emerged of Lionel Messi allegedly goading Netherlands players in his post-match interview, but Scaloni insists his team are gracious winners.
“We have to remove this taboo that we do not know how to lose and we do not know how to win,” Scaloni said.
“We lost our first game with Saudi Arabia and went quietly to the hotel to continue preparing for what was coming.
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“We won the Copa America in Brazil (last year) and I think you saw the most beautiful image of sportsmanship you could see, with Neymar, (Lionel) Messi, (Leandro) Paredes and other players sitting on the steps of the Maracana.”
The incidents further fed Argentina’s long-standing reputation for often taking gamesmanship a little too far. Scaloni, though, believes that reputation is pure fantasy.
“This issue must be settled,” he said. “We deeply respect the Netherlands, as we do now for [semi-final opponents] Croatia and all our rivals.
“We must banish the idea that we do not know how to win or lose. That is totally out of touch with reality.”
England will be considered failures if we don’t win Euro 2024
England defender Harry Maguire has revealed he will head to Euro 2024 with the mindset that anything less than winning the competition will be a failure.
The Three Lions have cemented their status as a strong tournament team over the last half-decade under the guidance of Gareth Southgate.
After reaching the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in 2018, England were only denied victory at Euro 2020 on penalties against Italy in the final.
There were high hopes that they could go all the way at the 2022 World Cup over the winter, but were narrowly beaten by reigning champions France in a hard-fought quarter-final.
England kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win at Italy, and speaking to the press post-match, Maguire revealed his ambitions for glory in Germany next summer.
“I think for me, at my age as well, 30 years old now, I’m with a mindset of, ‘If we don’t win the tournament, it’s been a failure’,” he said.
“We’ve got to qualify first – I mean it’s a tough group, [but] we’ve come here and got an amazing result.
“But that’s my mindset. I’ve been at three major tournaments now and I’ve come so close. I believe we have the players to win it. We went into Qatar wanting to win the tournament. So ultimately, when we get knocked out, as a squad we’re disappointed. The performances were good, we kept the most clean sheets at the tournament, we were one of the top goalscorers despite going out in the quarter-final.
“I’m speaking on behalf of myself but I know from speaking to the other lads as well, they were really pleased that Gareth stayed [on as manager]. We’ve built something as a group and he’s been the leader of it. He’s been the one who’s given us hope and given us belief as a country to be successful in these major tournaments and, for sure, it benefits us for us for him to be in charge.
“These big tournaments are decided on the finest margins. We played really well in the World Cup and ultimately, we got knocked out by a good French team. A French team that we believe we can take on and if we play them ten times, we would give them a good game ten times and probably win more than we lose.
“However, they’ve proven over the years that they manage to get the job done better than England do. So it’s something that we’re working on. We have so much talent and so many young players coming through.”
Maguire recognised that England were simply beaten at the 2022 World Cup by a more experienced and successful international side in France.
Despite reservations over Didier Deschamps, the 54-year-old has an incredible tournament record – to have won one final and lost two others is a far better record than most other coaches in the history of football.
England hope to be on a similar path with Southgate, but as Maguire insisted, they need to win a tournament if they’re to be remembered fondly and without tinges of regret.
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