Argentina fans ‘love’ Lionel Messi’s new aggression, with Ossie Ardiles comparing him to Diego Maradona.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is setting the World Cup on fire as he looks to inspire his nation to the ultimate prize in Qatar.
The footballing world is keenly aware of the talent the 35-year-old possesses having won seven Ballon d’Or awards over the years, but a slight aggressive streak in the Argentina-Netherlands clash has surprised some fans.
Messi was embroiled in post-match arguments with Louis van Gaal and Wout Weghorst after Argentina won on penalties in the quarter-finals, but according to Argentina legend Ardiles, this Messi side was well received .
Writing for the Daily Mail, Ardiles said: “I know some people in England were surprised at his aggressive reaction after the game against the Netherlands, the confrontation with Louis van Gaal and some Dutch players.
“But you have to remember the context. While England remain Europe’s No.1 team to beat, Holland are the No.2. It all started in 1974 when we lost 4-0 to them. So it’s a long story with a lot of bad blood.
“Van Gaal had tried to get Messi to react before the game, stoking the fire by talking about how Messi hadn’t defended well for the team. Then, during the penalty shootout, the Dutch players were constantly trying to disrupt the Argentinian players, playing mind games by approaching them and celebrating by them if they missed.
“It is not a question of justifying what happened but of understanding it. There were a lot of unsavory scenes going on on both sides.
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“But in Argentina, a lot of people loved this new image of Messi. It wasn’t normal for him. It was more of a reaction from Maradona, which means people love him even more.
“The old perception was that he was cold and not passionate. Now they feel his desire to win for Argentina. We are Latins. We react and show our emotions. Sometimes we maybe overreact .
Argentina take on Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday night, with live commentary on talkSPORT.
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