Footage shows how four Holland stars tried to intimidate Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez
Nicolas Otamendi claimed that Argentina’s over-the-top celebrations in the faces of Holland was in response to the Dutch team’s intimidation tactics, and new footage has supported the defender’s statement.
Images of the South American champions celebrating wildly in front of their quarter final rivals emerged after their dramatic penalty shootout win on Friday night, with a number of stars more focused on their opponents than their progress to the semis.
The Argentinians were immediately hit with accusations of unsportsmanlike behaviour, but in the game’s aftermath, former Man City star Otamendi said the reaction was in response to Holland’s antics during the shootout.
Esta cámara explica el enojo. Cuando Lautaro va a patear lo van a apretar entre cuatro. También le dice algo el holandés que ya había pateado y vuelve. Y el final con todos corriendo a un lado y Messi yendo a buscar a Dibu, es épico. A los cámaras no le dan las patas para correr. pic.twitter.com/hx4ZhoZAGC
— Nicolás Castrovillari (@ncastrovillari) December 10, 2022
‘I celebrated in face because there was a one Netherlands player, who at every penalty kick we had, was coming and saying things to one of our players,’ he said.
‘The picture was taken out of context, and we celebrated in response to it.’
And now footage has supported Otamendi’s case, with no fewer than four Holland players attempting to unsettle Lautaro Martinez before his decisive spot kick at the Lusail Stadium.
After Luuk de Jong swept his penalty home to keep Holland alive, Denzel Dumfries, Wout Weghorst, Noa Lang and Frenkie De Jong broke off from the team huddle on the halfway line to celebrate the strike.
As they returned to their teammates, the quartet passed Martinez and aimed a few words in his direction to ramp up the mind games as Holland’s World Cup fate laid in the hands of the Inter Milan striker.
But Martinez was not flustered by whatever his rivals had to say, coolly striking past Andries Noppert to book a semi-final date with Croatia.
Friday night’s contest was a fraught affair where tensions reached boiling point on a number of occasions, namely when Leandro Paredes started a brawl after belting the ball at the Dutch bench.
The two sets of players also clashed after the final whistle, and goalkeeper Emi Martinez was at the heart of it as he launched abuse towards the opposition dugout. ‘Keep your mouth shut you f***ing t***! I f***ed you twice!’ he said.
He was not the only Argentina player to struggle to control his temper as Lionel Messi was also furious and broke away from a TV interview to shout at one of Holland’s staff: ‘What are you looking at? Fool!’
Messi then went to confront Dutch coach van Gaal, with assistant coach Edgar Davids having to play peacemaker after a match full of emotion.
Messi’s fury came just minutes after Argentina’s player had rubbed salt into the wounds of their Dutch counterparts by running straight in front of them after their shootout win.
Several players made gestures towards the Dutch team who looked devastated following their gut-wrenching defeat.
While the match contained four goals, it was far from all about attacking flair and threatened to get out of control at times with both sets of players clashing on multiple occasions.
Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz went over to both benches to try to calm things down numerous times, but to no avail, and he was happy to show cards with great regularity.
Indeed, it was something of a miracle that no one was sent off until after the match had finished, when Dumfries was shown two yellow cards in a matter of seconds when he clashed with Argentina players.