“All Argentines are hopeful for tomorrow’s match,” Scaloni continued. “We play for our people. We are so thankful for the Argentinian supporters, we know how much it costs to come all the way here. We know what is expected of us.”
The Argentines reached the semi-finals after a penalty thriller against the Netherlands, during and after that game tempers ran high. Several players from Argentina were caught with little sporting behavior. “The previous match was played the way we had to play it, by both teams,” said Scaloni. “There can be disagreement. That is why there is a referee.”
“Now everything ends up on Argentina,” said Scaloni. “But it was also provoked because they always came to disturb us during the penalty shootout, tried to intimidate us. Then things can get out of hand and that was the case. But it wasn’t just us fighting. Depicting Argentina as a team of gangsters is not nice. One also wrong. I refer to the final of the Copa America. That was against Brazil, our biggest rival. Well, none of that happened. You also have to think about the referee, who also has his responsibility. There must be an end to those accusations, especially towards Messi. He is a winner, he likes to play football. To put him down as a dirty player now, that is not correct.”
In the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, the Albiceleste with 3-0 against the Croats. “Croatia is again in the last four, they have a good team,” said Nicolas Tagliafico, who has a great chance to start against Croatia in the absence of the suspended Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel. “There are some similarities with 2018, but it will be a very different game from four years ago. We have new weapons and we have experience from that previous match.”
The left back is happy that seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is the captain of the Argentina team. “He is our leader. He motivates us and gives us a special advantage on the pitch. We all work together to achieve our dreams and we can do that with Messi by our side.”
Tagliafico ready for base place
Nicolás Tagliafico will therefore probably appear on Tuesday evening at the kick-off of Argentina’s semi-final against Croatia at the World Cup in Qatar. “If the coach calls on me, then I am ready,” said the defender who exchanged Ajax for Olympique Lyon last summer.
The 30-year-old Tagliafico started the World Cup as a basic player. After the lost opening game with Saudi Arabia (1-2), he no longer appeared at the kick-off at the final round in Qatar. The left back was allowed to come in during duels with Poland, Australia and the Dutch national team.
National coach Scaloni expects that Rodrigo De Paul and Ángel Di María can also be used against Croatia, the losing finalist of the previous World Cup in Russia. Both players struggled with physical complaints in the run-up to the game with the Orange. “But they are fine,” said Scaloni. “We have to see how many minutes they can play.”