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.”
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