Lionel Messi is widely considered the greatest football player of all time after he guided Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year
Former Netherlands head coach Louis Van Gaal has claimed that the Qatar 2022 World Cup was fixed to ensure Lionel Messi would finally get his hands on the trophy, Soccernet.ng reports.
Messi led Argentina to their third World Cup glory last year in December with a penalty shootout victory against France. The Inter Miami forward scored twice in the final before converting his penalty in the shootout which La Albiceleste won 4-2.
On the way to the final, the South American nation battled past the Netherlands, winning the last-eight tie 4-3 on penalties after a dramatic contest that saw the Oranje come back from two goals down, and feisty with 16 yellow cards issued throughout the game.
Van Gaal, who was in the dugout for the Dutch in the defeat, believes that the tournament was premeditated to ensure that Messi would finally get his hands on the coveted trophy in what will likely be his last World Cup.
I don’t really want to say much about it. When you see how Argentina gets the goals and how we get the goals and how some Argentina players went over the line and were not penalized then I think it all premeditated, Van Gaal revealed to Dutch Outlet NOS at the Erevidivise Awards.
When asked what exactly he meant by that, Van Gaal said: I mean everything I say. That Messi should be world champion? I think so, yes.
Van Gaal led his side out of the group before setting up a clash with Argentina following a 3-1 round-of-16 victory against the United States.
Nahuel Molina’s first-half goal and Messi’s 73rd-minute penalty had Argentina en route to victory before substitute Wout Weghost’s late brace sent the game to extra time with a last-minute equalizer.
In the extra time, tempers continued to flared with right-back Denzel Dumfries shown red card before the penalty shootout. Virgil Van Dijk and Steven Burghuis eventually missed the first two Dutch penalties before Argentina progressed 4-3 at the end of the shootout.
Van Gaal resigns as the Netherlands head coach following the defeat. He continues his recovery from prostate cancer with which he was diagnosed in 2022.
Reacting to 72-year-old’s claims, Dutch captain Van Dijk says he doesn’t share his opinion.
It’s of course his opinion, says Van Dijk
Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. I do not share the same opinion.
Messi and Argentina will start their journey to defend their title in the 2026 World Cup which will be hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico when they host Ecuador in the South American qualifying route on Friday, September 8.