Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni - Lionel Messi has proven he is the best of all time

Lionel Scaloni head coach of Argentina and Lionel Messi right winger of Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain celebrate victory after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium on December 9, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has labelled Lionel Messi “the best of all time” following his performance in their World Cup 2022 victory over the Netherlands in the quarter-finals on Friday.

The 35-year-old contributed to both of La Albiceleste’s two goals in normal time, firstly producing an exquisite assist for Nahuel Molina before scoring from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute.

The Netherlands rarely threated Argentina’s backline, but they fought back late on to restore parity and send the fiery contest into extra time courtesy of two goals from substitute Wout Weghorst, including a dramatic 101st-minute equaliser.

The Oranje’s remarkable comeback was ultimately in vain, though, as Argentina prevailed 4-3 on penalties to set up a semi-final clash with Croatia who stunned Brazil to win 4-2 in their own shootout following a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.

Messi scored the first of Argentina’s spot kicks, but his strike in normal time has seen him draw level with Gabriel Batistuta as the nation’s joint-record scorer at the World Cup with 10 goals.

The Paris Saint-Germain attacker’s assist, meanwhile, was his fifth in the World Cup knockout rounds which is more than any other player in the competition’s history since records began in 1996, surpassing Brazil icon Pele with four.

Messi has certainly put his stamp on this year’s tournament in Qatar, scoring four goals and providing two assists in five matches, and his dream of lifting the World Cup for the first time is still alive.

Argentina’s No.10 is regarded by many as the greatest player of all time, but Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal highlighted what he believed to be a flaw in the attacker’s game in the build-up to Friday’s quarter-final, while also claiming that the Dutch have an advantage in penalty shootouts.

Messi was seen exchanging words with Van Gaal on the touchline after the game and has since hit back at the 71-year-old, criticising his ‘long-ball’ tactics.

Scaloni, meanwhile, believes the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has proven why he stands clear as the best player to have graced the beautiful game.

“Today Leo (Messi) showed that he is the best of all time,” Scaloni told reporters after the win over the Netherlands.

The 44-year-old boss added: “This team has the spirit to be able to face the situation at all times. From my point of view, we didn’t deserve to go to penalties, but even so the team continued to show its face.

“We had the game under control, but football has this, even when you think everything is over. This team has youth and pride. It’s essential to never give up.

“We always think of attacking, beyond what they proposed. The game was so short that it was difficult for us, especially in the second half. However, we are satisfied. We knew that in extra time, playing our football, we could change the result.”

Messi expressed his delight for Argentina progressing to the semi-finals, adding: “A lot of joy, a lot of happiness. We didn’t have to go to extra time or penalties, we had to suffer. But we got through and it’s impressive.

“Argentina is among the four best in the world because we shows that we knows how to play every game with the same desire and the same intensity.

“We’re really enjoying the World Cup, the people, the games. We’re happy, I’m really happy!”

Argentina will now have four days of rest, recuperation and preparation before facing Croatia in the last four at Lusail Stadium next Tuesday.

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