Argentina v Netherlands: Did Lionel Messi's team-talk inspire Argentina to World Cup semi-final penalty shootout victory?
The Argentina captain delivered a compelling team-talk before Argentina won 4-2 in the penalty shootout, securing their place in the World Cup Final
Argentina secured their place in the World Cup Final after a dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout victory over the Netherlands, but they needed some inspirational words from captain Lionel Messi to pull through.
With the deadlock yet to broken after 90 minutes of play and neither side able to gain the advantage, Messi fulfilled his role as captain and stepped up to the mark, rallying his team-mates with a passionate speech.
Coach Alejandro Sabella had begun his own team-talk but such was the power behind Messi's words, Sabella decided to let his talisman continue. Javier Mascherano, arguably one of the best players on the pitch, then took over the team-talk duties at half-time in extra-time as the dreaded penalty shootout loomed.
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Romero's Hands of God' - the shootout
Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano both held team-talks in Argentina's World Cup semi-final victory.
It appeared Messi himself had also sourced some inspiration from the talk, creating two golden chances for Rodrigo Palacio and Maxi Rodriguez in extra-time but both were denied by Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
His influence on the pitch had been limited by Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal - first being man-marked by Nigel de Jong and then Jordy Clasie - but the 27-year-old slid home the first penalty of the shootout with aplomb to get the ball rolling.
Lionel Messi was closely marked by Nigel de Jong in the World Cup semi-final
The Barcelona star had previously been accused of lacking commitment to the national team, and some critics even suggested he was more Spanish than Argentinian following his move to Spain in his teenage years.
But it was clear he was as passionate as any other player on the pitch, even if he had produced another subdued performance.
Argentina face Germany in the World Cup Final on Sunday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro.
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