As one can imagine, it was a night where emotions ran amok. But it was also a night that evinced just how bitter-sweet the beautiful game can be.
I say that because of the stark contrast that we could see in the after-match scenes in both the fixtures of the night.
After a thrilling back-and-forth of goals on the pitch, the match extended to a penalty shootout where Croatia’s Dominic Livakovic proved his dominance on the goal line and ultimately won the match for the Croatians.
The entire Brazilian team was torn but one player that simply could not hide his disappointment was Neymar, the Brazilian Prince that never became the King.
Luckily for him, however, the Brazilian saw him and asked the bouncer to stand down. The young boy hugged Neymar, presumably in a bid to express his adulation and with that one action, reminded the world of the truly beautiful side of this game.
And yet, in contrast to Leo Perisic’s unadulterated gesture, the world also bore witness to one of the ugliest matches in the Qatar World Cup between Netherlands and Argentina which included 16 yellow cards, 1 red card, utter disrespect by Argentina’s Paredes, and fights breaking out even after the match ended.
Argentina, like Croatia, claimed their spot in the final 8 of the tournament in the penalty shootout. However, unlike Croatia, Argentinians failed to show compassion or character with the final shot.
With the entire night being a fairly controversial one, the most disgraceful moment that was captured on camera was to the credit of Messi’s side’s irreverent celebration targeting the entire Netherlands team after Lautaro Martinez put the ball past Andries Noppert.
The likes of Nicolas Otamendi and Leandro Paredes jeered at the Dutch players as they went past them showing precisely how ugly the sport can get in the heat of the moment.
Reactions on Twitter too were just as contrasting as the matches themselves with some users condemning the Argentine team, and others commending the Croatian winger Perisic’s son for showing compassion to a player that played not only against his own country but also his own father.
One tweet managed to silence most Argentinian fans and it was a masterclass insult to the behaviour exhibited by Lionel Messi’s side. The tweet read, “Perisic’s son has more class than the entire Argentina team.”
And frankly, junior Perisic’s ideals are what the entire world of football should be trying to emulate on the pitch.