Argentina have been tipped by many people to finally win the World Cup this summer after not lifting the trophy since 1986, in Diego Maradona’s heyday.
Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano may well be the big names, and it is no surprise that they’ve been tipped for success, but it is Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria who holds the key to their success. His performances last season led Los Blancos to their tenth European Cup and helped keep up their title fight until the end of the season.
Due to his displays, he has been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu. Arsenal and Manchester United are just two of the many clubs interested in signing the Di Maria who had, by far, his best season at Real Madrid. Di Maria is in a team full of stars at both club and international level but stood out for the Spanish giants and could well do the same in Brazil this summer.
Not many players get the chance to say they play with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but Di Maria can, and he stands not far behind them.
He was moved further back at Madrid by manager Carlo Ancelotti last season. After playing the majority of his career on both wings in attack, Ancelotti brought him back into a midfield trio with Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso. It worked exceptionally well as he created 90 chances and claimed 17 assists in La Liga – more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.
Of course, it does help when you’re supplying Gareth Bale and Ronaldo.
For all the goals, skills and dribbles that Bale and Ronaldo showed last season, Di Maria still impressed and, should he leave the Spanish side this summer, they’d be losing a key player as well as one of the most in-form and improving players in Europe football.
Di Maria has always been talented but last season really showed how good he could be, especially in the Champions League final.
When Argentina face Bosnia-Herzegovina in their opening group game in the World Cup, they’ll need to start well as their opponents have the tools to pick them apart and earn a win in their first World Cup game.
Messi, Higuain and Aguero will obviously be key, but Di Maria playing behind them, with creativity and energy in midfield, can cut the Bosnian outfit open. The Argentine defence isn’t fantastic and Edin Dzeko may well take advantage of that so the Group F opener may well be a case of who scores more, and Di Maria will be key if that does happen.
The other two group games against Iran and Nigeria will be much easier than the opener and that is when Di Maria can really get into his groove and warm up for the knockout stages.
The Argentina squad is full of world class attacking talents but Di Maria is the key player to fitting all of the pieces together. His drive, energy, creativity and flair in the middle third of the pitch, advancing into the attacking third will be the most important aspect of Argentina’s World Cup performances. He will link the midfield and attack superbly, sprinting with pace at the opposition defence and splitting them open.
The Argentines could be exciting to watch this summer if Di Maria hits the ground running, because if he does, it means Messi, Aguero and Higuain will too.
His performances could also make his transfer valuation sky rocket.