Angel Di Maria is experiencing yet another complicated tournament in the Albiceleste jersey. And things still do not seem to be getting better for the winger who could celebrate his hundredth selection during this Copa América this summer. Instead, the PSG player could follow the rest of the competition on the bench. The day after the defeat against Colombia (0-4), the Parisian winger was training with the substitutes. Rodrigo de Paul, who came in his place after the break, remained in the weight room with the holders who should play Wednesday against Paraguay, in Belo Horizonte.
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The Argentine press fired at Di Maria with red balls: “Angel without handles” (the angel without wings), notably headlined the sports daily Olé on the evening of the match.
“If the life of Lionel Messi with the Argentine selection is made of missed appointments, that of Angel Di Maria looks like torture”, could we read in the article. The statistics are unequivocal: no shots, only 15 balls touched and ten assists. Unworthy of one of the main executives of Argentina, supposed to constantly overflow on his left lane to supply Messi or Agüero with good balls.
For the Clarin newspaper, Di Maria “did not attack”n’a “not productive” and is “passed unnoticed” in Salvador. Without quoting him directly, coach Lionel Scaloni made a comment as a sign of disavowal, saying that “the second half was worthy of Argentina”. Precisely the one during which the Parisian was on the bench. That said, both Colombian goals came after the break.
The sinking was collective, but the supporters were entitled to expect more from a 31-year-old player in the three World Cups played to his credit, in a team which seems to have been under permanent construction for years.
The Letter of Discord
Here he is again at bay in Brazil, where he had already experienced his greatest trauma in selection, for all other reasons. Already in the game in 2010, in South Africa, he tackled the 2014 World Cup at the end of his best club season, crowned by the Champions League title with Real Madrid. On Brazilian soil, he had been one of the best Argentinians of the tournament, before being injured in the quarter-finals.
In the previous round, the winger had scored the decisive goal against Switzerland in extra time, on a pass from Messi. The Albiceleste staff hoped until the end to see him participate in the final against Germany (1-0 defeat after extra time), but he could not be delivered in time. At the time, some Argentinian media had even claimed that Di Maria had not played at the request of Real Madrid, who would have sent a letter claiming to preserve him to avoid aggravating his injury.
The player later confirmed that he had indeed received the letter in question, but that he had “torn without reading it”ensuring that the decision not to align him had been taken by coach Alejandro Sabella and not by his club. “That final that I didn’t play in Brazil continues to haunt me. If we had been champions, no one would have said anything. But since we lost, they insinuated that I had shit myself”he recently revealed to the newspaper La Nacion.
From frustration to frustration
After the Brazilian World Cup, “El Fideo” will finally be sold to Manchester United, where he had a disastrous season before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2015. His erratic performances with the Parisian club did not prevented from keeping the confidence of the Argentine coaches who have succeeded in recent years.
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he gave hope to Argentina in the round of 16 against France, by equalizing with a long shot in the top corner, but the Blues ended up winning 4-3. In February, Di Maria had shown a lot of composure with PSG at Old Trafford: booed by his former supporters, he had given the two assists in the 2-0 victory in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League. Before sinking with the whole team on their return to the Parc des Princes (3-1), one more frustration for a player who never seems to have recovered from his Brazilian disappointments.
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