Is Angel Di Maria Ready To Become A World Cup Star?


As Argentina prepare to kick-off their World Cup ambitions tonight, a lot will be made of their number ten: Lionel Messi. But for me, one of Argentine star may just shine brighter over the next four weeks.

Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria had a wonderful last six months of the season at the Bernabeu. He was particularly great in the Madrid derby in Lisbon back in May, when Real took on and beat Atletico for the Champions League title.

His direct pacey runs caused more problems than anything Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo could muster that night. It shows how far he has come that two or three poor crosses in the first fifteen minutes of that match didn’t bring down his performance, as it would have done earlier in his career.

When watching Di Maria over the past few years, I always saw a decent yet inconsistent winger that was very much in the shadow of Messi and Ronaldo. But he has matured into an excellent attacking outlet and looks very confident now when he enters the football arena.

His style of play is very pleasing on the eye. As I have already stated, he likes to attack defences with his runs but he can also offer crosses from deep positions and can also cut inside and play nice balls through tight defences. His versatility of playing in either flank or even in the middle on occasions is another huge plus.

Real Madrid would maybe prefer it if he could score a few more, he only managed seven last season. But those around him especially Ronaldo, Bale and Karim Benzema will appreciate just how unselfish the tireless twenty-six year old is. He managed twenty-two assists for the European champions last term and he did that consistently throughout the campaign, not just hitting the odd purple patch. (Interestingly enough is instinct for a goal isn’t bad with the national team – scoring nine times in forty-seven caps).

That appetite to help create more for others could be huge for his international compatriots like Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain. If he can average anywhere near the 2.7 key passes a match that the he did throughout the La Liga season then you have to feel that Messi and co could be in for an exciting World Cup.

Angel proved during the Champions League final, that he can outperform the best players like Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s no longer in awe of his Portuguese teammate. There could be a few reasons for that; Bale coming in added competition but it also took some weight off Di Maria’s shoulders and at twenty-six the winger is maturing and should be about to enter his peak form. The test for Argentina’s number seven is to prove that he can take the pressure off of Lionel Messi and step away from his shadow.

I believe Messi is ready to have a big World Cup. He’ll be fresher than any other he has participated in previously and he does have teammates like Di Maria who can help take the load off of Lionel and give him a bit of a break during certain games.

We’ve seen talk that Real Madrid could sell Angel Di Maria this pre-season. I can’t believe that for a minute. The winger is just showing that he really deserves to be a ‘Galactico’ and starting to produce performances worthy of a star that cost more than €30m. Why sell now?

If his great year continues, then this could be a very special tournament for Argentina and maybe, just maybe Angel di Maria can overshadow everyone else!

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