Winger Angel Di Maria was not part of Argentina’s starting playing XI in a quarterfinal match against the Netherlands in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Head coach Lionel Scaloni decided to keep the injured Di Maria on the bench, going with a change in formation, playing a 3-5-2 against a 4-3-3 where the Argentine would have fit better.
The winger was finally introduced in the 112th minute of the game.
The 34-year-old would have looked to prove himself in front of a manager he had previously called the ‘worst’ of his career. Netherlands’ Louis Van Gaal, who was once his boss at Manchester United, has led the Dutch into the quarterfinals after the team lost out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“Van Gaal was the worst of my career. I would score, assist, and the next day he would show me my misplaced passes. He displaced me from one day to the other. He didn’t like players being more than him,” Di Maria had once told TyC Sports.
However, the strategy to keep him out may just be Scaloni’s way, one, to have a change in strategy and two, to prevent the winger from getting the better of his emotions in this high-profile match.
Earlier in the tournament, Argentina played without the Juventus forward in the round of 16 clash against Australia, where it went on to beat the Socceroos 2-1 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
There were already doubts surrounding Di Maria’s availability for the first knockout game after he was subbed off with an injury in the 59th minute of the Albiceleste’s 2-0 victory over Poland in their last Group C match.
Ahead of the match against Australia in the round of 16, Scaloni confirmed the rumours, saying the 34-year-old has suffered a muscle overload in his left foot.
“Di Maria had discomfort. After training we will decide on the team depending on the fitness of Angel and other players. If he’s okay, he will play,” he had said during the press conference
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