updated 7:33 AM MST, Nov 17, 2017

THE INTERVIEW “ I try not to watch the World Cup matches” Angel Di Maria

  • Published in FOOTBALL

In 2014 you helped Real Madrid become
European champions for the tenth time but
then had to leave the club. With Argentina you
reached the Final of the World Cup in Brazil
but missed their last two games because of
injury. On balance, would you say it was a
bittersweet 12 months?
Ángel Di María:
No, no
... I’m very happy
about what happened. Aside from injuries,
which can afflict anyone, I achieved big
things, like winning
la décima
with Madrid
and helping Argentina reach the World Cup
Final after many years. Then there was how
we got there – showing immense desire and
bravery with a spectacular group of players.
It was well deserved and I was more than
satisfied with what we accomplished.
If you had to single out one moment from
2014, what would it be and why?

It might sound strange but it’d be reach
ing the World Cup Final. It’s something I
never thought I’d be part of, even as a boy.
And although I couldn’t play, it was still the
most beautiful moment of my career.
When you picked up that injury against Bel
gium, did you realise immediately how serious
it was?
Yes, I knew it might be a bad one from the
pain. It was just as I accelerated past the
defender and was about to break clear. That’s
when I felt the pain. However, I have great
faith and believed I’d be able to play again,
and I did everything in my power to be fit for
the Final. But football’s like that. It can put
you out of the World Cup, but it can also give
you a chance to make amends. Hopefully I’ll
get that opportunity.
Have you watched those World Cup games
No, I try not to watch them. (laughs)
Not even your goal against Switzerland?
That one, yes. From time to time I watch
some clips on Youtube, though it’s mostly
ones featuring the fans. When you’re actually
part of a World Cup, you don’t see any of
what’s going on outside, where many wonder
ful things happen. I heard bits from my family
about the sheer numbers who were travelling
and how committed they were. You don’t see
all that, which is why it’s nice to watch it now
and remember it in a different way. We’d have
loved to have given all our compatriots the
ultimate celebration and taken the final step,
and hopefully one day we will.
Have you ever wondered what might have
happened if you’d played in that Final?
No, because I firmly believe things happen
for a reason. If it was God’s will that I didn’t
play in that final, then it’s because I wasn’t
meant to be there. The players that started
gave absolutely everything. We had every
chance of winning that game and many
scoring opportunities, but the ball just
wouldn’t go in. They had two chances: one hit
the post and the other went in. That’s football
for you.
But tactically, against a side with such a high
defensive line as Germany, a player with your
skills might have found the gaps?
Yes, you could think that way after
seeing how the game panned out. Both
[Ezequiel Lavezzi] and Leo [Messi]
went at them at pace and got the better of
them. I think it would have been a different
game with someone in my role. I had a good
understanding with Leo throughout the
World Cup, but that’s football and God didn’t
intend it to be.
2014 was also the year you said goodbye to
Real Madrid. What’s your assessment of that
chapter now?
Well, I did everything asked of me: I won
the Super Cup, the Copa del Rey, the Champi
ons League and the Spanish league. I won
every title except the Club World Cup, as I’d
already left the club by then. I’d been there
four years and the time had come for a
change. I really wanted to play in the Premier
League, which I’d been watching since I was a
youngster every Saturday or Sunday before I’d
go and play for Rosario Central. It was always
a dream and goal of mine to experience
English football.
Football aside, how are you getting on in
Very well. The weather is the only thing
it doesn’t help a lot. (laughs). But I’m very
content here. The people have a lot of affec
tion for me, which is the most important
thing. It’s what I value most, and I have that
How are you progressing with the language?
More like regressing! (laughs). It’s very
bad. [I’ve learned] very little and only under
stand a small bit. That said, I’m trying to
learn it bit by bit and I’m taking classes.
Hopefully I’ll pick it up quickly.
You’re one of the few to have been long-time
team-mates of both Cristiano Ronaldo and
Lionel Messi. Do you tire of people asking you
to compare them?
No, because I always say the same thing:
that they’re two completely different players.
Angel Di Maria missed out on the chance to take to the pitch at last summer’s
World Cup Final, but “although I couldn’t play, it was still
the most beautiful moment of my career,” says the Argentinian.

Emotional memories
for Messi
rgentina won their second and most re
cent World Cup title in Mexico back in
1986, when
La Albiceleste
defeated Ger
many 3-2 in a thrilling Final. The tourna
ment is remembered for the performances
of one Diego Maradona, who led his team to
victory several times along the way.
The great Maradona continues to cast a
long shadow. Although Lionel Messi is now
repeatedly compared with his exceptional
predecessor, with some believing that the
man from Rosario possesses even greater
skill, the argument always ends the same
way: Maradona must be better because Mes
si has never made Argentina world champi
ons. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner con
tested what was already his third World Cup
in Brazil last summer at just 27 years old.
Five key moments
Every fan can bring to mind the scenes af
ter the final whistle on 13 July 2014, with
German players celebrating exuberantly as
the Argentinians consoled one another. At
the centre of it all, the losing side’s captain,
Messi, tried to hold back the tears, while
the Golden Ball award he collected as the
player of the tournament after the match
at the Maracana served as little more than
a consolation prize.
Although time cannot heal all wounds,
it seems to make past events seem more
bearable. With that in mind, FIFA.com re
cently had the idea of sitting down with the
2014 World Cup’s most important protago
nists to review some key moments from the
tournament. The first player to make him
self available for this special meeting in
front of the cameras was Lionel Messi.
The FIFA clip that resulted from this en
counter, entitled “Lionel Messi watches Bra
zil 2014”, caused a sensation when it was
launched online last week. “I don’t know
what to say,” said the Argentinian, visibly
moved as he watched his team’s missed
chances in the Final once again. “We’ll regret
it for the rest of our lives.”
Leo features in every game, making short
bursts and nonchalantly dribbling past one,
two or three players with great ball control
in tight spaces. Cristiano is more about
power, long range shots... they’re different.
If I were FIFA, I’d have two Ballon d’Or
prizes, one for that pair to fight over, and
another for everyone else.
There’s been a lot of talk about Messi of late,
even rumours that he’d consider a move to
Chelsea. As someone who spent time working
with Jose Mourinho, could you see them
In principle, I don’t think Leo wants to
leave Barcelona. It’s hard to walk away from a
club that’s given you everything, where you
effectively grew up. But to answer your
question, no I don’t think he’d have any
problem working with Mourinho. (laughs)
What do you miss most about Argentina?
My friends – and now more than ever, as
English football doesn’t stop over Christmas
and I couldn’t travel home. Then there’s your
family, who are always far from you, includ
ing my parents and those of my wife. They’re
all in Argentina, which can be also be a bit
hard to take.
Finally, is winning the 2015 Copa America your
top goal this year?
Hopefully we can manage it as I’d love to
win something with the full national team.
I’ve won an Olympic title and an U-20 World
Cup, but it’d be really special to round things
off with a Copa title with the seniors. It’s
hard, though, as there are many strong teams
at present, including Brazil, Colombia and
Uruguay, who fight every step of the way.
It’s a tall order but hopefully things go well
for us and we can finally give Argentina
reason to celebrate. Å
Angel Di Maria was speaking
to Alejandro Varsky
Messi watches Brazil 2014 (video):
A difficult moment
Lionel Messi, pictured in Rio de Janeiro on 13 July
(World Press Sports Photo of the Year 2014)
Bao Tailiang
Chengdu Economic Daily

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