Yes, it was a “warm up” match for the reigning world champions prior to their Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland this weekend. But Argentina’s 4-2 victory over Germany gave the South Americans a bit of revenge following their heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to the Germans in the final of the World Cup in Brazil a few months ago.
Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria was absent from the final and his omission was greatly missed by his home country. To that point in the tournament, Di Maria was arguably his team’s most valuable player next to Lionel Messi.
Prior to the World Cup, the 26-year-old was a major contributor to Real Madrid’s run to a tenth European Cup and a Copa del Rey title.
Despite his efforts, club president Florentino Perez opted to sell the attacking midfielder to Manchester United for a British transfer record fee £59.7 million.
Di Maria’s first match with his new club was last weekend against newly-promoted Burnley at Turf Moor. The winger showed glimpses of what may be to come in his United career, but he was ultimately substituted in the 60th minute due a slight knock; more so because of a lack of fitness.
But Di Maria’s three assist, one goal-performance against Germany on Wednesday showcased the Argentinian’s entire skill set and left some in attendance labeling him as one of the top three players in the world.
Working on the right side of the pitch, Di Maria assisted Sergio Aguero’s opening goal by curling a cross with the outside of his left foot. He followed that effort up with another perfectly executed cross from the right side which ended with Erik Lamela slamming the ball into the top corner of the net.
Then, shortly after the start of the second half, Di Maria whipped a sublime free kick to the far post which Federico Fernandez was able to knock past German goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
The Argentinian winger then capped his night off with a slaloming solo run which ended with the world class player chipping Weidenfeller to give his country a commanding 4-0 lead.
Following the match, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino called the attacking midfielder “one of the top four or five players in the world”.
Di Maria’s teammate Lucas Biglia, who also plays for Lazio, lavished more praise on Manchester United’s new arrival: “Messi didn’t play, but we had Di Maria – he’s not among the top 15 players in the world; he’s in the top three”.
What can be taken from the match is that United signed a player who can have a similar impact as previous number 7s have had at the club. The comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo have already come and there will undoubtedly be parallels made to other United greats who have donned the iconic shirt.
Following the Argentine’s move from Real Madrid, Louis van Gaal stated that Di Maria can “accelerate our philosophy”.
It would be hard to find a manager whose philosophy wouldn’t benefit from the world class versatility provided by the gifted Argentina international. Once the player is at full fitness, he is one of the top five players in the world.