Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni opted against using Angel Di Maria during the game against Croatia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-final to preserve him for the final.
Di Maria was an important player for La Albiceleste during the initial stages of the tournament. However, he didn’t feature against Australia in the Round of 16 clash. Di Maria played only eight minutes as Scaloni’s team managed to beat the Netherlands on penalties during the quarter-finals.
He was once again an unused substitute as Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 in the semi-final on Tuesday, 13 December. Julian Alvarez scored a brace after Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot.
TyC Sport journalist Gaston Edul has now reported that Scaloni didn’t play Di Maria to keep the Juventus attacker ready for the final of the tournament.
() Scaloni saved Di Maria for the final, because game was already resolved.
La Albiceleste reached the final in 2014 as well. While Di Maria was an important player for the team on that occasion, he missed the final and his country were defeated by Germany.
Due to a muscle overload on his left foot, Di Maria has been sporadic during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. It will be interesting to see if he starts for La Albiceleste in the final.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi claimed loss against Saudi Arabia made the team stronger
Argentina’s campaign at the 2022 FIFA World Cup started in the least anticipated manner as they were defeated 2-1 by Saudi Arabia on the opening matchday. Since then, Scaloni’s team has won every game.
Lionel Messi believes the loss on matchday 1 made the team stronger. He said (via Sky Sports):
“I would say the first match [the defeat against Saudi Arabia] was a hard blow because we had been unbeaten in 36 matches. To start in such a way in a World Cup, we did not think we would lose to Saudi Arabia.
“It was an acid test of the whole squad but we proved how strong we are. We won the other matches and it was very difficult what we did. Every match was a final and we were aware if we did not win things would be complicated for us.”
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