Angel from the 1′ to direct the eighth against the Germans. He has won the trophies of all the opponents three and a half times and already in Nantes he dragged the Lady
Massimiliano Allegri took care of announcing it in the conference on the eve, almost as if he were a herald. “Angel is an extraordinary player, when he has the ball he is different from the others: he is physically fit and will start.” Angel is of course Di Maria, Lord of Cups. Juventus once again relies on him to direct the double challenge of the round of 16 of the Europa League against Freiburg, after the Argentine closed the Nantes case with a hat-trick, which was becoming tremendously complicated. Di Maria has seen so many, in the 127 international matches played with his clubs, that he can’t be frightened by a 1-1 first leg draw like the one with the French a few weeks ago. Today the opponent is changing, not Fideo’s mission: to take Juve by the hand and get them through another shift.
One against all
Football is a team sport, but having one single player who, alone, has practically the experience of the entire squad of rivals can help a lot. If we add up the matches played by Di Maria in the European cups and in the national team with Argentina, we arrive at 256. All of Freiburg (26 players) stops at 399: basically one and a half Di Marias to make up the whole German team. But it is clear that the weight of the matches played by Fideo is very different from that of the vast majority of Streich’s boys. The comparison becomes even embarrassing if we talk about trophies: 32 between club and national team for Angel, 9 for Freiburg, not counting those of a very young Lienhart at Real Madrid (he only played one match in the Copa del Rey before being added to the second team on a permanent basis for two seasons between 2015 and 2017). On Di Maria’s winning mentality, just ask any Argentinean: Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008? Angel’s goal. America’s Cup lifted in 2021? Fideo network. Final against Italy? Di Maria to sign. Final at Qatar 2022? Another goal from Angel.
However, Juventus fans and Max Allegri are more interested in the present than the past. Di Maria, between injuries and episodes (see the expulsion in Monza…) struggled in the first months in Turin, but in 2023 he definitely made a breakthrough, perhaps unburdened by the thought of a World Cup ahead, or even exalted by the victory in Doha . The numbers speak of six goals and three assists in 13 games. But it is above all the continuity of employment and performance that makes the Juve environment happy, so much so that, as explained by the CFO Francesco Calvo, the extension of the Argentine’s contract is no longer a chimera, but a possibility. He will talk about it before the end of the season. Today the thought is only for Freiburg, an opponent to be respected beyond the obvious difference in value and coat of arms.
Di Maria will have the task of inventing and, if it happens, shooting, but scoring is above all Dusan Vlahovic’s job. Almost an obsession, given the four consecutive dry matches of the Serbian forward. “I’m happy with Vlahovic – Allegri acts as firefighter -. In Rome he played a good game on a technical level especially in the first half. Being the starting center forward for Juve is different than playing for Fiorentina, but he has grown and is growing. For a striker There are moments, in the end the strikers are judged only by goals. Maybe against Freiburg he scores twice and everything changes.” Di Maria from 1′, Vlahovic probably as well… And then? Will it be a duo in the 3-5-2 or trident with the 3-4-2-1? “I haven’t decided yet, I’ll see tomorrow, I also have to consider Sunday’s match (against Sampdoria in the league, ed.) and Kean who is disqualified, so I have to manage the forces ahead,” explains Allegri. Beyond the forms, Juve will not have to make the mistake made in the first leg against Nantes, when they basked a little too much on the 1-0 draw, then conceding an equalizer from Blas even on the counterattack. Freiburg are one step above the French, at least on paper and not winning in Italy could be dangerous. Although Max always has the “super Angel” card to play when the ball is hot.
March 9, 2023 (change March 9, 2023 | 07:46)
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