When Leo Messi sits down to write his autobiography, he might just have a chapter on his winter mate Angel Di Maria. The 34-year-old is injury-prone Juventus the winger scored the winner in the final against Nigeria when Messi won the Olympic gold medal in 2008.
In 2021, it was the nervous Argentine’s brilliant lob on Alison Becker that gave Messi and Argentina their first Copa America title since 1993. is Di Maria’s brilliance on the left that helped the Latin American giants go 2-0 against France before half-time. Unfortunately, an injury grounded Di Maria when Argentina played in the 2014 final against Germany.

In recent years, Di Maria has played most of his football on the right. He was also recovering from an injury he suffered in the game against Saudi Arabia and he was unsure for the final. But coach Lionel Scaloni, in a masterstroke, decided to employ the scintillating winger on the left, a position he played in when he became man of the match in the League final champions in 2014 for Real Madrid.
The move caught the French right-back Jules Kounde completely off guard and the cunning Juventus player laughed at Ousmane Dembele to win the first penalty which helped Messi make it 1-0. A little later, it was Di Maria who was the extra man meeting the beautiful ball from the left of Alister Mac Allister to bring the score to 2-0.


TOI 2022 FIFA World Cup XI

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Here’s TOI’s 2022 FIFA World Cup XI that ended with Lionel Messi leading Argentina to glory, scoring twice against France in one of the greatest finals of all time.

Di Maria, very clearly, was running out of steam and had to be taken off midway through the second half, but he had done more than was expected of him. Many felt it was Scaloni’s Di Maria move that tipped the balance in Argentina’s favour.
As the game wore on, Di Maria, sitting on the sidelines, couldn’t hold back the tears – emotions just poured out as fortunes continued to fluctuate. And when it was all over, Messi’s biggest hug was reserved for his old friend, with whom he won and lost in national colors for 14 years. Now is the time to savor, sitting on a park bench, the beautiful journey they have shared.

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