Fideo to his friends
Some called him overrated, some said he would never shine in the big stage. Some said Real have spent a ridiculous sum of money on a player who hasn’t proven himself. But Ángel Fabián di María, Fideo to his friends, has gone on to prove all his critics wrong or at least he is in the right path towards doing so. You might argue that it is too early in the season for me come to any conclusion about him. But then I find the remarkable way in which he has gelled into this team as a humongous achievement in itself and more over his 4 goals and 6 assists to add to his work rate has made him one of my favorite players in the world let alone Real Madrid.
Di Maria started his career at Rosario Central in Argentina, the same region of the world where Leo Messi hails from. After impressing for Argentina in the FIFA u-20 World Cup in 2007, Angel caught the eye of the menacing Europeans. Rubin Kazan had almost poached him when he reverted his decision to join forces with the Russians and in the end it was Benfica who won his signature with the Lisbon-based club’s President bringing him in to replace the veteran and club captain Simao who had then departed for Atletico.
He had earned a lot of praise and credit during his time at Rosario including the free-to-use “Next-Maradona” title with El Diego himself labeling the kid a little superstar. And he didn’t disappoint in Portugal as well. Like what he is doing now, Di Maria took no time to acclimatize to the conditions in Lisbon winning the love of the Benfica faithful. His hat trick against Leixoes won him the media’s praise as well. Above all that it was his performance against Liverpool in the Europa League last season that caught the eye of several big clubs. That led Benfica to place a 50 million Euros price tag on him so as to shoo away potential suitors. Just as the world thought Di Maria was going to stay at Benfica Don Florentino made an offer that they couldn’t refuse paying the Portuguese 25 million Euros plus a 11 million of incentives so as to land the Argentine as the first Galactico signing of last summer. It might have seemed like a mistake for us to have bought him before he could prove himself before the World Cup but so much was the confidence that our President had in him that he didn’t want to take the risk of losing him by waiting that long.
Di Maria made his Real Madrid debut against Club America in our first friendly of the season and scored his first goal against Hercules in the Alicante Cup, yet another friendly. But that wasn’t what made the Bernabeu faithful fall in love with the guy born on Valentine’s day. Real Madrid played Penarol in this year’s edition of the Bernabeu trophy. The stage was set for Di Maria to sizzle and what an impact he made! After taking himself past three defenders with some silky dribbling Angel sent the ball crashing into the roof of the net to seal Real’s 2-0 victory over the Uruguayans giving Jose Mourinho’s men victory on home debut.
That was just a sign of things to come. His sizzling goal against Sociedad, his winner at Auxerre and to top it all his stellar performance against Racing at home where he played as a left-winger, right-winger and a left-back at different points of the game has made Angel Di Maria a fan favorite and one of our most important players.
He has incredible pace and some neat touches that makes him escape even the bulkiest of defenders despite his lankiness. Fideo, which means noodle in Spanish, is definitely an apt name for this left footed player who can play on either wing or through the center depending upon the requirement. He can pass the ball well but his dependence on his primary foot i.e. the left does sometimes look like weakness and a tad predictable. His speed and acceleration though make him an ideal player for our counter attacking style of play. Another important attribute has got to be his willingness to help the full backs defend. I have seen quite a few wingers in my time but none track back as much as he does. Both as a starter and as a sub Angel Di Maria is an impact player. He is someone who is missed when not there and makes his presence felt when he has to.
I have no doubts that he will become a Real Madrid legend if he keeps up the promise that he is displaying (and of course stays at Real for a long time) but what I am right now worried about is whether we are over working him. He is a young player with a lot of hunger to play and win titles. But then he needs his time out. But with the intensity of the present day game and the number of games that a top team like Real Madrid plays, the players are bound to get tired/niggled. I am just hoping that Mourinho knows what he is doing but what I do is that majority of the times he does get it right. With Kaka on the road to recovery this is the ideal time for Di Maria to shine as the pressure of performing will not be as much as it will be once the legendary Brazilian is lingering on the sidelines. At the same time, if Kaka is still the Kaka of last season I see no reason why Di Maria won’t start ahead of him. And irrespective of that let us hope that we can bring more from our very own Angel.
Para Siempre Blanco!