Argentina made to wait on Di Maria´s fitness before Australia meeting

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Lionel Scaloni has not yet had time to assess Angel Di Maria’s fitness as Argentina prepare to take on Australia in the last 16 of the World Cup.

Di Maria was substituted in the second half of Argentina’s vital Group C victory over Poland on Wednesday.

Having played in the late match, with opponents Australia through earlier in the day, La Albiceleste have little time to recover ahead of Saturday’s match.

Scaloni has described the situation as “absurd”, with the Socceroos enjoying precious additional hours of rest despite finishing second in their pool.

Now, as Argentina prepare to return to training late on Friday, Scaloni’s focus is on seeing how key man Di Maria is faring.

When a report of the winger’s injury was relayed to the coach in his news conference, he replied: “You know more than I do.

“I didn’t know Di Maria had a contracture. He felt some discomfort, but contracture? That’s new. You have more information than I do.

“Let’s wait for today and for tomorrow.”

Thursday had been spent resting – described by Rodrigo De Paul as “the first day I could really enjoy being here” – but there is no complacency around the upcoming match.

“Whether [Australia] are inferior or not, we need to see that. I don’t fully agree,” Scaloni said.

“They are a good team, and this is football. It’s 11 versus 11, and this is the reality. We need to leave aside the ‘favourites’ tag and play the game. Our idea is to play like in the last games.”

He added: “As we’ve been saying all along, we will break our backs on the pitch in this World Cup. We will be there to compete.

“We know how difficult this World Cup is. This is football, we’ve seen this yesterday and in previous games. For me, these are not surprises.

“When we think about big national teams, we think they should always be in the next phase, but sometimes that does not occur. Things get turned around. That’s what happens in football.”

As well as a repeat performance from the Poland game, Scaloni hopes to see the atmosphere replicated, too.

“I hope tomorrow can be similar to the match with Poland, because it felt like we were playing back in Argentina,” the coach said.



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