Argentina are playing well, insists Di Maria

The Real Madrid winger has rejected criticism of his side’s showing in the last-gasp 1-0 win over Iran on Saturday and insists the Albiceleste are on the right track

Argentina winger Angel Di Maria believes his side played well in their 1-0 win over Iran on Saturday, even though they failed to break down a disciplined defence until Lionel Messi’s magnificent injury-time strike.

Di Maria, Messi and Sergio Aguero all missed chances for an Argentina side that grew increasingly frustrated by the ultra-defensive gameplan employed by Iran coach Carlos Queiroz and it looked as if the Albiceleste would have to settle for a disappointing draw until Messi’s divine intervention.

Criticism of Alejandro Sabella’s side has increased after their disappointing first-half performance against Bosnia-Herzegovina in their opening match, which was similarly settled by a brilliant goal from Messi.

But Real Madrid winger Di Maria said: “I’m happy with how we’re playing. It’s not easy when the other team put 11 men behind the ball – it’s impossible to play like that.

“If Messi doesn’t hit it from there, it’s difficult to score, but we created some good chances. The important thing was to win and we are on the right track. We played a good game.

Pressed further by journalists on his side’s off-colour performances against both Bosnia and Iran, Di Maria added: “We have won our two matches. With 11 men behind the ball it’s very difficult; you get past one, then there’s another defender, then you get past him and there’s another. It’s not easy.”

However, the 26-year-old claims he is unconcerned at his side’s struggles when it comes to breaking down such systems as he believes bigger teams will afford Argentina more spaces in the knockout stages.

“When you get to the last 16, you come up against teams who like to play, who like to attack. They will come out and play and that will suit us. Everyone knows Argentina are much stronger when we have spaces to attack.”

Di Maria and the starters against Iran trained in the gym on Sunday morning, while the rest of the squad were put through their paces and played a practice match at the Atletico Mineiro training facility outside Belo Horizonte.

Argentina play their final group game against Nigeria on Wednesday.

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