Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria says all he wants for Christmas is a World Cup winners’ medal with Argentina.
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Di Maria is expected to be a key part of a strong Argentina squad for next summer’s tournament in Brazil, where he should play alongside stars including Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero, Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain and a host of other top names coming into the prime of their careers.
The Real Madrid winger, 25, told Argentine radio station Continental that winning the trophy will not be easy but his countrymen are dreaming of claiming a third world title.
“I would ask Santa Claus to bring me the World Cup,” Di Maria said. “The dream is to win the title in Brazil -- it’s what all Argentines want, what we want and what our families want. But we know it is not easy.”
Di Maria said Brazil, Spain and Germany were all very capable of success but that Argentina were going into the finals in good form.
“Brazil [are strong contenders], as they are the organisers, but there are also teams like Spain, who were the last champions, and Germany, who are going through a good moment and are very strong,” he said. “We just have to think about ourselves, and try to do things as well as possible. We are going through a good moment -- we are already qualified. We did great work to be able to go there.”
Di Maria, who won the 2007 U20 World Cup and 2008 Olympics with his country, said he knows what it takes to win a finals tournament.
“There are only seven games -- it is different from other long competitions,” he said. “But we know it is a hard path to arrive at the end.”
The player maintains that this week’s friendly games against Ecuador on Friday in New Jersey, and then Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday in Saint Louis, are important for coach Alejandro Sabella and his squad.
“These games, a few months before the World Cup, are useful for the team to keep improving,” he said. “We want to keep forming a great group, and to look to get good results and arrive at the World Cup in the best way possible.”