Soccer News: Argentina forced to wait with Di Maria’s condition before meeting with Australia

    Lionel Scaloni has yet to appreciate Angel Di Maria’s fitness as Argentina prepares to take on Australia in the World Cup Round of 16.

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

    Having played at the end of the match against opponents from Australia earlier in the day, La Albiceleste has little time to recover before Saturday’s match.

    Scaloni called the situation “absurd” with the Socceroos enjoying precious extra hours of rest despite finishing second in their standings.

    Now, as Argentina prepares to return to training late Friday night, Scaloni has focused on seeing how key player Di Maria is doing.

    When the winger’s injury was reported to the manager at his press conference, he replied: “You know more than I do.

    “I didn’t know that Di Maria had a contracture. He felt some discomfort, but contracture? This is new. You have more information than me.

    “Let’s wait today and tomorrow.”

    Thursday was spent relaxing, which Rodrigo De Paul described as “the first day I really enjoyed being here”, but there is no complacency in the upcoming match.

    “Whether [Australia] worse or not, we have to see it. I don’t quite agree,” Scaloni said.

    “This is a good team and this is football. It’s 11 against 11 and that’s the reality. We need to leave the “favorites” tag aside and play the game. Our idea is to play like the last games.”

    He added: “As we have said all along, we will break our back on the field at this World Cup. We will be there to compete.

    “We know how difficult this World Cup is. This is football, we saw it 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 they don’t. Things are turning over. That’s what happens in football.”

    In addition to a repeat of Poland, Scaloni hopes to see a repeat of the atmosphere.

    “Hopefully tomorrow will be like the match against Poland, because it felt like we were playing in Argentina again,” the coach said.

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