Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press
A win for Argentina over Iran in Group F on Saturday will see Alejandro Sabella’s men through to the knockout phase of the tournament, with Real Madrid midfielder Angel Di Maria set to play a leading role for the South Americans in Belo Horizonte.
Di Maria began his country’s opening match of the World Cup against Bosnia-Herzegovina on the left of the midfield as part of a 3-5-2 formation. While captain Lionel Messi rightfully took most of the post-match plaudits for his brilliant solo goal that won the match on Sunday, the 26-year-old also enjoyed an impressive start to the competition himself.
And while all eyes will be firmly fixed on the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner at the Estadio Mineirao, Iran would be wise to think of ways to try to also stop the Blancos wide man from picking the ball up and running with pace at the right-hand side of their back four.
In fact, anyone who watched Di Maria record 17 assists in La Liga will know that when in full flight, the Argentinian can at times be virtually impossible to stop.
And as the London Evening Standard's Tom Collomosse said of the little winger:
For Messi and his fellow starting forwards, likely to be Aguero and Higuain, to shine at their brightest, the role of Di Maria is crucial. ...
... With Di Maria prompting from deep, or surging forward with the ball, there are even more reasons for opponents to worry. That should, in turn, provide even more space for Messi, Aguero and Higuain to work their magic.
So do not be at all surprised if it is Di Maria’s turn to shine for his country on this occasion.
There could be a shake-up in formation, after Messi suggested he would rather Argentina operate in a 4-3-3.
When asked about Messi's comments, Sabella said, per FIFA.com, "I was not hurt by Leo's comment and he has said that before. He likes to play 4-3-3 with Di Maria up front."