Updates from Sunday, July 13
Angel Di Maria is not in Argentina's starting lineup for the World Cup final vs. Germany:
Earlier, The Independent's Charles Reynolds provides an update on Angel Di Maria's status ahead of Sunday's World Cup final clash with Germany:
The Albiceleste were rumoured to be considering the risky option of starting Di Maria in tonight's final, but that now seems unlikely given he appears to have pulled up with a thigh injury.
Di Maria has been undergoing intensive treatment on the previous injury he sustained in Argentina's quarter-final win over Belgium, and seemed to be doing well, coming through fitness tests on Saturday, so pulling up in training is a blow to his country's hopes.
Sabella said: 'We will see on Di Maria. We have special things planned for him. We will see. I'll have a better idea after we've trained.'
Updates from Friday, July 11
Angel Di Maria remains a serious doubt for Argentina ahead of their World Cup final against Germany.
The Daily Mail's John Drayton reports the latest on Di Maria's recovery from a thigh issue:
Angel Di Maria trained alone on Thursday as he stepped up his bid to be fit for Sunday’s World Cup final.
He trained alongside the team’s physios in Belo Horizonte while the rest of the squad, including Lionel Messi, enjoyed a light session.
Di Maria’s recovery has included the use of platet-rich plasma and an oxygen chamber.
Updates from Sunday, July 6
Juan Arango of The Telegraph reported more on Angel Di Maria's status:
OFFICIAL: Di Maria has a Grade I strain in his groin. Will not play vs. #NED— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 6, 2014
Di María will be evaluated later on in the event he could play in the final. #ARG— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 6, 2014
The #ARG team doc, Daniel Martínez, confirmed that Di María could be ready for the final and they will do "anything possible".— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 6, 2014
Earlier in the day, AS provided an update on Di Maria's condition after leaving yesterday's match against Belgium:
Di María undergoing stem cell treatment in a bid to be ready for the World Cup final http://t.co/0ifkzWjwZW— AS English (@English_AS) July 6, 2014
Argentina took an early lead in their 2014 World Cup quarter-final match against Belgium, but they suffered a blow when star winger Angel Di Maria was forced to leave the pitch with an injury before the end of the first half.
Via Yahoo! Soccer, he struggled with a thigh injury and was replaced by Enzo Perez:
33' Angel di Maria seems to be struggling with a thigh injury, and he's heading towards the bench. Enzo Perez on in his place. #ARGvsBEL— Yahoo Soccer (@YahooSoccer) July 5, 2014
Goal UK indicates the injury may be quite serious:
Reports emerging this evening that Angel Di Maria will miss the rest of the World Cup #ARG...— Goal UK (@GoalUK) July 5, 2014
Gary Lineker indicates this injury places even more pressure on the shoulders of Lionel Messi to perform:
Another star makes his World Cup exit. Di Maria limps off and Argentina get ever more dependent on Messi.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 5, 2014
Gonzalo Higuain hasn't been at his best during the World Cup and missed a good chance early against the Belgian Red Devils, but his pace out wide is vital for Argentina's squad, creating lots of space for the central players to run with the ball.
Di Maria's proficiency crossing the ball is also a big asset for striker Higuain, who scored the opening goal against Belgium.
Perez is a capable back-up with excellent vision, but he lacks the raw athleticism that makes Di Maria such a threat coming from the wing. Playing against two natural centre-backs in Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, Di Maria's pace was a big asset for the Albiceleste team.
The drop-off from Di Maria to Perez isn't a massive one, however, and Argentina are still in an excellent position to overcome the Belgian challenge and qualify for the World Cup semi-finals.