World Cup

Di Maria and De Paul, two Argentina World Cup hopefuls, are healthy.

Lionel Scaloni, the coach of Argentina, expressed optimism on Thursday that Rodrigo De Paul and Angel Di Maria

would be available for their team’s World Cup quarterfinal matchup against the Netherlands.

Due to an injury, Di Maria was unable to participate in the victory over Australia in the round of 16, and there are questions about the fitness of midfielder De Paul, who has played the entirety of the tournament in Qatar.

“They’re doing well. We’re going to see them in training today to decide the line-up,” said Scaloni, visibly displeased by reports that De Paul is nursing a hamstring issue.

“Yesterday we trained behind closed doors and I don’t know where this information comes from,” he bristled.

“The truth is always that after a match there are players who train separately or do half the session based on the number of minutes played.

“Today we will make the decision on how we want to approach the match. That is the most important thing.”

On Friday, Argentina will play the Netherlands in a rematch of their semifinal meeting from 2014 in Brazil, which the South Americans won on penalties after a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes.

The 1978 World Cup final saw the two nations square off five times, with Argentina coming out on top 3-1 after extra time. In 90 minutes, Argentina has never defeated the Netherlands.

“They kicked penalties yesterday. They always stay on practising penalties at training,” said Scaloni.

“It’s all about luck when you get to a penalty shootout. I hope we don’t get to that and we win the game before that.”

“Football sometimes can be very beautiful and sometimes it can be cruel,” he added.

Since Louis van Gaal returned to lead the Netherlands for a third time in August of last year, they have gone undefeated in 19 games.

When the Netherlands narrowly missed winning a fourth World Cup, Van Gaal was also in command.

Instead, a team from Argentina captained by Alejandro Sabella advanced before falling to Germany 1-0 in the championship game following extra time. Two years and one day have passed since Sabella’s demise on Thursday.

Sabella battled illness and heart issues for years before passing away in 2020 at the age of 66, less than two weeks after Diego Maradona.

“Today is a sad day for us. This was a huge loss for Argentina because of everything he gave to us and the values he passed on to us. I wanted to remind everyone of him,” said Scaloni.

“We’re going to give everything for this shirt to represent our country. When the game is over I really hope we can be happy with the result. And if not, I hope people can identify with us.”

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