While England bored a half-full Wembley with a lacklustre 1-0 win against the 53rd-ranked nation in football, the de facto top two international teams on the planet went toe-to-toe in a World Cup final rerun, and one man emerged above all.
New Manchester United record signing Angel Di Maria bagged a hat-trick of assists before his own deft finish past Germany sub keeper Roman Weidenfeller
Here at news.bwin.com/en/ we called Argentina to win at 13/5 and Andre Schurrle to notch a consolation, which the Chelsea forward duly did at 9/4 (Click here), but few punters will have foreseen the devastation meted out by the Red Devils winger.
Respected website WhoScored.com wheeled out one of their rare 10.0 ratings for the 26-year-old, who successfully completed six dribbles and may have set young Borussia Dortmund defender Erik Durm’s development back for some time.
Oddly, WhoScored placed Di Maria as a left-forward in a 4-3-3 Albiceleste formation, which goes to show once and for all that if you want to know where a player featured in a particular game you have to watch it, and can’t rely on the internet.
Di Maria played as a right-winger against Germany, with his first and best assist – which rivals Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas’ at Burnley as the pick of the season so far – curling off the outside of his left boot into the path of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, who finished from a few yards out.
The native of renowned footballing frontwater Rosario’s second converted key pass wasn’t quite as brilliant and Spurs’ Erik Lamela will take most of the credit for a barnstorming side-foot volley, but Di Maria’s superb burst down the right flank, before cutting inside to again get on his left, made it possible.
The second-half third from a free-kick will not attract as much analysis from United fans, although having another whipper-in to compliment number ten Juan Mata is no bad thing.
However, Di Maria’s goal, despite it coming at the expense of a keeper and a left-back both unlikely to start for Joachim Low competitively any time soon, will have Stretford Enders drooling.
The player name-checked last month as a world-class winger by Van Gaal looks sure to start out wide in United’s next match at home to QPR, which they’re 29/100 to win, after making his debut as a midfielder in the 0-0 draw away to Burnley.
Whether it will be as a wing-back in a 3-4-1-2 or as a straight-up attacking wideman in a changed strategy is unclear, with a raft of transfers made in the last week of the summer window leaving everyone guessing as to what’s next in terms of Van Gaal formations.
Our best guess is that Ashley Young will miss out at left wing-back to accommodate Di Maria, with Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia making up the midfield ‘4’.
Valencia needs a big performance against the R’s though (the Ecuador international is 10/3 to score his first United goal since January against Harry Redknapp’s side) as Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw can all play on the left, so Van Gaal has plenty of cover should he wish to switch Di Maria over to the flank he dominated in Dusseldorf.