When Real Madrid announced the €100m signing of Gareth Bale in the summer, behind the flashing cameras and the screaming fans, Angel Di Maria could have been forgiven for not being the most enthusiastic of Galacticos to hear of the club's latest acquisition.
Alongside the signing of Isco and the astonishing form of Cristiano Ronaldo it would have undoubtedly been a daunting prospect for Di Maria to try and re-establish himself in a side that commonly played with Karim Benzema as a central striker, three attackers behind him and two holding midfielders.
This season, however, is arguably Di Maria's finest yet after scoring a sensational goal in Madrid's Copa Del Rey final win and looking a certainty to play a big role in the Spanish side's run-in both domestically and in Europe. The Argentine has been in prolific form in Carlo Ancelotti's 4-3-3 formation operating as a central midfielder alongside Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric, a role that Di Maria showed signs of exhibiting during his time at Benfica.
Since his arrival at the Bernabeu, Di Maria's pace and superb crossing ability have led to him being deployed as an out and out winger and under Mourinho his quick feet and eye for goal often caused serious problems for defenders. It is not to be forgotten, however, that Di Maria caught the eye of his current club playing on the left side of diamond midfield at Benfica alongside the likes of Ramires, Javi Garcia and Pablo Aimar and his experience in this position has put him in excellent stead for Ancelotti's more robust midfield structure.
Given Madrid's Champions League semi-final opponents it is hard to resist a comparison between Di Maria and another former winger that has converted to a more central role, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Although Schweinsteiger's role is slightly more defensive than that of Di Maria the German talisman has never had the pace and skill that Di Maria possesses and in many ways seems a more natural fit in a central role.
Although Madrid will be very satisfied with the result in the first leg, they will know that they cannot rest on their laurels. Bayern enjoyed a 72 percent share of the possession at the Bernabeu with 18 shots on target and if the German side can repeat those statistics at the Allianz Arena then Madrid could be in serious trouble. Too often Madrid lacked the intensity in midfield to pressure Bayern's ball players, Kroos (completed 117/120 passes) and Philipp Lahm (97/85 passes).
In the second leg Ancelotti should think about restoring Di Maria to his central role after playing most of the game at the Bernabeu on the right hand side of Karim Benzema. Di Maria would provide pace and energy into Madrid's midfield that could disrupt the flow of Bayern's passing game. Employing Di Maria in a central role will also offer a link between midfield and attack as the Spanish giants will surely look to hurt a slow Bayern defence on the break.
This could well be a tactic that the Argentinian national team employ at the World Cup this summer. Former Argentina striker Hernan Crespo recently declared that, "It is very important for Argentina that Di Maria is playing in the central midfield position," and given Alejandro Sabella's options out wide this could be a very strong option for a side looking to win its first World Cup in 28 years.
For now though Los Blancos need to ensure that their one-time winger is ready to fly into war as Madrid prepare to do battle.
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