Argentina midfielder Angel di Maria has insisted his side have got their World Cup campaign off to a good start, despite needing a late wondergoal from talisman Lionel Messi to overcome group minnows Iran 1-0.
After also flattering to deceive in their 2-1 opening win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, manager Alejandro Sabella’s team have come under strong criticism, considering their status as one of the pre-tournament favourites, but di Maria believes that results have been encouraging given how their Group F rivals been lining-up to thwart their attacking flair.
"I believe we’re doing a terrific job. We did our best to win the game," he said. "That is the most important thing and to win the World Cup you have to win these types of matches. You have to get results no matter how. As I mentioned before, it’s hard to play when the opposition are all defending. We knew in the first phase that would happen but we have the players to win these games," he added.
"We can count on Messi. We’re happy with the fact he’s playing well and he’s showing that all the criticism is not true. Again, we’re happy because he’s amongst us and he’s playing very well."
With Argentina already qualified for the last 16, a draw in their final game against Nigeria will see them go through as group-winners but di Maria has stressed that the clash against the African side will be far from straightforward.
"We watched the Nigeria match and the truth is that they played a really good game," he stated. "They have good players and I believe they’re going to give their all against Argentina. They will give everything playing against us because a win can take them to the next phase."
One of the team’s core players, di Maria is playing in his second consecutive World Cup with Argentina, having won 49 caps since making his debut in 2008.
Signing for Real Madrid from Benfica in June 2010, the 26-year-old has been a regular with the side over the past four campaigns, helping the club to their historic tenth European title in 2013-14, after being moved from the wing to a more central role in the lineup upon the arrival of Gareth Bale.
Leading La Liga with 17 assists last season, the Madrid man however has admitted himself that he could soon be heading for the exit door at the Bernabeu, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all linked to the £40 million-rated international star.
Before his club future is resolved though, di Maria and Argentina will be looking to end the group stage on a high note against Nigeria on Wednesday, hoping to instil the side with some much-needed confidence ahead of the knockout phase.