Angel Di Maria Leads Argentina to Copa America Title

Angel Di Maria will be getting a hero’s welcome…

Argentina won their first major title in 28 years on Saturday when a goal by the 33-year-old Argentine professional footballer gave them a 1-0 win over Brazil and a record-equaling 15th Copa America.

Angel Di Maria

Argentina’s win was a particular triumph for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who picked up his first ever title in a blue and white shirt after more than a decade of club and individual honors.

Di Maria started for just the second time in the Copa and he justified his selection by scoring the opener midway through the first half.

Renan Lodi failed to cut out a long ball forward from Rodrigo De Paul and Di Maria lobbed the stranded Ederson with aplomb.

Brazil piled on the pressure in an exciting second half but even with five strikers on the field they could not get an equalizer against an Argentine defense protected by the outstanding De Paul.

“I can’t cry yet,” Di Maria said after the match. “We dreamed of getting this, and we fought. Many people criticized us and asked us not to come back [to the national team].”

The match itself was a disappointing one, with Argentina the better side in a cagey first half that featured 21 fouls.

“First we have to congratulate our opponents especially for the first half when they neutralized us,” said Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.

“In the second half there was no contest — only one team tried to play football, the other just wasted time as we knew they would. It’s not an excuse, we didn’t do what we had to, principally in the first half.”

The Argentine players surrounded their captain at the final whistle. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez celebrated what he called a Maracanazo, a remarkable win at the famous Rio stadium.

“I’m speechless,” he said. “I knew my dream would come true, and where better than the Maracanazo and giving the title to the best in the world and fulfilling his dream.”

Messi finished the tournament’s joint top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint best player along with Neymar. But he was quiet throughout and uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to wrap the game up with two minutes remaining.

When the final whistle went, Argentina TV declared “Argentina Champions, Lionel Messi Champion!”

“This is a very big title,” said Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni. “I hope that Argentines can enjoy it. The fans love the team unconditionally and I think they identify with this side that never drops its guard.”

The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph and means they draw level with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners.

Their win extended their sequence of undefeated matches to 20 under Lionel Scaloni and handed Brazil their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup.

Messi Remains the World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Player

Lionel Messi could be called Mr. Money Bags…

The 28-year-old Argentine soccer star, a forward for Barcelona, is still the world’s highest-paid soccer player, according to a report to be published in Tuesday’s edition of France Football magazine.

Lionel Messi

Messi’s income stands at $84.3 million, according to the report.

His earnings in 2015 went up by $10.2 million compared to 2014, to surpass Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo at $76.9 million and Barcelona’s Neymar, who came third with $49.6 million.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel di Maria of Argentina was the top-earning player in France with $27.3 million, according to the report.

The report explained that the estimates took into account “players’ pre-tax salaries, sponsorship revenues and various bonuses.”

The report added that Jose Mourinho is still the highest-paid coach with $27.3 million, although he was fired from Chelsea last December.

Manchester United Agrees to Loan Deal with AS Monaco for Falcao

Radamel Falcao is the man(chester)

Manchester United has agreed to a loan deal with AS Monaco for the 28-year-old Colombian footballer, who also plays for the Colombia national football team.

 

Radamel Falcao

Falcao, who cost Monaco 60 million euros last summer, is set to join Louis van Gaal’s squad subject to a medical and terms, according to ESPN FC.

Falcao had also been a target of Real Madrid and had been linked with Arsenal and Manchester City.

His arrival will be one of two transfers United is expected to complete on deadline day, along with finalizing Daley Blind‘s move from Ajax.

Van Gaal had already brought in Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera, Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo and Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria.

European champion Madrid had been the favorite to sign Falcao, whose departure from Monaco seemed to be signaled when he was omitted from their squad to face Lille on Saturday.

Falcao, who missed the World Cup due to a cruciate ligament injury, scored 70 goals in 91 games for Atletico Madrid and 72 goals in 87 matches for Porto before joining Monaco.

Messi Receives FIFA’s Golden Ball Award After This Year’s World Cup

World Cup 2014

Despite a heartbreaking loss in the World Cup final, Lionel Messi is still a golden boy.

The soccer star and captain of the Argentina national team was awarded FIFA‘s Golden Ball award as the best player of the FIFA World Cup after leading his team to Sunday’s final.

Lionel Messi

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who kept a clean sheet as his side beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time at the Maracana to claim their fourth World Cup, was awarded the Golden Gloves as the tournament’s top keeper.

“It is a sad prize that I won because we wanted to lift the trophy for Argentina,” Messi said of his consolation prize, as if the look on his face had not already said it all.

Four-times World Player of the Year Messi had a quiet game by his standards on Sunday but was the driving force behind Argentina’s push to their first World Cup final since 1990.

He scored four of their six goals in the group stage, set up Angel di Maria‘s winner in the last 16 against Switzerland and shouldered the burden of slotting home Argentina’s first penalty in their shootout win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Messi also won four successive man-of-the-match awards against Bosnia, Iran, Argentina and Switzerland.

While some pundits thought Messi looked jaded after the group stage and did not influence his team as much, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he was a deserving winner.

“I think Lionel reached the pantheon of the greats a while back,” Sabella told reporters. “Yes, I think he deserved it. He played a great World Cup to get us where he did.

“I think it’s very deserved.”

Germany forward Thomas Mueller was runner-up to Messi and Netherlands winger Arjen Robben was third.

France midfielder Paul Pogba was named young player of the tournament, while Colombia took the Fair Play Award after receiving just five yellow cards in five matches in Brazil.

FIFA also praised their positive play and the behavior of their players and officials.