Angel Di Maria's late goal for
Real Madrid against APOEL Nicosia will have been the icing on
the cake for coach Jose Mourinho, as it appeared to signal the
return to fitness of one of his most potent forwards.
The pacy Argentine winger completed a 5-2 thrashing of the
Champions League last-16 debutants with a delightful lob on
Wednesday and he should be firing on all cylinders by the time
they meet Bayern Munich in the semi-finals later this month.
Di Maria is still one of the side's highest providers of
assists despite having sidelined with a string of niggling
muscle injuries since the turn of the year and he has only
started 12 league games and three in the Champions League.
"I suffered a lot after having a relapse on my injury and it
has been very tough." Di Maria told reporters after coming on as
a substitute to play a lively 35 minutes.
"I thought it was the end of the season for me but I am back
in time for the most important games."
Kaka and Jose Callejon also netted on Wednesday, as did
ever-present leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who bagged a
brace, and Mourinho was able to rest regulars such as striker
Karim Benzema and midfielders Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil.
The former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss appears to have most
of his multi-million euro squad in prime condition for the final
push and he has enviable options going forward.
His fearsome trio of Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema have
scored a total of 101 goals between them in all competitions
"The competition in the squad is very good," said Kaka, one
of the world's most expensive players who is not guaranteed a
place in the starting XI.
"Obviously there are players who are decisive but our
strength has been the group."
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