Di Maria: 'We're stronger than last season'
Angel, the game against Madrid is coming up. How are the squad feeling?
"We're aware that we're stronger than last season. We have great ambitions and we can achieve them. But we also know that to win the Champions League, you don't only need talent, but also a little bit of luck. Without those two conditions, it's very tough to win that competition. I remember the final won in 2014 when I was at Real. We were trailing, the game was almost over, but we equalised in the last second to turn the match round. You need that little bit of luck to be able to win that sort of game."
How do you assess Madrid's form now?
"Real Madrid are a great team, and they always stand up to be counted in the Champions League. It's a completely different competition to the league. When the Champions League anthem is played, players surpass themselves and give their all. It's the same for us too, of course. Even if Real aren't particularly playing well in La Liga, they will give their all to beat us at their place, in front of their fans. It won't be an easy match."
What will be the key factors in the game?
"I don't think they play to have possession as we do. Our style of play is closer to that of Barcelona. Real mostly play on the counter-attack. When their opponents lose the ball, they go forward quickly, and they have the players to do that. That's why games against them are difficult to control. The key to the game will be to hold onto the ball well, play our game, play as we know we can, while also staying very focussed defensively, because we know they can score at any time."
Two of the game's biggest stars will go head-to-head too: Neymar Jr and Cristiano Ronaldo...
"They are quite similar players. They are both quick, very strong one-on-one, they play quickly and put a lot of intensity into their games. Ney is smaller, and that's perhaps his advantage. But they are both capable of turning games."
How do you explain your recent form?
"Here in Paris, the staff ensures all the players feel important. But when a player plays less, he can lose a bit of confidence. I struggled to put performances together at the start of the season as I had to get my self-belief back. After the winter break, I have started several games, and I was fortunate enough to shine again and wanted to make the most of my opportunities. And of course the support of my team-mates helped me immensely."