PSG's Angel Di Maria feeling good vibes on 'home' ground ahead of Champions League final
If any player has felt perfectly at home during the unique circumstances surrounding the climax to this year's Champions League, it is Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria.
Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine midfielder Angel Di Maria (L) celebrates with Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar after scoring his team's second goalduring the UEFA Champions League semi-final football match between Leipzig and Paris Saint-Ger
As soon as UEFA decided that Portuguese capital Lisbon would host the quarter-finals onwards in a mini-tournament, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Di Maria felt good vibes.
After PSG scrambled past Atalanta in a dramatic comeback, the 32-year-old was then instrumental as the Parisians outclassed RB Leipzig in the semi-finals to set up a meeting with Bayern Munich at the home of Benfica on Sunday.
It is the ground at which Di Maria played for three seasons while with the Portuguese club and the one which he returned to in 2014 to help inspire Real Madrid to an emphatic victory in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.
Di Maria was man of the match in that clash and now has the perfect stage to help PSG realise their ambition of winning Europe's most-coveted club crown for the first time.
"When they changed the venue to Lisbon, I had a strange feeling in my body that reminded me of the old times when I lived here for three years and how happy I was in Lisbon during those years," Di Maria told UEFA's website.
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"To be able to get to a final and make history with a club like Paris -- reaching their first final -- and because I won it in 2014 with Real Madrid in the same stadium...
"And to also have the chance to play the quarters and semis at the Estadio da Luz, as well as the final... It's been a great combination for me, it's felt really great."
PSG manager Thomas Tuchel has shown a lot of faith in Di Maria and has been rewarded. But he will need another big performance from the Argentine to help them ruffle a Bayern side who obliterated Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-finals.
"They're tough, they're a really well-organised team, and I think this will be their 11th European Cup final," Di Maria said.
"We know they have amazing players, players in incredible form, but we also have good players, our own system, our own way of playing, and I think we have a group that deserves to win the Champions League."
When Real won the 2014 title it was their 10th, a special moment in their history. Di Maria says helping PSG to a first would be just as big a milestone.
"Winning that tenth title was something amazing for Madrid and I became part of the club's history," he said. "Winning a first title here would be unforgettable for me personally, because that's been my goal since I joined."