Sunday, May 20, 2018
Sports

Argentina scorer Angel Di Maria out for semifinal

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria was ruled out of Wednesday's World Cup semifinal against the Netherlands with a thigh injury, while striker Sergio Aguero was declared fit to play after recovering from a similar problem.

Di Maria limped off during the first half of Argentina's 1-0 quarterfinal win over Belgium on Saturday after straining a muscle in the back of his right thigh.

Team doctor Daniel Martinez said Sunday that tests showed it was a first-degree strain — the mildest kind, but added that Di Maria wouldn't be fit to play.

Martinez said Aguero, who sustained a similar injury 10 days ago, had recovered in an "excellent" way.

Losing Di Maria is a big blow for Argentina as it prepares for its first World Cup semifinal since 1990. Besides Lionel Messi, he has been the team's most influential player in Brazil. Di Maria scored the extra-time winner against Switzerland in the second round and set up Gonzalo Higuain's goal in the first half against Belgium.

Rough house: German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger thinks Brazil has crossed the line with some of its hard tackling and is urging referees to keep a closer eye on the host team heading into their semifinal on Tuesday.

"I am all for a healthy hardness but some of Brazil's fouls were over the limit," Schweinsteiger said. "Brazilians are not only football magicians, hard tackling is part of their game — we have to be careful and so does the referee."

Brazil committed 31 fouls in its quarterfinal win over Colombia, which had 23. Brazil has committed 96 fouls in five games, significantly more than Germany's 57. Brazil players have received 10 yellow cards, six more than Germans.

"Brazil is an outstanding team that plays at the limit of the allowed and will go over the limit if necessary," Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said.

High ratings: The four quarterfinals averaged about 10.29 million viewers in the United States combined on ABC, ESPN networks and Spanish-language Univision. Host Brazil's 2-1 win over Colombia on Friday afternoon was the most-viewed quarterfinal with 11.84 million: 6.35 million on ESPN and 5.49 million on Univision.

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