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Sep 3, 2014

Pablo Zabaleta puts World Cup demons to bed, hails Di Maria

Pablo Zabaleta controls the ball during Argentina's 4-2 win over Germany.

Argentina full-back Pablo Zabaleta feels that Wednesday's friendly win over Germany can help his team put painful memories of the World Cup final behind them.

Zabaleta, 29, played 77 minutes as the World Cup runners-up gained a small form of revenge for their summer defeat in Rio by beating Germany 4-2 in Dusseldorf.

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A repeat of the World Cup decider on July 13, Wednesday's game was also Argentina's first under new manager Gerardo Martino. The former Barcelona coach took over from Alejandro Sabella, who resigned soon after the last game between the sides.

Martino said after Wednesday's match that his players had wanted to carry on the form that got them to within minutes of glory over the summer. Speaking to reporters after the game at Dusseldorf's Esprit Arena, Zabaleta did not contradict his manager.

"After the World Cup final we wanted to come here and show team spirit again and try to win the game," the Manchester City defender said. "It's always special when you play against top teams.

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"I think we played a great game. Obviously it was important for us to win today. It was the first game of Tata Martino with the national team, our first contact with him and his staff. And I think everything was really positive."

Much of Argentina's success was down to an outstanding performance from Angel Di Maria. The player Manchester United spent 59.7 million punds on last month terrorised a depleted German back line all night.

Angel Di Maria had a goal and three assists as Argentina made easy work of Germany in a World Cup final rematch.

After setting up Argentina's first three goals, Di Maria then got on the scoresheet himself with a classy finish in the second half.

Both Argentina captain Javier Mascherano and Zabaleta hailed the former Real Madrid midfielder's display as "fantastic".

But the City right-back insisted that he and his club teammates were not overly concerned that Di Maria was now playing for their arch rivals.

"No, no" Zabaleta laughed. "We're not worried about that. We're not worried."

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