Di Maria: Real Madrid thrive under pressure

Referring to the Barcelona and Manchester United ties, the Blancos ace thinks that his side perform best when their backs are to the wall, while Xabi Alonso criticised his own form

Angel Di Maria has backed Real Madrid to thrive in their upcoming away cup clashes as he believes they perform best with their backs to the wall.

The Blancos will visit Barcelona on Tuesday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final before taking on Manchester United in the second part of their Champions League last-16 double-header in March.

Both matches at the Santiago Bernabeu finished 1-1, and though Di Maria acknowledged that it will be difficult, the winger is hopeful that the pressure to succeed will help them progress in the two competitions.

“Things are going well and we hope to continue this way,” he told reporters at the reopening of the Bernabeu’s Adidas store on Friday.

“We know we must play at our best to move forward and that it won’t be easy. Maybe playing away will be in our favour because we do well when things are against us.

“We’ve had this week to work on the best way to face this matches and I hope everything goes well.”

Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso was critical of his own form heading into Madrid’s encounter with Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga on Saturday, remarking: “I’m in the recovery stage. I’m trying to get better as soon as possible, to get rid of the discomfort and return in top form.

And on the topic of his side’s European commitments with the English giants, the former Liverpool midfielder suggested that the team who draws first blood in the return leg at Old Trafford will ultimately prevail in the tie.

“[Manchester United] are a squad that are at home and, in the circumstances ahead of the match with the tie so open, they’re going to have lots of support from their fans,” Alonso added.

“It’s going to be a challenge and the side that scores first is going to have a good chance of moving on. Old Trafford is a great stadium and it’s the kind of match we all like to play.”

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