Fernandez relishing Di Maria battle
21st February 2015
Federico Fernandez admits he is relishing the chance to go toe-to-toe with compatriot Angel Di Maria when the Swans host Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon (3pm).
The two Argentina internationals, who helped their nation reach the World Cup final in 2014, will go head-to-head in the Barclays Premier League for the first time following their moves to English football's top flight last summer.
Following his move from Napoli, Fernandez has formed an impressive defensive partnership with captain Ashley Williams for the Swans, while Di Maria has scored four goals in 23 appearances for the Red Devils so far this term after arriving from Real Madrid for a club record fee.
And having swapped text messages in the build-up to today's encounter, Fernandez is looking forward to testing his wits against his international team-mate.
"The whole Argentina World Cup squad is in a WhatsApp message group, so we keep in contact," said the centre-back, who turns 26 today.
"We've been in touch via text. I will speak to him after the final whistle, but right now I am focused on the game.
"Angel is a great player - one of the best at Manchester United - so he is one we will have to look out for.
"He's a player with lots of speed, who attacks spaces. He's capable of scoring or creating a goal, so we will have to keep an eye on him all the time.
"I've played with Angel for three years for Argentina. He's a great player, and I don't think he will have any problem in becoming one of the greats of Man United. But we will be doing our best to stop him this afternoon."
The Swans welcome Louis van Gaal's side to SA1 with the visitors in good form, having lost just once in their last 15 games.
Swansea inflicted a 2-1 defeat on United at Old Trafford on the opening day of this season but, in contrast, have won just once in their last seven league match.
But despite their dip in form, Fernandez insists a league double over van Gaal's men would provide a boost for Monk's side.
"We are very focused on getting the right result and to improve," he added. . "Playing against big teams with big players is a motivation for every player.
"Manchester United are in a good position in the league and will be a tough game, but we are fully focused. A win would be a great result."