Wolfsburg - Life may not always have been plain sailing for since joining VfL Wolfsburg in 2010, but the Brazilian now has every reason to believe the tides are turning in his favour, especially on the back of his display against VfB Stuttgart last weekend.
"Diego made the difference"
The 33-time international was almost single-handedly responsible for the Wolves' 2-0 win, scoring the opener before setting up Alexander Madlung for the decisive second.
It continued the playmaker's recent upturn in form, with all five goals and four asissts to date coming after Matchday 8, which, incidentally, was when former coach Felix Magath departed the club.
The midfielder's importance has not gone unnoticed by new coach Dieter Hecking, who presided over his first competitive match since taking charge durting the winter break. "Everyone in Wolfsburg knows about Diego's qualities," the 48-year-old said. "He made the difference today."
Last summer Diego returned from a one-year loan spell with Club Atletico de Madrid after a disappointing first season at Wolfsburg, but is now thriving at the 2009 Bundesliga champions. Indeed, the former Werder Bremen midfielder revealed the secret to his upturn as being down to him "really enjoying playing football at the moment".
Such statements will be music to Hecking's ears, espcially having identified Diego has his "leader, the attacking fulcrum of the team," upon his arrival from Bundesliga rivals 1. FC Nuremberg in December. Even after such a short time together, the pair have already struck up a positive relationship. "Hecking is a superb coach," the Brazilian enthused after the final whistle on Saturday.
Yet Diego's display and the three points earned notwithstanding, Hecking was anything but satisfied with his side's overall performance: "I wasn't happy with the way we played. Stuttgart were in possession way too often. It was a lucky win." The statistics back him up, as the Swabians saw more of the ball (54 per cent), had more more attempts on goal (21 compared to eight) and more corners than the eventual victors (eight to three).
Saturday's encounter at local rivals Hannover 96, who Hecking coached between 2006 and 2009, will not only be a chance to make amends, but also an opportunity to avenge a 4-0 defeat in the Hinrunde. WIth Diego in current form, you wouldn't want to bet against it.