Mascherano settling in nicely
In an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat, Javier Mascherano has made it clear that he is feeling welcome at the club. He loved beating Panathinaikos and knows what it means for Barça to play Atlético Madrid.
You’ve been in Barcelona for some weeks now. How are you feeling?
I’m fine. I am pleased that me and my family have been treated so well – in the
city, in the street and at the club. I am feeling happy and looking forward to enjoying this great
How are you adapting to your team-mates and the style of play?
I can only thank them. They have treated us as if we’ve been here for ages and although
the style of play is obviously different, it’s so much easier with so many good players
around you. I am settling in nicely, but I think it’s so much simpler with such high class
people and footballers as there are here at Barça.
After your debut against Hercules, Pep Guardiola said he was pleased to see you grasp
certain concepts straight away, and that was despite the defeat. Did you feel likewise?
You have to think of the team, not yourself, so I can hardly say I felt satisfied that day.
But I stayed clam, I listen every day and learn new concepts, because football is seen and felt
differently here. But I’m sure I’ll manage. I just have to change my chip and realise
that from the very first day everybody in the squad is ready to lend a hand.
Has Pep asked you to do anything specific?
He wants me to play the ball a lot more, because unlike in English
football, defensive midfielders here play their part in taking the ball forward. He’s always
telling me about positioning and making myself available, and where to be when we’re putting
pressure on the opposition. But it isn’t really all that different to what I have always
done. It’s more or less the same, just that you play a bigger role on constructing moves.
After the game with Hercules, you said the yellow card conditioned you. Are you worried
about adapting to the Spanish game?
I’m not worried, but I have to be careful not to get carded after 20 minutes because
that affects you for the rest of the game. I have to adapt, because I’ve spent a long time in
a much more permissive league in terms of physical contact, and sometimes you forget that when
challenging for the ball and so I need to put a stop on that. But I want to make it clear that it
was not an attack on referees here, it’s just that football’s different here.
Unlike on Saturday, against Panathinaikos we saw Barça playing the ways the fans are used
I know. I like football and I have watched a lot of Barça in recent years and know what they
are normally like. I have to say Tuesday was amazing, and against a big team with good players. But
like I said on Saturday, that defeat was an accident, the kind of thing that can happen in
To play like that against Panathinaikos when you’re stillñ not quite into your rhythm
after so little training today – what can we expect from this team?
People are naturally expectant after what has been done before. But
this will be a tough season, we’ve just had a World Cup, some players have had very little
time, and there were two international matches in the first week, which affects how new players
adapt to the team. But now the boss has us all together. Now he needs to make sure the older
players carry on as they were and the new ones need to learn to adapt to their characteristics.
The Atlético Madrid game is a challenge for you, especially considering Barça have lost on
their last visits to the Calderón.
It’s a very important game. They’re a difficult opponent and their confidence has
been boosted by winning titles and being top of the league. But it will also be a difficult game
They’re crazy end-to-end games, which isn’t a style Barça like and they can
Yes, these games have lots of goals, and no team can maintain control of the ball the way
Barça likes. On Sunday, I hope we can offer the same level of football as did against Panathinaikos
After losing on Saturday, do you feel obliged to win at the Calderón?
You always feel obliged to win. Not because we lost on Saturday but because this club always
wants to win. Every game we need to show that to the fans, and also ourselves. Sunday is crucial
because we want to stay high in the table, and because we need to give our best in every game if we
want to achieve things.
Have you spoken to your friend “Kun” Agüero? He has played well in recent games
I have spoken to him since we were with the national team. He’s a great player, with
loads of talent, and very experienced despite his age. I have enjoyed playing alongside him and
suffered playing against him. He’s hard to stop. He’s the kind of player that can tip
the balance of a game, and I hope he doesn’t do that against us. But as long as we
concentrate, it won’t be easy for him.