Mascherano challenges stereotype
Although he’s still not been at the Club 100 days, Javier Mascherano has shown that he is fully settled into his new team and to Spanish football and is quickly changing the stereotype of him as just a destroyer.
Since his first week, Mascherano has not received a single yellow card and has won a large number
of tackles without being blown up for fouls. The Argentinean came to a team with a unique style of
play, but he’s lived up to his reputation as an intelligent player and shown he understand
perfectly what is wanted of him and can fit in with Guardiola’s demands.
Hèrcules and Calderón teach a lesson
Without even a week of training with his new teammates, Mascherano
started his first game against Hercules at the Nou Camp and with his first tackle he saw his first
yellow card. Frankly, he was lucky not to see a second with his next tackle too and a week later he
did, during the game against Atletico Madrid.
That first week saw Mascherano unfairly labelled as a dirty player, but he knew that it was
just a matter of getting used to a new league and a new style of playing, telling reporters after
the Hercules match: “I’ll have to adapt to the referees over here, change my game and
not be so physical”. He’s certainly kept his word and the change has been great for
both him and the team.
No cards and few fouls
In the 12 games he’s figured in since the win at the Calderon, Mascherano
hasn’t seen a single card and has actually hardly committed a foul - just six in the six
games he’s started out of the total of 51 committed by the team as a whole.
It’s clear that Javier has learnt just where Spanish referees draw the line, but his
defensive duties certainly haven’t suffered as a result - he’s won back an average of
eight balls in those six games – more than any other player in half of them.
More involved going forward
Mascherano himself admitted that he’s never played in a team as committed to attack as Barça,
but he is making great strides to improve the attacking part of his game and is participating more
with every appearance. In Almeria, for example, he made 109 passes, with 105 of them finding a