TITLE KNOCKBACK

Barcelona’s loss in their last La Liga match against Valencia has pushed them back in the title race, but, one of their senior players Javier Mascherano is still very confident and he reckons that the title has not gone out of his team’s hands.

If technically seen, the Argentinean defender is not wrong as there are still more than 15 games to go in the league. So, there is enough time left for things to turn around. But, the kind of form the other title contenders are in at the moment, this defeat might prove to be very costly for Barcelona.

Barcelona went into the game against Valencia with all cylinders firing. They took the lead in the 7th minute courtesy Alex Sanchez. They managed to keep up that lead throughout the first half and it seemed as if it would be another easy win for the defending champions, but, the second half started in a dramatic fashion. The visitors found the net twice within 3 minutes and got ahead by 2-1 to silence the huge number of home fans who had gathered there.

However, it didn’t take Barcelona too much time to level up as Lionel Messi converted a penalty successfully in the 54th minute, but, just 5 minutes later, the hosts were trailed again and the man who had done the damage for them this time around was Paco Alcacer. The 20 years old forward placed his sweep shot to perfection and stunned everybody.

Barcelona couldn’t equalize thereafter and ended up suffering their second defeat in the tournament.

Talking to the reporters after the match, Mascherano said, “It’s not ideal to get beaten in home games. We need to make sure that such thing doesn’t happen again in the rest of the season.”
“It’s very much possible for us to bounce back as there is no lack of time, but, we can’t afford any more mistakes.”

DEFEATED

Barcelona suffered the first league defeat of the season after a 1-0 score against Athletic Bilbao. As a result of the defeat, Atletico Madrid have moved level on points with the Catalan club at the top of the table.

After going several points ahead of archrivals Real Madrid, Barcelona were expected to coast to the title. However, this defeat has proved to be a major setback since it comes only days after the defeat in the Champions League to Ajax. A lot of questions have been asked about Barcelona's style of play since the start of the season.

Gerardo Martino has been able to escape significant pressure because he has been achieving results, but another defeat could prove to be disastrous for the Argentine, who was appointed only in the summer. Javier Mascherano has become one of the important players since his £ 25 million move from Liverpool. He has said that this defeat was indeed bad for the club, but he remains confident of recovering the form that has made Barcelona incredibly successful over the last few years. It is expected that Atletico Madrid will also be a title challenger this season. They have been able to stay in touch with Barcelona up until Christmas.

"It hurts to be beaten. Nobody likes to lose but let's not forget we are still leaders. We have to win the games that are left this year, beginning with the matches against Cartagena and Villarreal," said the former Liverpool midfielder to Barcelona's official website. The club's next match will be against Cartagena. This match will be part of the Copa del Rey, which is a trophy that Gerardo Martino will be keen to win. Mascherano has largely been used as a defensive player since his move to the camp Nou and he has so far excelled in it.

MASCHERANO SET TO LEAVE?

There have been several rumours that Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano, who joined the club from Liverpool for £ 25 million a few seasons ago, could be set for an exit away from the camp Nou. The midfielder refused to rule out the rumours by admitting that anything is possible.

This would put Barcelona in a difficult situation especially given that they have been looking to sign a central defender – without any success – in the last few months. They have been linked with almost every high-profile central defender like David Luiz and Thiago Silva, but their approach has been rebuffed by their clubs.

Mascherano has been utilised as a central defender since the days of Guardiola and it looks highly unlikely to change under the new management of Gerardo Martino. Mascherano was made as one of the best midfielders in the world by former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez. The midfielder has revealed that he is in regular touch with Benitez, who has currently taking over at Napoli. He was at Chelsea last six months where he managed to win the Europa league. The sale of Edinson Cavani has made Napoli cashrich and they are looking to sign several high profile players.

Mascherano has refused to rule out the possibility of joining Napoli.

"Moving to Napoli? I can only say that I speak with Benitez often. Almost every day we talk. I’ve always appreciated him as a coach,” said Mascherano in a recent interview. "You never know. In football, you have to be prepared for anything. There were calls from somewhere else, but no offers. There are always doubts. You are at Barcelona and you have to fight for your place," said the player to a Spanish newspaper a few weeks ago.
Barcelona have not revealed any offers from Napoli so far.

Mascherano backs Martino appointment

Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano has backed the club’s new manager Gerardo Martino to be a success at the club. Despite several fans calling the appointment of the former Paraguay boss a shock, the Argentina international believes this is just reward for a man who has achieved almost everything with Newell’s Old Boys and added that his lack of experience in European competition will not be an issue.

Martino was unveiled as the new Barcelona manager on Friday and his first job in Europe arguably braces him for the arguably the biggest task in the continent – that of taking over one of the best football clubs in the history of the game. The 50 year old replaces the departing Tito Vilanova, who has stepped down from his role as Barcelona manager after a relapse of his cancer.

And according to the former Argentina international skipper Javier Mascherano, Martino will be able to adapt seamlessly to European football and he is a shrewd enough tactician to adapt the winning formula that held him in such good stead in South America to European competitions as well. The former Liverpool man further stated that he doesn’t know much about Martino except that he has a 15 year coaching career, most of which had been spent with the Paraguay national team and he has achieved great results with them as well.

He further mentioned that he has never worked under him and doesn’t know what to expect but added that from what he has seen, he had completely changed the way Newell’s Old Boys play football. Javier Mascherano admitted that the brand of football Martino believes in is the one that Barcelona play and this makes it easier for the Argentine manager to adapt his style to the club and lead it to further success.

ALBA IS ONE OF THE BEST

Signed from Valencia in the summer, Jordi Alba has quickly established himself as one of the best left back in the world due to his attacking ability. He has also been extremely good in the defence as well. Alba has played a huge role in Barcelona establishing a 15 point lead at the top of the Spanish league.

The defender, though, will be missing a number of crucial matches for the club after suffering a hamstring injury. The club have today confirmed that the defender will not be taking part in the Spanish national team's match against France in the World Cup qualifying group.

He is also widely thought to be ruled out for the match against PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals as well. Alba suffered the injury in the recent 1-1 draw for Spain with minnows Finland in the World Cup qualifying group. As a result of this draw, Spain need to get a victory in the away match in France in order to avoid having to play a big team like England in the play-offs. After struggling to get past AC Milan in the Champions League last 16 stage, Barcelona will want to avoid the mistakes in the quarter-final against PSG.

PSG boasts the likes of former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their ranks. "Jordi Alba will be off for between seven and 10 days. Tests conducted this morning by the medical services of Barcelona confirmed the wingback has a hamstring strain in his right leg. Thus, if deadlines are met, Alba will miss Tuesday's commitment against France, and his presence is a doubt for the games against Celta and Paris Saint-Germain," said the statement from the Spanish club. The 24-year-old, Jordi Alba, has made 23 appearances for the club this season and has scored two goals.

ARGENTINA LOSE

The Argentinean football team has defeated Sweden in a friendly match played at Friends Arena on Thursday. Argentina won the match by 3-2.

The margin of Argentina’s victory suggests that the match was a close one, but, it isn’t the truth. Argentina was dominant for most parts of the match and was ahead by 3-1 till the 90th minute. It was a stoppage time strike by Rasmus Elm which reduced Argentina’s lead to 2-3.
The Sweden team was off to a disastrous start in the match. Mikael Lustig scored an own goal in the 3rd minute of the match and gave Argentina the lead. It was a great start for the Argentinean team.

The score became 1-1 in the 18th minute of the match. It was a fine corner kick by Kim Kallstrom. The ball went towards Jonas Olsson who jumped and headed it towards the net. The Argentinean goalie, Sergio Romero, tried to stop the ball, but, the shot had so much power in it that he couldn’t do much and the ball went into the net.

But, the joy of the home supporters didn’t last long as Argentina got ahead again in the very next minute. Angel Di Maria set up the goal and Sergio Aguero finished it wonderfully.

Just a few minutes later, Argentina made its lead more profound by scoring another goal. This time it was Gonzalo Higuain who cashed on a pass from Messi and found the net with a quick finish.

The home team desperately needed a couple of goals to bounce back, but, they didn’t succeed in doing that.

Although, in the injury time, Rasmus Elm whacked a great free kick from a distance of 30 yards to score the second goal for Argentina, but, that was too late for the hosts.

Talking to the reporters after the match, Javier Mascherano said, “It was a good match for us. We didn’t make too many mistakes. It would have been better if we had not conceded that last goal. However, we ended up on the winning side and we are delighted about it.”

HAPPY AT BARCA

The former Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has come out in praise of the Spanish club Barcelona by saying that it is a privilege to play for them. The Argentine midfielder sealed the £ 25 million move to the Spanish club a few seasons ago. Even though he is yet to taste major success with in the form of numerous league or European titles, but Mascherano has said that it is a great pleasure to play along with the players like Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta, and Xavi. This current Barcelona team has not only been thought of as the best team in the world, but also in the history of the sport as well.

They have been revolutionised by the manager Guardiola, who used to play for the club more than a decade ago. Under his regime, the manager to win six trophies in one single season, which has never been achieved by any club before. Guardiola decided to bring in the Argentine midfielder Mascherano to the club for around £ 25 million. Even though he is primarily a midfielder, Guardiola has managed to make him an agile defender as well, despite the lack of height. Mascherano has continued being one of the first-team regulars at the club even after the departure of Guardiola.

“Playing here is like winning a prize –it’s a blessing. My best moment here so far? In the two years that I have been at Barca, if I had to choose just one…the Champions League Final at Wembley. With Liverpool I got to a final, but we lost to Milan and I never thought at that moment that I would have another chance,” said Mascherano in a recent interview. Barcelona the favourites to win the league title this time around as they currently have a 13 point advantage over their main rivals Real Madrid.

VILANOVA STILL CONFIDENT

The Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has said that he remains confident about getting the results and the keeping a tight defence in the upcoming matches even without the Argentine Javier Mascherano. The former Liverpool midfielder is currently suspended and he only adds to the injury troubles for the new Barcelona manager. He already has two cope with the lack of Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique in the centre of defence.

Even though the Argentine is primarily a midfielder, he has become used to playing in the central defence for Barcelona in the last two seasons. Vilanova conceded that the absence of the defender will be a huge miss, but the presence of players like Sergio Busquets and Alex Song will help him tide over the crisis. Both Sergio Busquets and Alex Song are defensive midfielders, but they could carry out the task of playing in the central defence because of the Barcelona style of play.

Tito Vilanova has also said that he has faith in the youngster Marc Bartra, who could be in the starting line-up for the Copa del Rey match in the midweek. Mascherano is currently out of the match against Rayo Vallecano during the weekend as a result of the red card he got in the match against Deportivo la Coruna. The 5-4 victory was one of the most exciting matches in recent times, but Barcelona came out of the encounter with a red card for their defender.

"It is not ideal to have so many people missing in the one position, but the people who have come in have done well. Against Celtic (Bartra) played a good game and before the game I told him he would play a good game. If he is in the first team squad it is because I decided it. We need to judge Dani over the long term. He has had some physical issues and has not been able to perform at the level we know he can," said Vilanova.

DISAPPOINTED WITH DRAW

Javier Mascherano has said that the Argentinean team is pretty disappointed to have played a draw against Peru. The team should have won the match, but, unfortunately, the players didn’t play up to their potential. However, the Peru team should also be given credit for showing brilliant character against Argentina.

As per Mascherano, the Peru players didn’t look under pressure at all and showed brilliant calmness and composure. Generally, when you play against a team which is relatively stronger, you tend to be defensive at times. But, the Peru team didn’t play with defensive approach. They were on the attack and made the Argentinean players work hard in the entire match. Argentina sorely missed Lionel Messi.

The Argentinean team didn’t manage to register a victory against Peru in the World Cup qualifier match played on 11th of September at Estadio Nacional, Lima. Both the teams scored one goal each and the match ended in a draw. The Peru supporters were out there in the stadium in large numbers and the Players didn’t disappoint the home fans. 1-1 against a team like Argentina is a great result for Peru.

The Peru team earned a penalty kick in the 3rd minute of the match, but, the team wasn’t able to take a lead as Claudio Pizarro’s shot was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper of Argentina, Sergio Romero. The Peru players kept attacking and got ahead in the match in the 22nd minute when Carlos Zamorano capitalized on the cross of Luis Advincula and found the net from a distance of 8 yards.

After being down by one goal, there was a huge pressure on the Argentinean team. Gonzalo Higuain scored the leveller for Argentina in the 37th minute by latching on a brilliant pass from Ezequiel Lavezzi. There were no more goals scored in the remaining part of the match and the match got finished in the form of a draw.

Is Jose the special one

There is little dispute that Jose Mourinho is one of the world’s top football managers; certainly if the level of demand that a person is in constitutes an accurate reflection of their professional worth, then Mourinho.

Mourinho’s record as a manager is a formidable one – it’s just that he is not the only manager currently operating to have a record of similar pedigree. In terms of achieving the highest possible domestic and European success, Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola have both unquestionably achieved every bit as much as Mourinho has.

This would seem to suggest that the title is misplaced and that Mourinho is just one of several top quality managers. Certainly he is not the only very good manager in football right now, but arguably there are some qualities which still set Mourinho apart from others.

Mourinho seems to be a tipped for every major club that needs a manager by betting and casino sites alike, many of which offer great games. He clearly has a healthy ego and any consideration of whether he is worthy of the title ‘the special one’ should bear in mind that he actually gave himself this moniker – rather than it being bestowed on him by anyone else.

To start with there is the fact that he has achieved such a high level of success with a number of different clubs – including some which were never associated with that kind of success. For example, Porto – although they have been dominant in Portugal since Mourinho – never enjoyed that kind of status before then. By comparison, both Ferguson and Guardiola have achieved their success at single ‘big’ clubs, where such levels of achievement are expected.

Another point to consider is the level of tactical nous displayed by Mourinho – especially in overcoming a rampant Barcelona side on the way to winning the Champions League with Inter Milan. Factor in the astonishing degree of loyalty he inspires in his players, and it can be argued that Mourinho fully deserves the title ‘the special one’.

Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres
Ryan Babel

User login