Mascherano – Pressure on boss

Vilanova is now the first-team manager at Camp Nou after spending four years as Pep Guardiola’s assistant, having been promoted at the end of last season.

Argentina international Mascherano believes that the expectation which accompanies falling under the spotlight in Catalunya could come as a shock to Vilanova.

Mascherano told AS: “Tito will now carry the pressure, until now he was a lower-profile coach and all the responsibility fell on Guardiola.

“Now he has to assume the main role.


“With the move from assistant to manager he has gained notoriety.

“Today all the attention falls on him but he has always been an important part in the success of the team. Every one of us ought to respond in the same way.”

Mascherano, however, believes that Vilanova and Barca will benefit from having a fully-rested Lionel Messi for the first time in a number of years.

Argentine playmaker Messi has not played a competitive match in over two months; a welcome change after competing for his country in three major tournaments in the past four years.

“He has returned in good shape,” Mascherano said.

He continued: “It is true pre-season matches are to remember the habits, but the fact he has had a month’s rest has been proven to have an effect. This season he will be fresher.”