Javier Mascherano: “We shouldn't be negative. It's all in our hands”

Mascherano / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Barça central defender was auto-critical following the defeat against Valencia, but stressed that the team have to get their heads up and carry on fighting for the 3 titles at stake

“The margin of error from now until the end of the season is practically zero. Now it’s us who have to push on” the Barça number 14 said

He’s a player who speaks his mind and this Saturday was no exception. Javier Mascherano appeared on the program ‘El Marcador’ on Barça TV and explained the feelings from the dressing room: “It hurts a lot to lose the 3 points at home. It’s possible that we won’t stay top but there are still 16 matches left and we have to change things so that what happened on Saturday won’t happen again”. “We should have been two or three up after half an hour. The last 10 minutes of the first half and all of the second, things were different. We lost our shape and it really showed” he added.

Mascherano didn’t want to look for excuses and wanted to show that he has total confidence in the team: “We still have to play our two closest rivals. It’s clear that the margin of error from now until the end of the season is practically zero. Now it’s us who have to push on. We have to improve things but not send out negative messages. It’s all in our hands, and we still have a chance in all three competitions”. That’s why Mascherano stressed that the players have to get their heads up and be positive.
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Finally, when asked about the atmosphere in the dressing room on Saturday, Mascherano stressed, once again, the team’s winning mentality: “We are all winners, and when we lose we feel bad. It’s important that it hurts. In a team that wants to win things it should hurt to drop any points. From Monday on we’ll be in the right frame of mind”. Now they have to start preparing for the Cup match this Wednesday at the Camp Nou, against Real Sociedad.

We are all winners and when we lose we feel bad. It’s important that it hurts.

Azulgrana RoundUp, January 26 – February 1

Cesc Fàbregas celebrates a goal against Getafe / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
FourFourTwo analyses Cesc Fàbregas’ evolution since his arrival to FC Barcelona from Arsenal, and Mundo Deportivo recalls Xavi’s ascent to stardom under Luis Aragonés

“Under new coach Tata Martino, Fabregas is having his best season at Camp Nou and has emerged as one of the new manager’s key players,” writes Jonathan Fadugba for FourFourTwo.

To make his point, the journalist cites a recent interview with the Guardian, in which Cesc notes that “on the first day – well, not the first day, but maybe the third or fourth, early on – he called me over and told me: ‘I want you to be the player you were at Arsenal.’ And I thought: ‘Wow!’, because I’d always felt so good at Arsenal, so important. I’m not the No.10 exactly because things aren’t so clearly defined positionally as with Pep [Guardiola] and Tito [Vilanova], who were very focused on that. When we attack, Tata likes things to be a little more anarchic – just a little – which means that with the ball you can move away from a set position without any problems.”

Under Martino “Fabregas can roam free, dropping deeper to involve himself in play and getting further forward when Barca have possession to both create and score goals,” observes Fadugba. “His runs and where he receives the ball are reminiscent of the old Arsenal days, with greater variety in the areas he collects the ball and more chance to be ‘anarchic’.”

According to the journalist this has resulted in “more goals, more assists, a key passes per game ratio somewhat closer to (but still not as good) as the numbers he managed in his latter days at Arsenal.”

Fadugba has a point. Cesc leads the Spanish league in assists (10 from 20 matches), and he’s scored a total of 12 goals in all competitions. To put that into perspective, Fadugba points out that Cesc has “one less [assist] than he managed in 30 starts last season and as many as in the entirety of this first season at [the] Camp Nou – and his seven league goals (12 in all competitions) have been a contributing factor to Barcelona currently topping the table.”

Read the complete FourFourTwo article here.

The day Luis Aragonés decided Xavi would be a protagonist

“Barça and the Spanish national team started to have better days when Luis Aragonés decided that Xavi Hernández would become a key player,” says Mundo Deportivo. The Catalan midfielder made his debut for Spain under José Antonio Camacho in 2000, and continued to feature for the national team under Iñaki Sáez, but he really came into his own when the late former FC Barcelona manager took the reins of La Roja in 2004.

“The culmination of the project took place on June 29 2008. On that day Spain defeated Germany in the final of the Euro Cup,” says the Catalan daily. “He assisted Fernando Torres in the goal that decided the match and he was selected by UEFA as the best player of the tournament.

“Luis had a lot to do with the rebirth of the most decorated player in Spanish football. In fact, Xavi has always claimed that the two managers that have had the most influence in his life are Pep Guardiola and Luis Aragonés.”

Mundo Deportivo recalls a recent interview with Panenka magazine, where Xavi recounts one of his first interactions with Aragonés:

“He called me up [to the Spanish national team] in September. There he was, at the Ciudad Deportiva – Las Rozas. When he saw me he said: ‘What did you think? You thought this old son of a bitch wasn’t going to call you up, eh?’ I, of course, said: ‘No, no, I never thought that.’ Aragonés responded: ‘Yes, yes, yes, come on, get in and we’ll talk later.’ He was like that: he made you laugh, he grabbed you by the collar, lifted you up, and you left feeling motivated.”

Read the complete Mundo Deportivo article here.

Gerard Piqué turns 27 today. Happy birthday!

Gerard Piqué turns 27
This Sunday, February 2nd, Gerard Piqué turns 27 years old. The centre back has featured for FC Barcelona a total of 250 times

Gerard Piqué turns 27 years old this Sunday. The FC Barcelona centre back was born on February 2nd 1987 and he was made a Club member just hours after his birth. Piqué started playing football at the age of 10 in FC Barcelona’s youth academy. At the end of the 2003/04 season, he packed his bags and signed for Manchester United and then with Zaragoza. He returned to the Camp Nou in the 2008/09 season.

Since his return to Barcelona, Barça’s No3 has won a huge amount of titles. He’s secured 4 Ligas, 2 Champions Leagues, 2 Copas del Rey, 2 European Super Cups, 4 Spanish Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups. In addition, with Manchester United he won the Premier League, the Carling Cup, the Champions League, and with Spain he’s conquered the World Cup and the European championship.

In his six seasons with the first team, Piqué has been a near permanent starter for Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova and Tata Martino. At the start of 2014, in the Barça-Elche match  (4-0), Piqué played his 250th match in the Blaugrana strip. He also scored Barça’s 1,000th goal in international competitions when scored against Celtic in the group stage of the Champions League.

FC Barcelona don't have time to dwell on defeat says Dani Alves

Alves / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Brazilian says “we lost and now we have to pick ourselves up”

Busquets notes that “there no excuse” and that Barça must “focus on the next match”

FC Barcelona kicked off February with an unexpected defeat at home to Valencia. The Blaugrana, for the first time this season, lost a match at the Camp Nou. “We scored a goal, we had control and then we were predictable,” said Dani Alves after the match against Los Che.

“We let three points slip away when we had the match under control,” continued the Brazilian, who admitted that his team “gave away opportunities to a rival that didn’t have mercy.” Alves added: “We lost and now we have to pick ourselves up. There’s no time to  feel sorry for ourselves.”

The Brazilian isn’t concerned with losing the top spot of La Liga: “You lose the lead at the end of the season, not now.”

When asked about Barça’s defensive performance, Alves said that “in general it’s not just a question of how well we play on defence, we play a collective game where we all have to defend.”

“No excuses,” says Busquets

“This is the first defeat in a long time. It was an untimely loss,” said Sergio Busquets after the match. The midfielder said, “we didn’t play well, there are no excuses,” and he especially highlighted the fact that “Valencia used their weapons well …You suffer more when you concede three goals,” he indicated.

Busquets also praised Valencia’s newly appointed manager: “They are doing much better under their new manager.”