JavierAlejandroMascherano will feature in his 100th official match for FC Barcelona if he's given the nod to play against Real Madrid tonight. El Jefecito [The little boss], arrived to Barça from Liverpool as a renowned midfielder, and in just two short years as an Azulgrana he’s turned into an essential player for both Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova. Mascherano has played more than 60% of his games as a center back, pairing up with Puyol, Piqué and Abidal in the middle. His brilliant performances on defence have earned him the reputation of being one of the best defensive players in the world.
Mascherano enjoys his new position
On April 12, 2011, in a Champions League math against Shaktar Donetsk, Mascherano played his first game as a center back. Before that, he defended the Azulgrana colours as a defensive midfielder but his appearances for Barça were sparse. On that day, however, the Argentine proved that he could play in his new position. The following season, he became a permanent fixture in Barça’s back line. “I think it’s really positive that I changed positions, because it gave me the chance to play and it allowed me to consistently play for a big club, beyond that, I’m happy to give the manager various options to choose from,” said Mascherano.
“I think it’s important for a player to be able to play in two or three positions, it empowers the manager to choose which players get to play," said Mascherano.
Changing styles of play
Javier Mascherano has had to adapt to a position that was foreign to him when he arrived from Liverpool. However, the Argentine transitioned brilliantly and has become accustomed to the team’s style of play but he knew that something about his play needed to change if he was to succeed at FC Barcelona: “the most important change in terms of play [that I had to make] was my mentality. You know you have team-mates behind you to support you when you play in the midfield. Now that I play as a center back, I know that if I make a mistake it very well could result in a goal against us. With that said, I think it’s been a positive change in my career.”
Mascherano now has the chance to win his eighth title with FC Barcelona and play his 100th match as an Azulgrana.
“I think it’s really positive that I changed positions, because it gave me the chance to play and it allowed me to consistently play for a big club"