Javier Mascherano has no doubt that Wednesday's game, the Copa del Rey semi final second leg at the Camp Nou against Valencia, will not be easy, even though they have a slight advantage after drawing 1-1 away. "We know it'll be a difficult game and that we can't depend on the result we got at Mestalla. In the cup you can score at any time and a tie that looks won can suddenly change."

Wide open

The Barça player feels the semi final is still wide open, and with the team level on aggregate "people are a lot more cautious" than they were before the second leg against Real Madrid, when "everybody was sure we had already qualified ... We knew that Madrid would fight, would throw everything at us, and the same will happen with Valencia, who want to reach the final as much as we do ... We are going to have to maintain the same attitude".

Turning to their league campaign, the South American said "if Madrid win everything they have to win, we'll applaud them and congratulate them as a fair champion. We have to do our job, and then just hope that they drop points along the way. That will be revealed at the end of the season. We can't just think it's all over ... But seven points is a big difference, so there is no room for error." But Mascherano insists that "we'll fight to the end. We have to win our games and hope Madrid stumble, but it'll be difficult."

Puyol and Piqué, best in the world

The Barça star also spoke about the partnership between Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué, calling them "the best centre back pairing in the world ... Both of them are doing well. Puyol has been impeccable in recent matches and Gerard is a great player too. They complement each other perfectly ... It's as if they had played together all their lives."

Finally, Mascherano commented on his compatriot Leo Messi: "He scored the other day and he looks fine to me. The coach decides how much he needs to play. He helps us a lot. For the matter of rest, we have physios and a coach who take charge of that. He is a player who prefers playing to training. Every physique is different. If he plays every match it's because he's in the condition to do so."

Welcome visit from INAC KOBE

The Japanese team featuring 2011 Ballon d'Or winner Homare Sawa, as well as the FC Barcelona ladies, came to the training session this morning at the Ciutat Esportiva. Mascherano was pleased about that, saying "we like people to come and watch us train, not just from Japan but all around the world, it's nice. It is good to know people are watching us in so many places. We will try to keep this up so that people can carry on admiring this team."

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