Mascherano: Missing out would not disappoint me

BARCELONA midfielder Javier Mascherano has bizarrely claimed being left out of tomorrow’s Champions League final against Manchester would not be a disappointment.

Mascherano arrived from Liverpool in the summer and took a while to win over the Barca faithful, but the Argentina midfielder has impressed of late with some excellent performances in both defence and midfield.

The 26-year-old had looked set to miss out on a starting berth at Wembley, however, as the entire Barca squad is now fit for tomorrow’s showpiece.

But Guardiola is reportedly unwilling to start with both Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal — who have both spent lengthy spells on the sidelines — against an intense and fast United side.

Mascherano is ready for whatever Guardiola decides.

“It wouldn’t be a disappointment not to play — not at all,” he said.

“With the great team-mates and great players there are in this team, I am honoured to be part it. I’m sure our coach will pick the best XI we have and I will try, as I have done throughout the season, to offer myself to the team and help my team-mates, be it on the pitch or off it.”

Mascherano says meeting old foes United will not make the match more special, but concedes Alex Ferguson’s side are one of the world’s best teams.

“It’s a Champions League final — it’s special anyway,” he said. “Playing against United doesn’t make it more special for me, but I played against them lots of times and in general terms they are a very strong team.

“In general they are a great team and the statistics show that: in the last four years they have got to three Champions League finals and won three leagues. They are one of the best teams in the world today.”

The Argentinian also admires United’s battling qualities, but says Barca have those as well.

“They are not just a team that play well, but they have a great fighting spirit as well,” he said.

“But we also have that and I think that, in the final, with all of the great players we have, that’s a special plus.”

One of those great players is Lionel Messi and Mascherano is happy to be playing on the same side as his compatriot. “Messi is the best player in the world,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that, because he is the best player in the world, that he is going to decide the game on his own, but it’s an advantage. And I prefer to have him on my side.”


Lifestyle

Cross rope bridges strung across the Atlantic or visit reimagining of time gone by; whatever you fancy doing, you’ll find it in Ulster.Staycations 2020: Take your pick from these great things to do in Ulster

I can’t eat anything without chilli flakes stuffed into itShape I'm In: Novelis Emma Murray

Peter Dowdall has advice on caring for these perennial favouritesLook after your peonies and they'll brighten your garden

A routine smear test picked up Eileen Rushe's cancer when she was in her early 30s. It was a long road to recovery, says Arlene Harris.In check: Why every woman must get a cervical screening test

More From The Irish Examiner