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Barcelona v River Plate: Mascherano ice-cold ahead of Club World Cup final

Javier Mascherano says facing former club River Plate in Sunday’s Club World Cup final will not distract him from making history with Barcelona.

A Luis Suarez hat-trick saw the European champions past Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao to set up a meeting with River, who edged past Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the last four.

Mascherano began his career with the Copa Libertadores holders and the 31-year-old admitted before the tournament that he would rather not have to face his boyhood club.

But the Argentina international insists victory is all that is on his mind as he looks to claim the second global title of his career, following success at the 2011 tournament.

“I’m totally committed to Barca. I want to win. I have an historic chance to be Club World Cup champion again,” he told La Nacion.

“When you’re in a team like this, you don’t look at who is in front of you, the expectations are so great that you have to do the best for yourself and the team.

“Obviously you don’t forget your roots, but in this situation, I’m cold.”

Barca are heavy favourites to secure their fifth trophy of 2015 – having won La Liga, the Champions League, Copa del Rey and European Super Cup already this year – but River striker Lucas Alario, who scored the semi-final winner, insists his side are fired up for the title themselves.

“We’re going for more. This is the title we’ve been dreaming about,” he told FIFA.com.

“I have to enjoy this. You don’t get the chance to be here and experience this very often, to soak up the amazing support of the fans in the stands. You have to be here to believe it.”

Barca are hoping to have both Lionel Messi and Neymar back for the final, with the Brazil star still recovering from a groin injury and the Argentina captain having sat out the semi-final due to renal colic. Rafinha (knee) and Douglas (foot) remain out.

Luis Enrique’s side are bidding to become the first team to win the tournament on three occasions, following their triumphs in 2009 and 2011, while River are seeking their first title.

Marcelo Gallardo’s side are the fourth side from Argentina to reach the Club World Cup final, but would be the first to lift the trophy should they defeat the Liga leaders.

Fri 18 Dec, 2015
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