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Mascherano: Barca still the team to beat

Javier Mascherano says Barcelona are the same team they were under Pep Guardiola following Tito Vilanova’s promotion to the top job.

Guardiola resigned as head coach at the end of the last season after Barca surrendered the Liga crown to Real Madrid for the first time since 2008.

Some observers felt the team were coming to the end of a cycle, but Mascherano believes they have already shown they are still a force to be reckoned with under Guardiola’s former assistant Vilanova.

“There were people who expressed doubts at the start of the season that we were beginning a new cycle, but we have demonstrated that we are still the same,” Mascherano told Barca TV.

“This is a team which is full of life and we are determined to carry on doing what we have been doing over the last few seasons.”

Former Argentina captain and a world-class holding midfielder at Liverpool, Mascherano has been converted to centre-back at Barca, but knows he remains behind Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique in the pecking order.

“I’m not the first choice centre-back,” he said.

“I am here so that when something happens, I can go out and do a job.”

Mascherano has made 10 first-team appearances for Barca so far this season.

Tue 9 October, 2012
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