Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mascherano not thinking of Berlin ahead of Juventus clash

SoccerNews in La Liga 10 Apr 2017

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Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano does not believe revenge will be on the menu for Juventus when they come together in a rerun of the 2015 Champions League final on Tuesday.

The clubs have not met since Barcelona ran out 3-1 winners in Berlin thanks to goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

But Mascherano does not think either team will have that match on their minds when they go head to head the first leg of their quarter-final in Turin.

“I don’t think revenge really exists in football,” Mascherano said at Monday’s pre-match news conference. “There are opportunities but not revenge because you cannot retrieve what you lost. 

“Juventus have changed a few players since then, and we have also, so we are only focused on playing a good game and earning a good result here. We will not be thinking of the match in Berlin.”

Mascherano is looking forward to facing fellow Argentina internationals Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, despite the threat they can pose.

“Gonzalo and Paulo are two great champions,” he added. “I know their quality really well as I play with them for the national team, so we will have to be very careful against two players who can decide a game with a piece of individual brilliance. 

“My role? I don’t know where and if I will play tomorrow. Midfielder or defender? It doesn’t make much difference for me.”

Juventus head into the quarter-final having won 32 straight league games at home and unbeaten in continental matches on their own patch in over three years, with Mascherano conceding the strength of the Serie A side will prove tough to overcome.

“We are excited. We hope to put in a great team performance,” said the 32-year-old. “We have to be loyal to our style; more so against Juventus because they are very strong at home.

“If we don’t play to win, it will go badly. We have to play our football to negate Juventus’ strengths. To get through we’ll need to play two very good games, not just in defence but in attack. We hope to be a great team collectively and get a good result here before defining it in Barcelona.

“In the Champions League if you’re not at a good level, or you’re not on the level of your opponents, the opponent will immediately let you know about it. We’re playing against a very powerful European team, a team which plays really well at home. They have fantastic stats and it’s clear they’ll play with a lot of strength. We need to be ourselves, to be recognisable in our style of play.”

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