Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano feels the club’s 4-0 win over AC Milan was a sign they have returned to their best form.
After a run which saw them lose three times in four games – two of them against fierce rivals Real Madrid, including a painful Copa del Rey exit – Mascherano said the team knew their standards had slipped.
But after their superb win over Milan in their Champions League round-of-16 second leg in midweek, the Argentine feels the team’s intensity levels are back where they should be.
“The most important thing is we qualified, which is a big step,” Mascherano said.
“Then, obviously after the analysis of the game we thought differently.
“We went back to doing many things that perhaps in the last few games we did not do.
“Things that have characterised the team for so long, such as pressuring to recover the ball when in attack, the intensity with which we press our opponents.
“They were small things that we were losing, but in the last games we could not do it, and in this team it is very noticeable.”
Mascherano said the Milan win had helped release the pressure that had been building on the team.
“During the last 15 days we lived in a situation that many of these guys are not used to,” he said.
“You must understand that for four or five years things went well, and perhaps even many in their career did not go through hard times.
“The fact that we lost against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey having lost at the Camp Nou, and then against Milan too, caused the team to receive a lot of criticism, and our tactics were questioned, and well, basically for these last 15 or 20 days we were analysing.
“We realised that we were missing a little of what we saw yesterday, maybe we lost that intensity when we pressed, that order has always characterised us, and we were trying to fix all these things all week.”