Mascherano, Argentina’s man on a mission

July 11, 2014 at 11:24 am
Posted under: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Argentina, Argentina News, News
Javier Mascherano has emerged over the course of the World Cup as Argentina's captain-without-an-armband, the man who motivates team-mates, calls the shots on the pitch and does his share: that is how

Argentina's midfielder Javier Mascherano (L) and Netherlands' forward and captain Robin van Persie vie for the ball during the semi-final football match between Netherlands and Argentina of the FIFA World Cup at The Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014.  AFP PHOTO
Argentina's midfielder Javier Mascherano (L) and Netherlands' forward and captain Robin van Persie vie for the ball during the semi-final football match between Netherlands and Argentina of the FIFA World Cup at The Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO

“Let me enjoy this a bit, do you know how long I have waited for this?” he told reporters asking about Sunday’s final against Germany. “This is my first time, and it will probably be the only one.”

Mascherano, 30, is a natural-born leader, and he showed it again in Wednesday’s semi-final against the Netherlands, which Argentina won in a penalty shootout. “Today – today! – you are going to become a hero. Is that clear?” he told keeper Sergio Romero before the shootout.

Romero delivered by saving two Dutch shots. “I am tired of eating shit,” Mascherano, who has endured Argentina’s failures of recent years as a personal ordeal, told his team-mates Saturday, ahead of the 1-0 quarter-final win against Belgium.

He and superstar striker Lionel Messi complement each other: Messi gives Argentina their spark on the pitch, and Mascherano spices up their motivation. It is no wonder that he is nicknamed “El Jefecito,” the little boss.

When Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona became national team coach in late 2008, he made the midfielder his captain and announced that his Argentina team would be “Mascherano and 10 other guys.”

In mid-2011, when Alejandro Sabella became coach, he made Messi his captain, based on the undisputed football hierarchy of a man who had twice won the Ballon d’Or and was later to add two more, all of them in succession.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mascherano has the very rare privilege of having made his national team debut even before reaching the senior team at his club River Plate, at the age of 19.

Mascherano showed his determination to win the title against the Netherlands, making a run for every ball. “I tore my anus, what do you want me to say… Hence the pain. I don’t mean to be rude,” Mascherano told reporters later.

Fans went to social media website to praise his performance. “Mascherano would not claim back the Malvinas (Falklands), he would conquer England,” one fan joked with reference to the disputed islands in the South Atlantic. “If we send Mascherano to negotiate with the vulture funds, he will bring back change,” another said of Argentina’s debt crisis.

Mascherano took part in two World Cup campaigns that ended in the quarter-finals in 2006 and 2010, and he does not want to waste his one shot at glory. “This (the final) will be the most important match in our career,” he said. “We’re playing a final and we don’t just want to give it away.” “We can do it, because this team has proved that it can do it, and it is worth a try.”

Source : Sapa-dpa


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