Translation and subtitles: Dimos El Grec
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A transcript of the press conference can be found after the jump.
Pep Guardiola missed FC Barcelona’s South American players for most of the pre-season training with the likes of Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano having only joined on Monday (August 8) after spending a part of their summer break representing Argentina in the Copa America. In fact it is only yesterday that Mascherano was able to train with the entire FC Barcelona squad. But Argentina captain Mascherano, speaking at a press conference, is certain that he is physically fit to face Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Sunday, August 14 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Said Mascherano, “I feel good because even though I only came back a few days ago, I did a bit of training on my holidays.” With Pique suffering a muscle strain, it cannot be ruled out that Guardiola may be forced to play Abidal and Mascherano as centrebacks for part of the game if not the entire 90 minutes.
For his Argentina teammate Lionel Messi, Mascherano added that FC Barcelona’s instrumental striker “looks like he’s not been on holiday at all – he’s feeling perfect in training”.
Commenting on the upcoming ‘el clasico’, Mascherano said that the result on Sunday wouldn’t give either side an advantage for the remainder of the long season, but will give the winning side more confidence. He said the match “won’t be a big influence on the rest of the season, though a victory will give whoever takes wins a boost”. Nonetheless, he admitted that the game was significant, after all a title is at stake here. Mascherano admitted that FC Barcelona perhaps don’t have as much pre-season preparation as its fiercest rivals but that is not an excuse. The Argentinean said that “regardless of the form we [FC Barcelona] might be in, this is a derby game and there is a title at stake”.
The press conference obviously would have been incomplete without Mascherano’s views on the possibility of Cesc Fabregas being a FC Barcelona player. Mascherano, like his teammates, was confident that the Catalan midfielder would certainly join the club. “You can’t question his quality as a footballer,” said Mascherano in praise of Fabregas. “He’s a great player.” When asked to comment on the prolonged Cesc transfer saga being similar to his own last year, Mascherano said that “from the first moment that Barça showed an interest in me, I was clear that I wanted to come here and last season showed that I was right to take the step that I did.”
However, Fabregas is still not a done deal, what is is Alexis Sanchez. The defensive midfielder who can also fill in as centre back said that the Chilean will easily adapt to the Barca style. Said Mascherano, “My experience is that he won’t find it hard – he’s going to come into a spectacular group and he also has the advantage of having worked with Bielsa who is similar to Guardiola tactically, so he’ll know our system.“