Mascherano keeps on proving his worth

first_imgBARCELONA, Spain (AP): Javier Mascherano’s weight in the Barcelona team is measured by much more than his goals – or lack of. The club’s fans are more than happy to overlook the fact that he has never scored in nearly 300 appearances, because few players are as important to the Spanish champions. Having already proved his incredible flexibility over the years, the 32-year-old Mascherano is now learning another position. Mascherano is defying his age and increasing his worth in a team whose intricate passing style is incredibly demanding on players. The Argentina international has become coach Luis Enrique’s fix-it man. Already able to play either in midfield or as a central defender, Mascherano has now passed the test as Barcelona’s right back. He has filled in expertly for the injured Sergi Roberto, both as the right-sided defender in a back line of three, or in the four-man defence Luis Enrique used to thwart Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League. Enrique said yesterday that Mascherano may play on the flank for today’s visit to Valencia in the Spanish league. “The option of Mascherano is open,” said Enrique, who rarely reveals his line ups before the match. “He played a good match against City and he is one of the possibilities that I have for this and other matches.” Against City, he nullified winger Manuel ‘Nolito’ Agudo and also set up Barcelona’s opening goal. Stealing possession in City’s half, he sprang a quick attack that resulted in Lionel Messi’s first of three goals in a humbling 4-0 loss for former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. Mascherano’s value is his versatility and willingness to sacrifice in a team full of incredibly talented individuals – such as Messi, Neymar, Luis Su·rez and AndrÈs Iniesta. It was Guardiola who gave Mascherano the first opportunity to reinvent himself at Barcelona when he was struggling to find a starting role. Having arrived from Liverpool in 2010, he found Sergio Busquets well entrenched in his own position of holding midfielder. It was a simple choice: adapt or fail. So when a spate of injuries left Barcelona without a central defender, he seized his chance. Mascherano compensates for a height disadvantage with intelligent play, such as when he anchored the side that beat Manchester United 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final. “I never thought I would be here this long,” he said. “I know what I can do, but I also know the demands that Barca places on you. In any other team, I would have liked to play in midfield, but changing positions was worth it to keep playing here.” Mascherano plays in midfield for Argentina and is a key player for the side that reached the final of the 2014 World Cup, losing to Germany. His latest positional change for Barcelona goes against a customary trend. The usual evolution of aging defenders is changing from a wide position to slot inside, compensating for dwindling speed. Barca’s coach saw the potential for Mascherano to do this when Roberto injured a leg muscle earlier this month. He overlooked Roberto’s natural replacement, Aleix Vidal, and asked Mascherano to take on the role. Mascherano’s industry more than makes up for the fact that he has not scored in 290 appearances – a Barcelona club record for an outfield player. “I am not obsessed over it,” he said. “A goal wouldn’t change my life.” Mascherano’s contributions, which have helped win 17 titles, are fully appreciated and he signed a new contract on Monday until 2019. “My time here at Barcelona has been magical,” he said. “Year after year the team has kept its hunger.” SIMPLE CHOICElast_img read more

WATCH Crete strikes back with yet another hilarious half marathon video

first_imgThe Crete Half Marathon has become one of the island’s most hyped events attracting Greece runners and international Marathon aficionados alike.As per tradition, each year the video promo competes with the actual event in popularity as organisers have taken it upon themselves to promote Crete in the most original and fun way.The 2018 Half Marathon committee has released yet another great short video that offers a mini tour around the island and its culture with a fun(ny) twist.In the video a German tourist is enjoying one of the island’s most picturesque and off-the-beaten-track views when he almost gets abducted by a bunch of locals who are only trying to prevent him from committing suicide.Cretan music legend Psarantonis is also starring in the video as part of a quirky large family.Cretan hospitality is big in this promo, however, if things get super friendly in Arkalochori, Heraklion one might want to make a run for it like the German protagonist of the video.The 2018 run is set to take place on Sunday, 7 October in Arkalochori; thousands of athletes are expected to join and attempt their best time conquering the gorgeous and challenging route.Watch the video here for a taste of the Arkalochorian hospitality: Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more