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As he prepares to fill the void in FC Barcelona's defence, Javier Mascherano believes that the "smallest detail" could decide his team's UEFA Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid CF.
With Adriano (thigh), Maxwell (groin) and Éric Abidal (liver) all missing, coach Josep Guardiola will be forced to reshuffle his rearguard, meaning Carles Puyol is likely to deputise at left-back with Mascherano dropping into the centre from his usual midfield role.
"I've been asked to play in this position before, and have had to do so because of injuries to my team-mates and an illness to Abidal," said the Argentinian international, who also operated at centre-back in Saturday's 2-0 Liga win against CA Osasuna. "I will try to do the best I can. If the coach is confident I can play there then I am happy to do so. I am here to help."
A member of the Liverpool FC side that enjoyed a 1-0 UEFA Champions League victory at the Santiago Bernabéu two years ago, the 26-year-old – who has made eight appearances in this year's competition – knows a repeat performance will not be easy. "Obviously I was here with a different team and Madrid are also a different side from then," he said. "
We are now facing a historic semi-final and the Spanish league should be proud that they have two representatives at this stage of the tournament."
These eternal rivals are even more familiar with each other than usual having met twice over the last ten days, playing out a 1-1 Liga draw before Madrid edged a tight Copa del Rey final after extra time last Wednesday. Asked whether that defeat has dented Barcelona's morale, Mascherano said he and his team-mates have forgotten the disappointment and are now "hungry" to get the tie under way.
"The cup was another competition, and Madrid did better than us and won," he said. "This is a different tournament and involves two big teams coming together, looking to play two great games. I am full of confidence in my team-mates and in my team in general – our faith is very much intact.
"In the cup final at Mestalla we had bad points but we also had some good ones. We will want to reproduce our second-half display from that game, for example. We must concentrate as we have done all year.
We've got to this point because we've been doing things well and we have to continue along that path."
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