The Liverpool man sat down with Olé on the eve of Argentina's Copa America quarter-final against Peru. Giving us a peek into a holding midfielder's mind, Javier Mascherano says that even though he's got Lionel Messi and Co. up front, he can't relax for a second because his position calls for a full 90 minutes of concentration. And concerning his goal against Paraguay: "I shot towards goal, I had no intention of trying to put it into the corner like that."
The following is a rough translation of the full interview that ran in yesterday's edition of the sports daily Olé.
Are more people paying attention to the work you do in the middle of the field?
I feel that my job is always the same and I don't really care if people notice it or not. The most important thing for me is to do my job well so that the players from the midfield up can play without worry.
You give the impression that, because of your personal characteristics, you frown on the offensive side of the game.
I don't really think about it like that. If my task is to give balance to the team, and it works out that I make an important contribution in the last third, great. My overriding goal is to make the game easier for the everyone else. They should only worry about playing.
In your position, with all the great players around you, do you enjoy the match or do you suffer trying to complete your "task?"
I'm not one of those guys who really enjoys himself out on the pitch. That's just the way I have to play to get into this side. And I insist, I'm here only so that the rest of the team can play without any worries.
You don't even enjoy watching Messi or Roman [Riquelme]?
When I watch it on TV, sure. When I'm out on the pitch, I'm not very moved by it.
Against Paraguay, at the very least, you scored a goal that even they would have been proud to call their own.
Yeah, that took everyone by surprise, didn't it?
Three games played, three games won. Does the squad feel like it's got what it takes to win the tournament?
The team has to continue to play with a level head and stay concentrated for 90 minutes, and get better with each passing day. It's important to have won the first three games because it allowed us to stay in one place and not have to travel for the next match. To finish first in the group is a signal of confidence. We're playing well, we've got to continue doing so.
It seems that the heat hasn't effected you as much as it did earlier in the competition.
Yeah, in Maracaibo, it was hard to play with any rhythm for the full 90 minutes. We're not that used to to so much heat and I think it shows. Here [Barquisimeto] it's different, but that's not the reason we're happy we didn't have to travel.
Against the Paraguayans, you not only showed that you're in good form, but that, tactically, you can play elsewhere. With [Fernando] Gago as the No. 5, you moved to the right side of midfield. Although tomorrow against Peru you'll be back playing as the only holding midfielder, there is the possibility of playing two No. 5s together. Do you think it's possible?
Yeah sure, why not. I did it at River Plate on occasion and at Liverpool we've also done it, two holders in the middle. On the national team, with the players we've got, everyone can play together, without a doubt.
Mascherano and Argentina face Peru today at 6:50p ET, on GolTV and Univision.
Javier Mascherano Interview (in Spanish) [Olé]