Report: With fellow defender Carles Puyol struggling with injuries in previous seasons Javier Mascherano expected plenty of playing time. And plenty playing time he got. The initial plan was to rotate Mascherano and Puyol to play alongside Gerard Pique. It was a solid plan, but it worked for all of one month. Barcelona's captain was at that point for the first time sidelined for health reasons in what became an injury plagued season.
That forced Mascherano to (again) become a full time starter in Barcelona's backline. Due to the lack of center-back depth (and the reluctance to play Marc Bartra) Masherano and Pique became the most used pairing in the heart of the defense. The duo complemented each other very well and in the stretch until early November Barça's defense looked most competent when they played together.
After Puyol returned from injury, he and Mascherano began rotating again, but the former defensive midfielder didn't lose much playing time as he also spelled Pique to give the Spaniard some much needed rest. But when in mid-February Puyol went down with what turned out to be a season ending injury Mascherano started just about every game, and when he didn't he was substituted on in the second half.
The Argentine was arguably the most consistent and mistake free of all Barcelona defenders so when he suffered a knee injury in the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain it was a big loss for the already Swiss-cheese-like defense. The injury sidelined Mascherano for six weeks, forcing him to miss nine games, including three Champions League games. In that span Barcelona allowed 13 goals for a 1.44 goals/game, well above the season average of 1.16 goals/game.
Mascherano successfully returned from injury late in the season to start the last three games of the season. On the international stage Mascherano made nine appearances for Argentina, not featuring on the scoreboard in any of the games.
Throughout the season Mascherano displayed good positioning and excellent tackling. Playing mostly on the left side of the central defensive pairing he was often left one-on-one with the opponent due to Jordi Alba's attacking runs, but he fared very well in these situations. But air duels were a different story where due to his lack of size Mascherano was frequently outmatched.
Moment of the season: Mascherano was as steady as they come the entire season in the defensive zone, but we've come to expect that from him. Helping out on offense, however, is not. Down 1-0 in the first leg of the Supercopa de España against Real Madrid Barcelona were looking to quickly tie the game. Standing just inside the opposing half Mascherano floated a perfect 40-yard pass to Pedro who exhibited brilliant control to beat Iker Casillas to level the score.
barcelona real madrid super cup 2012 23.8.2012 pedro goal (via FunnyCallsW)
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
|BB Community Rating*||6.47
*BB Community Rating represents the average rating (out of 10) Barca Blaugranes community members gave to the player for his performances throughout the season
Record with Javier Mascherano in the starting lineup: 29-4-3
2013-14 Outlook: With Barcelona's center-back position far from certain it's difficult to estimate how much playing time Mascherano will get. If the Catalan club doesn't buy any defensive reinforcements the Argentine figures to rotate with Puyol and log close to what he did this season. But a new center-back joins the club Mascherano figures to play less as he would become a backup.
Next Up: Jordi Alba