After an incredible 39-game unbeaten streak, Barcelona have gone through a bad stretch since the start of April. With two painful losses to Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, despite a huge 2-1 victory against Atlético Madrid, a cloud of questions is hanging over the Catalan giants, with many wondering if the Treble winners will throw away the titles they are such big favorites to win.
But defender Javier Mascherano, one of the leaders of the locker room, was in a confident mood in his press conference ahead of the Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Vicente Calderón on Wednesday. Instead of focusing on the bad results of last week, the Argentinean looks at the bigger picture, which is still a good one for Barça.
"The squad remains as confident as before. We are in a favorable situation: we can win all titles, we are still La Liga leaders, and we hold the advantage in our Champions League knockout. Throughout a long season you can have a bad match or an unexpected result here or there, but that doesn't change our plans. In order to win all titles we have to win the remaining matches and stick to our goals.
"There is no need to change anything. Everything is in our hands. If we are still alive in all three competitions is because of the good work we have done so far, and we need to do be at our best until the end of the season."
Mascherano, source: Diario Sport
When it comes to Wednesday's game against the Colchoneros, the Little Sheriff says his team will not change the approach because of the advantage of winning the first leg. But the players are aware of how difficult the game is, and are prepared to play a final.
"We have an advantage against Atlético, but we are still going after the win. We don't do speculating. Having advantage only gives us more confidence to go out and play our game and reach the semifinals.
"We need to win our first final on Wednesday. The doubters can keep doubting, we focus on ourselves, the details we have to work on in order to win the match."
Finally, Javier was asked about the amazing environment of the Vicente Calderón Stadium, which could be a factor if Atlético are able to shock the world and knockout the champions. Mascherano acknowledged the power of the crowd, but highlighted the quality of the football team in front of them, and speaking for his teammates, he showed plenty of respect for Atleti.
"We respect them greatly, as much as they respect us. They stick to their philosophy and I only hope we can be better than them. I also respect Atlético's supporters, but the most important thing is the great football team about to play against us."