Javier Mascherano defended against the top players in the world in his peak, both for FC Barcelona as a central defender and for Argentina, Liverpool FC and other clubs as a midfielder.
Now a youth coach, does he still have it at 38?
That’s the question asked by a YouTube video that has him up against a few young players, who, despite being amateurs, are confident they can get past him.
The exercise is simple. Each youngster gets the ball and tries to get by Mascherano and score a goal against a goalkeeper. They get two attempts.
Without further ado, here is the video:
The younger players are all wearing jerseys, boots, and shorts. But Mascherano looks like he turned up for a light jog in sweatpants and everyday sneakers.
One by one, the youngsters try to get past Mascherano. There is a speed difference, of course. Even in his prime, Masche was not the fastest. And these days, the twenty-somethings have quite the advantage when it comes to quickness.
However, Mascherano uses his positioning and ability to anticipate better than almost anyone. One by one, the younger players just can’t shake him off. For his part, Mascherano seems to be playing almost at 50% effort. That was rare in his playing days, as he was one of the most committed defenders you could find.
Finally, the last player, who is a semi-pro steps up. He is clearly the best of the bunch. On his first attempt, he pokes the ball past the veteran at first, but Masche recovers in time.
On his last attempt, the semi-pro goes beyond Mascherano. The veteran gives up on the play uncharacteristically early. The Masche of old would’ve moved heaven and Earth, but this version didn’t seem too bothered.
The attacker finishes calmly past the keeper and finally, succeeds in scoring a goal for the amateurs.
“They were lucky because I’m too old now,” Mascherano jokes afterwards, noting he just can’t keep up with the young guys as far as speed anymore.
“I think he went easy on me,” Tomas, the scorer, says.
“For me, he let me score the goal.”