Tuesday, May 01, 2007

MASCHERANO will never walk alone

History repeats itself. And history is sure teaching José Mourinho a very hard lesson. But apart from the managerial battle between the self-pronounced Special One and Rafa BENITEZ, there is something else that I would like to highlight after watching the UEFA Champions League semifinal match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge: Javier MASCHERANO will play in the final!

After he played a great World Cup in Germany, he went back to Corinthians and he started living a very difficult season. He got in the middle of a fight between the Brazilian team and the guy who owned him and Carlitos TEVEZ: Kia JOORABCHIAN, head of the MSI consortium.

So after a very controversial few days in São Paulo, the due emigrated to England and they were placed at Upton Park to play for West Ham.

It all looked really great for them and the team looked like they could achieve something this term. Maybe reaching a place in the table that will take them to Europe next season. But suddenly, it all started going horribly wrong for the Hammers. The Argentine duo were not playing very often and out of the two, there was no doubt that Javier MASCHERANO was the one suffering the most. Gone was Alan PARDEW and at one time there were rumours that West Ham could be punished if they played MASCHERANO and TEVEZ.

Javier was even involved in a horrible scene when Tottenham’s Jermaine DEFOE decided to bite him in the shoulder. That was the last time he played for West Ham. October 26th, 2006. Long time, huh?

Then it was dark times for him. The prospect of playing professional, high profile football again before the summer break was doomed by a FIFA regulation that impede players to wear three different shirts in one season. Javier had already play some games for Corinthians and some for West Ham. But FIFA allowed him to move to Liverpool and boom…he is now in the UEFA Champions League final match.

It was thanks to Rafael BENITEZ’s vision. He knew Javier was something special and he gambled with him. More than a gamble, I would say it was a safe bet by Liverpool’s head coach. And now it’s paid off.

For those who saw the match you may agree with me by saying he was arguably the best player on the field. If he wasn’t, then he clearly was amongst the best three or four in company of Jamie CARRAGHER, José REINA and Dirk KUYT.

MASCHERANO showed some touches of brilliance in the art of winning the ball and then give it to another boy in red. He lost a couple of ball that could have cost Liverpool dearly, but the number of time he dispossessed Chelsea players was far superior as were the short and long passes successfully delivered to a team-mate.
At one time, in extra-time, he stole a ball in midfield by going to the floor with a sliding tackle and then he got up in a nano-second to send Dirk KUYT through to face Petr CECH in a clear cut chance. Only that the Dutchman was flagged for offside.

But my favourite two moments of the nights for Javier were the following:

Late in the game, he chased Salomon KALOU down the sideline and with a sliding tackle he touched the ball and made it rebound on KALOU’s leg before it left for a throw in for Liverpool. In that very moment, all of the Anfield crowd went into delirium and applauded MASCHERANO with all they had. And Javier asked them for more. He made a gesture asking them to support the team even more.

And after the game, just before the penalty shoot-out, Liverpool skipper, Steven GERRARD, looked for Javier MASCHERANO to congratulate him and give him thumbs up for his wonderful display.

Once the whole Anfield crowd and legend Steven GERRARD recognise a player for his job well done, then I think he can relax now, he has found a club he can play for a long long time.
You can go to Athens now and see if you can relieve your Olympic memories before you help Argentina in our quest for the Copa America!



johnny said...

A great match today ! Liverpool played inspired futbol with a deserved victory. Javier certainly looked good and I take back my mild criticism of him (though if Drogba had punched one through after the one mistake Javier made, that would have been tough). So, tomorrow Heinze in action at his usual spot with Ferdinand and Vidic back in action.

Scott said...

Mascherano is the signing of the season for Liverpool. In the span of a couple months, he's relegated Sissoko to the bench. Tonight, he valiantly threw himself into some beautiful tackles even when another yellow card would have kept him out of the final.

This article tells of the lengths Rafa went to get him:


Makes Rafa look even more like a genius now. And to think he's only 22...the possibilities are amazing. Thanks Argentina!


Seba said...

Johnny, indeed it was a great match and in my opinion Liverpool deserved to win it way before the penalties.

Agreed on that Drogba's chance. Masche won a great ball against Lampard but then gave it away rather cheaply and Drogba almost scored in the following action.

Don't forget Masche is still very young and I think he is still far from reaching the peak of his performances. Those will come in the mid-to-late twenties. Good things to come for him and the Reds.

Scott, thanks for joining us. That is a great article indeed. I didn't know about Rafa's visit to Masche and now I think that explains a lot of things. But just look at how a meeting taking place several months ago can shape your team half-way through the season.

Everyday, I'm more and more convinced that the Special One is way more humble and speaks less rubbish than José. Everyday I'm closer to believe that the Special One sits in the bench at Anfield!

John said...

Great to be back after a two days break. Of course in between there are good news and not so good news as well.

The highlight of the week will definitely go to Javier MASCHERANO, on playing a crucial role for Liverpool success to the Champions League Final. Throughout the whole game, I was only paying my attention to him only in many ways I’m really amazed on what he can do.

The sad news is of course Manu Utd elimination as I was hoping to see both Javier and Gabriel HEINZE in the final. But it wasn’t to be.

Nevertheless I’m still trying to imagine myself being in Javier’s shoes, after what he has been through this season.

Anonymous said...

its painful for me but oviously the most inportant thing is argentines doing well(autho in the blue and white is always best)but as im a spurs supporter i have a dislike for both liverpool and manure.i told my liverpool friends when he signed that he will be the signing of the season,now they believe me but seeing maschrino do so well is a great feeling as an argentine.they cant do without us :)