Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano believes that his side’s Champions League fate is in its hands, but he is wary of the threat that Manchester City poses.
The Catalans, who beat Man City 2-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 tie, have struggled for form recently and two defeats in their last three games has seen the team face criticism from fans and the media alike.
However, the 29-year-old is confident that his side can defend its lead and shake off City to book a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League when the two teams meet in the second leg Wednesday.
“We have an advantage and we’ll try to make the most of it,” the midfielder told AS. “But, at the same time, we can’t let that make us lose focus and we won’t come out to defend our lead.
"We can’t give them chances to counterattack, or give them space. We have to make the most of our advantage, keeping possession. It’s down to us to know what we have to do to go through to the quarterfinals.”
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The Argentina international insisted that Saturday’s defeat to Valladolid will not have a negative effect on the mentality of his teammates and believes his side should be encouraged by the opportunity of winning the treble.
“Sometimes things are dramatized more than others, depending on where you are. But if you’re a footballer and want to play at a club like Barcelona, that’s what it’s like.
“What we’re most worried about is trying to do well, staying focused on getting through to the quarterfinals. The team isn’t affected adversely at all [by the defeat]. We analyze things in a different way as [the press]. We’re in the Champions League last 16, we’re in the Copa del Rey final and we believe it’s possible to win the league.
“Tomorrow [against City] is a different story. We have to respond as we always have in these situations. First we have to concentrate on reaching the next round and then we’ll focus on the league. Our intention isn’t to shut people up; it’s to get back to our best. When we say we can fight for all three trophies, we know that the way we played against Valladolid isn’t the way to play.
“On the talk of loss of hunger, it’s very easy to criticize and talk after a defeat. Barca have shown that their appetite has never been satisfied. Don’t write Barca off just yet.”