‘Little Chief’ Mascherano big on impact

  • Dhiman Sarkar, Hindustan Times, Sao Paolo
  • Updated: Jul 11, 2014 00:02 IST
Argentina-s-Javier-Mascherano-celebrates-after-Argentina-defeated-the-Netherlands-AP-Photo

Sergio Romero took Argentina to the final all right but the man who ensured that they stayed in the hunt with another superb all-round midfield show was Javier Mascherano. If Lionel Messi is this team’s inspiration, Mascherano is its engine, its heart. Or as coach Alejandro Sabella said, “its symbol, its emblem.”

Mascherano played all of the 480 minutes Argentina were on the pitch till the semifinals. And he was there for 120 minutes and more at the Arena Corinthians. It was Mascherano’s lunging tackle that stopped Arjen Robben from firing a late winner.

“That we went into the semi-finals meant a huge weight had been lifted of his shoulders. He has Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008) too. I don’t need to say much about him apart from the fact that whenever one of his coaches goes to another club, he wants to take Mascherano with him,” said Sabella.

One of the first things Sabella did was to make Messi the captain, the journey starting in Kolkata in September 2011. It happened because Mascherano agreed to hand over the armband to his Barcelona teammate. Mascherano is at the centre of a pre-game huddle and the most expressive. Before the quarterfinal against Belgium, he told the team: “I want joy again and we need to give everything to get that.” They don’t call him El Jefecito (The Little Chief) for nothing.

“This shirt means so much to me, it’s hard to explain,” Mascherano has said.

Mascherano stayed deep in own half for most of the semifinal but with vision and accuracy repeatedly found Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi or Messi on the inside right channel.

And he was always there to provide cover to the defence. One minute to go for the tie-breaker, Mascherano produced another sliding challenge to deny Robben showing why Barcelona make him play as central defender season after season while they look for a specialist. Typically, he has done it without complaint.

After victories against Belgium and Holland, Mascherano has been seen weeping. Having been eliminated in the quarterfinals of the past two World Cups and being an unused substitute in 2002, Mascherano, 30, knows what getting this far means. “We’ve crossed the Rubicon,” said Sabella on Wednesday.

The Maracana now awaits another dogged Mascherano show. On it could hang Argentina’s fate.

From Around the Web
Sponsored by Revcontent

also read

Jallikattu a tradition, so was child-marriage, SC says on plea to keep the sport
Show comments

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Chrome and Ad BlockPlus users

1.Press the ‘ABP’ icon in your toolbar at top right of this page

2. Click on ‘Enabled on this site’; this should now change to ‘Disabled on this site’


chrome



For Chrome and Ad Block users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Don’t run on pages on this domain’ and then click ‘exclude’ on the pop up


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Mozilla and AdBlock Plus (ABP) users

1.Press the ‘ABP’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Disable on hindustantimes.com’


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Internet Explorer and AdBlock Plus users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock Plus’ icon in your status bar at the bottom of the screen

2.Select the option ‘Disable on hindustantimes.com’


chrome

Steps to disable Ad Blocker on your browser


In order to serve content on our website, we rely on advertising revenue which helps us to ensure that we continue to serve high quality unbiased journalism. From our end, we will aim to show clean and unobtrusive ads to provide you with a great browsing experience.

Request to please follow the steps below and once done, please refresh your page.


For Safari and AdBlock users

1.Press the ‘AdBlock’ icon in your toolbar

2.Select the option ‘Don't run pages on this domain’ and then click 'exclude'


chrome