Ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League meeting with Arsenal this week, Javier Mascherano has revisited some of his past experiences against the Gunners in this interview with the Guardian.
And one game in particular stands out for Mascherano: the return leg of their last 16 tie against them in 2011.
Arsenal had won the first game 2-1 at the Emirates, leaving Barcelona with a ‘remontada’ mission back at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona had gotten themselves 4-3 ahead on aggregate, when Nicklas Bendtner was presented with a golden opportunity to make it 4-4 – and put Arsenal ahead on away goals.
The Dane was all set to strike past Victor Valdes, when Mascherano sprung from nowhere to deny him.
And that moment was the turning point in Mascherano’s career, as far as he concerned:
Honestly,” he says, “after five, six months I thought it was unlikely I’d be here long: my characteristics seemed to go against everything Barcelona stood for. That moment marked me.
If Bendtner had controlled the ball and gone the other way, he’d have got away from me and … uffff! … I don’t know what would’ve happened.
But it happened the way it happened and we ended up winning that Champions League. Things worked out well.”
So….in a roundabout way, Bendtner is directly to thank for making Mascherano into one of the best players in one of the greatest teams of all time.
All hail Lord Bendtner!