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Mascherano launches Iniesta defence

Javier Mascherano feels that allegations made by Real Madrid defender Pepe that Andres Iniesta is an "actor" make no sense.

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In an interview with Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo on Friday, the Argentine international leapt to the defence of his team-mate, insisting Iniesta was among the most admired players in world football due to his behaviour on and off the pitch.

"Calling Iniesta an actor makes no sense," said Mascherano. "If there is an honest player in football, who is dignified and relaxed in himself, and admired in Spain and the whole world for how he behaves, it is Iniesta.

"Everyone has the right to say what they feel up to a certain point. When you blame someone else, you go further, you must have proof, sufficient arguments. Above all you should look at yourself, ask yourself if you have never done it. Human beings tend to look for defects in other people without realising they have them themselves."

Mascherano - whose career has brought success in his home country, in the Premier League and now in the Primera Division - also revealed that playing for Barca is the ultimate experience and a prize for all his hard work.

"I have had the luck to play for big clubs, like River (Plate), Corinthians and Liverpool, but from the moment you arrive at Barcelona everyone knows you more," he said. "Barca is tremendously big. To play at Barcelona was the high-point of my career, I have no doubt about that. My dream as a boy was to play professionally for River and I achieved that. Then I went to a European giant like Liverpool, who I really owe a lot, but arriving at Barcelona was a prize for the work I put in."

Employed as a rough and ready midfielder at Liverpool, Mascherano has been converted to a defender having played over a season-and-a-half at the back for Barca, usually alongside one of Carles Puyol or Gerard Pique. With those two both currently injured, ex-Arsenal player Alex Song and utility player Adriano Correia have filled in. When that happens - as when Adriano played centre-back during Sunday's 2-2 Clasico draw with Real Madrid - Mascherano said he felt responsibility to guide his partner through the game.

He said: "I know I am not a natural centre-back and I have had to play in a position I had never played before. Obviously playing alongside Puyol or Pique makes things easier, because they are players who make you better. Without them I have more responsibility as I have played there more than Song or Adriano."

That experience was more positive for the player than his previous game against Madrid, when an early defensive mistake led to a Gonzalo Higuain goal which set Real on course to claim the season-opening Spanish Supercopa.

"I am honest about these things," Mascherano said. "You should not be ashamed of making mistakes. It is part of life, of growing. When there is an error in a big game, which influences the result or settles a trophy, obviously it hurts me, because we all want things to go well. It does not have to be strange, it should be normal to say 'I was wrong'."


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