Argentina’s defender Javier Mascherano suffered not one, but two injuries during the semifinal match against the Netherlands. While not as dramatic and one sided as the Brazil vs. Germany semi, Argentina and Netherlands ended in penalty kicks.
Mascherano was knocked over hard, and ended up wearing a contraption that hung from his mouth for a portion of the match. But in the press conference following the game the defender revealed he also suffered from an unseen, a bit embarrassing injury, in the last minute of the game while trying to stop Dutch player Arjen Robben.
Recalling the play where he got injured for a second time, Javier Mascherano said:
“I thought I had slipped, I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I tore my anus on that move, the pain…it was terrible.”
“I threw myself into it. I could have been sent off. It could have been a penalty but anyone could have done that, I had the luck to get there.”
Thanks in part to the last minute steal from Robben, Mascherano allowed Argentina to advance to Sunday’s World Cup final, the fifth in their history. Argentina prevailed in the penalty kicks, thanks to the heroics of goalie Sergio Romero, who stopped two of the Netherlands kicks.
Javier Mascherano has turned into to a key player for Argentina, forget Lionel Messi, who, for the most part, has been successfully neutralized by their rivals. The Barcelona 30-year-old veteran has become one of the leaders of his team, as Argentina has had to adjust when Messi is heavily marked by opponents.
Leo Messi is the leader and captain of Argentina — an honor he inherited from Mascherano, who led his team in 2010 — however, Messi is a quiet, stay-in-the-background kind of figure, while Javier Mascherano is the one offering his teammates encouragement before games. Some of his teammates were touched by their leader’s words prior to the Belgium game.
Before the match, Mascherano told the rest of the Argentina players he “was sick of eating crap,” referring to the way people criticized them for not living up to expectations. Before the penalty shootout against the Netherlands, an injured Javier Mascherano took Romero aside and told him this was his chance to become a hero.
“I cried at the end because I have spent a lot of time waiting for this moment,” the 30-year-old said.
“This is my third World Cup and maybe my last one. It’s a delight to be in the final, a delight that lifts your soul. It’s something you can’t explain, it’s something I never imagined would happen.”
“And I know the people at home will be happy because two generations could not see Argentina in the final of a World Cup, they can see us there now so we are happy for that.”
Injured or not, Javier Mascherano hopes Argentina can redeem itself from the 4-0 loss to Germany in 2010 and finally silence their critics. If his team wins their first final in 40 years, then it will all would have been worth it.
[Image via Twitter]