Mascherano: Off-field issues won't derail Barcelona's treble bid

The Blaugrana are reeling after being hit with a transfer ban but the center back says such controversies are of no concern to the players.
Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano insists that off-field controversy will not derail the Catalan club's treble bid.

The Blaugrana had already been rocked by the resignation of Sandro Rosell as president because of an investigation into the legality of Neymar's move to Camp Nou last summer when it was revealed this week that the Liga champions had been hit with a two-window transfer ban by FIFA over the signing of players younger than 18.

However, with Barca currently in contention to retain its Spanish title, as well as lift the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, Mascherano says that the players, who have had to cope with the serious illnesses suffered by former teammate Eric Abidal and ex-coach Tito Vilanova in the past, will have no problem concentrating on matters on the field.

“We have the chance to win it all and we won’t give up despite what’s happening at the club," the Argentina international is quoted as saying by the Blaugrana's official website. “We play the game. This group of players has experienced nearly every kind situation. But the team needs to try to show what Barca is through football. Everything else isn’t our concern."

Mascherano also says that he had no problem with the supporters expressing their dissatisfaction during Saturday night's tough 3-1 victory over La Liga's basement club Betis, but argued that he and his teammates were suffering from fatigue after their 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League midweek.

“The fans aren’t used to games like this one, but they are the ones that pay to come into the stadium and, therefore, they can demand that we play well," Mascherano said. “We put in a big effort on Tuesday. Sometimes you don’t have the best of games and you run risks when you don’t kill a game off. It’s important to learn from games like this one."

Barca faces Atletico in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.