OSAKA (Reuters) – Barcelona’s performance at the Club World Cup will affect the rest of their season as they try to win a league, cup and Champions League treble for the second time in a row, defender Javier Mascherano said on Tuesday.
Barcelona face Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande in their semi-final on Thursday and either River Plate, the Argentine club where Mascherano began his career, or Sanfrecce Hiroshima, champions of host nation Japan, in Sunday’s final.
“It’s important for us and for the club the fact that we can go there and compete to be the best in the world and above all, obtain the prize,” Mascherano told Barca TV.
“Barcelona are often talked about as a reference point in the world and now we have the chance to prove that. We know it will not be easy but we are excited about having the chance to do it.”
“Lots of people believe that this is a minor competition, but it is not like that, they are wrong,” he added. “For us it is a very important competition and it will have an effect on the rest of the season.”
Barcelona lead La Liga on goal difference from Atletico Madrid and have reached the last 16 of the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)