Barcelona were blighted by internal issues, admits Mascherano

The Argentine has acknowledged the mood in the camp was poor at the start of the year and warns Real Madrid are still in the title race

Javier Mascherano has admitted that Barcelona were damaged by internal issues at the start of 2015.

The Catalans were beaten by Real Sociedad in their first game after the winter break and star player Lionel Messi’s relationship with head coach Luis Enrique seemed to have broken down after an argument on the training pitch.

However, Barcelona have since managed to turn things around and now sit atop the Liga table once more following their Clasico win over Real Madrid.

“We started the year with difficulties, with the defeat at Anoeta, which left us four points behind Real Madrid,” Mascherano told TyC Sports.

“Things weren’t so good behind the scenes. The team seemed to have doubts.

“But this situation has now disappeared. This is the situation we live in. The demands at Barcelona are massive and it’s not easy to meet them.”

The Argentina international also maintains Real Madrid cannot be ruled out of the title race despite their indifferent recent form leaving them trailing the Catalans at the top of the table.

“Now we’re four points ahead of Real Madrid. But this could always be turned on its head. The best thing is to always focus on the next game,” he said.

“Clasicos are difficult games, against opponents that push you to the limit, that are as good as our team. You need to try your hardest for every minute of the game, and that’s what helped us to win. That’s why we got the result we did.

“We’re aware that we didn’t beat Real Madrid with our best football. Barcelona always like to win, and especially to be better in a footballing sense, over and above the result.”

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