Masch - Reds up to task
Javier Mascherano believes Liverpool's destiny remains in their hands despite an abysmal week.
Last Updated: 13/03/10 2:05pm
Javier Mascherano believes Liverpool's destiny remains in their hands despite an abysmal week which could ultimately decimate their European hopes.
The Reds have endured a week to forget with two defeats in four days which saw Wigan claim their first ever win over the Merseysiders on Monday before Lille snatched a first leg advantage in their Europa League last 16 encounter.
Rafa Benitez's hopes of landing silverware this season has taken a blow and the Anfield aura will have to be in abundance next Thursday if they are to overcome the Ligue 1 title challengers.
But worse still - the much-coveted UEFA Champions League place which has been on tap for Benitez since arriving in England in 2004 is in real danger of being prized away with Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa all able to pull clear of the Spaniard's side should they win their games in hand.
But Mascherano, who has been one of the few Reds performers to find some form this term, will not accept his team's fate is out of their control ahead of a colossal week which starts with Portsmouth on Monday and ends with a trip to Old Trafford.
"We created chances against Lille but we couldn't score," argued the combative midfielder.
"Hopefully we will take them at Anfield. It was a difficult pitch, it wasn't the best but it wasn't the best for them either. It's not an excuse. Now we just start thinking about Monday.
"We've got to think we can win these two games, to get through to the quarter-finals and also get three points to help us in the Premier League. It is going to be a very busy week, with Portsmouth, Lille and Manchester United.
"It's very important and we have to keep our focus. Everything is still in our hands. Of course it was so disappointing to lose. We had some chances but we have to have confidence that we can go through. We've done it before and can do it again."
Mascherano insists Liverpool showed a marked improvement from the DW Stadium defeat in France and the Argentine skipper admitted the players did some soul searching this week.
"We have had a look at ourselves," the 25-year-old explained.
"The match in Lille was totally different to Wigan. We know we didn't play well there or create chances. But at least against Lille we created a few chances and should really have scored.
"We have got to score against Portsmouth then we will play the game against Lille as a final. Our target is the same. To finish in the top four and to do well in the Europa League. We know if we play well then we can progress.
"Wigan was a very bad game and a very bad night. We didn't work in that game as hard as we can and we could not complain that we lost. Lille was completely different but still we need to improve."
He added: "(Lille) is a difficult feeling because we lost a game we did not deserve to lose," said Mascherano. "It was a very tight game but still we have a chance to come back in Anfield. I am confident that we can do it. It's half-time and we have chance to change it.
"It was a totally different game compared to Wigan. We were working very hard and we didn't deserve to lose but that is football. We conceded a foul and then a set piece."