season has been a very strange and very surreal experience for me," Mascherano told the Times. "At West Ham, I was part of a struggling team and then I wasn't even getting a game. Then this
opportunity came and here I am taking part in a European Cup final. Surreal is probably the best way to describe what has happened to me this season."
There's no question that Rafael Benitez and his band of bilingual assistants have had a lot to do with that resurgence: no less than eight players on Liverpool's roster speak Spanish as a first language. "The manager [Rafael BenÍtez] has been crucial in my resurgence, crucial," the Argentine said. "I have a lot more confidence now because of his trust." Mascherano is expected to start ahead of Xabi Alonso in center midfield tomorrow, where he'll be charged with the considerable task of containing playmakers Kaka and Andrea Pirlo.