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September 25, 2017

Mathieu : Barca blamed me for Juventus defeat, excluded Pique , Mascherano

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As if he is regretting life at Camp Nou, former Barca employee Jeremy Mathieu.

Life is good at Sporting CP for self-confessed family man Jeremy Mathieu, having escaped the pressure cauldron of the Camp Nou.

Marca English caught up with the centre-back ahead of Barcelona's trip to Lisbon on Wednesday.

Have you set yourself targets for the remainder of your playing days?

"I am not looking at the end but everyone knows that I have Achilles tendon problems. At the moment I am fine, I am not in pain and I want to play for a long time. When it comes to an end I will stop."

They were these pains that led to the trial at Sporting before your official signing was announced? Or was this not the case?

"No, it was a problem with Barcelona, sorting out the paperwork. We could not announce that I had signed but it was not a case of a trial. It was done but the official announcement came later."

If you score a goal this Wednesday, will you celebrate or do you feel enough connection with the people from Barcelona that would make you hold back?

"I don't know. I have a lot of respect for my ex-teammates and the fans. If I celebrate it will be because of [club president] Josep Maria Bartomeu and [technical secretary] Robert Fernandez because I think the way they treated me was very harsh."

And beyond the president and Robert, do you feel the press was unfair to you in Spain?

"The press no, just the newspaper Sport. I'm a little pissed off with them because every time I played they always had something bad to say against me. But hey, that's how it was. Football is a team sport and when you lose it is never the fault of one person. That's my opinion."

"I have seen the match against Juventus again and everyone says that I was the problem. It is true that for the goals I was one against one and I did not win the ball, it deflected off me, but then Juve pass the ball and they could say what are Mascherano or Pique doing, but no. That's just my opinion."

Has your life has changed a lot since you moved to Lisbon?

"Compared to Barcelona yes. Here I feel a little like when I was at Valencia: it is a family club. I have felt very comfortable from the first day."

It looks as though you have a more important role, you even take free-kicks, which is usually a clear indicator.

"Yes. I think it is normal because at Barcelona were the best players in the world. I tried to do the best possible when I was there. I played a lot and I did the best I could in the three years I was there."

"The first two were fantastic for me and only the final was more complex but that is football."

Did you leave Barcelona with a bad taste in the mouth?

"No. I played a lot, I won titles and the only sad thing is that people say I did not play a lot. In my first season, I played 58 percent of games and scored important goals."

"In the second I played less, say 53-54 percent which is also not bad and in the final year it was difficult with the injuries and the lack of confidence from the coach but that's the way it was."

Did you leave a lot of friends behind at Barcelona?

"No, I wouldn't say, friends, more colleagues. It was fantastic for me to share a dressing room with players like that. Inside a club, I prefer to have colleagues rather than friends. Friends mean something important."

Ok, so you are not expecting calls from Barcelona players before the game to talk about it? Who was the colleague of which you spend the most time?

"No one, in particular, I spoke with everyone but away from the pitch I am a family person and I prefer to be with my children and my wife."

How do you see Barcelona without Neymar?

"They have had some good results and they have the player that makes the difference: Messi."

The other day you scored a sweet free-kick that Cristiano Ronaldo liked a lot. For this reason, we are talking about a change of role. What was it like being around there when a free-kick was about to be taken.

"I never went up, ever. Everyone knew who was going to take it because we had the best free-kick taker. I scored a free-kick once when he wasn't there but if Messi or Neymar were there then it was impossible. It was the same at Valencia with Silva, Mata and Villa."
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