Arsenal defender Mari says Salah, Mane & Firmino are his toughest opponents
Arsenal defender Pablo Mari says that Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are the toughest opponents he has ever faced.
Mari signed for Arsenal on loan in January after shining with Brazilian side Flamengo, having previously been on the books at Manchester City.
It was with Flamengo that Mari faced off with Liverpool’s trio of stars, with the Brazilian side meeting last season’s Champions League winners at the Club World Cup.
And, in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, Mari revealed that his battle with that trio was the toughest of his career.
“I think this moment was the three strikers of Liverpool! Salah, Mane and Firmino,” Mari said.
“It’s because of speed, intelligence and their characters. I think these things are most important and make them top players.”
Liverpool battled Flamengo in the finale of that competition, with the Brazilian side topping Al-Hilal in the semifinals to book their date with the Reds.
Mari and Flamengo held Liverpool quiet for all 90 minutes, but succumbed to a 99th-minute winner from Firmino as Jurgen Klopp’s side emerged as world champions.
“We think we played a really good game there and we know Liverpool in that moment was maybe the best club in the world. They won everything and they won every game in the league. They are a really strong team,” Mari said.
“But we had one thing that we thought we could beat them with and that was our mentality. We had nothing to lose and everything to win so we could put this mentality in the pitch to try and win against them.
“But it was proved that in one action you can lose the game. But I thought we were fighting really well against them.
“Of course it was a really difficult to play against the front three because you know they are fast, they are strong and they know every player and what to do and they have really good quality.
“Of course it was difficult but I was focused 100% in that game and I know it was a difficult game but I felt like I improved a lot in six months there playing in Flamengo so that I can play against Liverpool and these three players.
“My focus when I arrived in Flamengo was that we knew we would play against a club like Liverpool in this final and that if we improved a lot we could beat them.”
Mari made just two senior appearance for Arsenal before the Premier League season was suspended due to the coronavirus.