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La Liga Preview: Málaga-Barça, Saturday 2pmEST, GolTV
Well, it’s back to more La Liga action as we roll into the weekend for a trip to typically sunny Málaga on the southern coast. It’s a big travel week for our boys, who were up in Arctic Circle Santander on Tuesday (I think every American sports fan reading this just laughed at Santander to Málaga being a big travel week).
Remember last time we were in Málaga and it wasn’t quite so sunny? Yeah…I watched the game at Downtown Bar and Grill in Brooklyn, home to wonderful beer and, well, just me that day. Empty as could be, but it had GolTV and I wasn’t headed to Nevada Smiths. It was quite amazing to watch that game and get progressively more sloshfaced alongside our boys getting progressively more and more, well sloshed on the field. It was early November and the weather was unusually nice outside in NY, but in Málaga, not so much. Hopefully this time will be a bit drier.
Let’s compare the teams involved:
17. Málaga: 1-0-3, 5GF 5GA
1. Barça: 4-0-0, 14GF 3GA
On the surface there’s not much a debate as to who will win, especially if you’re the type that gives any credence to prior results between the two teams. Last year was a 1-4 and 6-0 lesson in how to play this game we call footie from the boys in blaugrana. I don’t remember the particulars of those games (open and flowing with us dominating is my guess, but were they trying to make a shell and just failing miserably? I refuse to look back on our reviews! I’m lazy!) and, from my point of view, it doesn’t much matter because we’re talking different teams in different years.
This year is no different in a couple of ways, though: we still have our core team in place and they’re still Málaga. So we’ve got that going for us. I know it’s a bit silly to say those things, to act like we’re some sort of all-powerful machine, but, well, in footballing terms, we are. 14 goals in 4 matches is not something you can look at with disdain. 5GF and 5GA is not necessarily terrible (I think that Atleti would gladly take that at this point and Xerez would kill for it), but 3 of those 5 goals came from, well, a win against Atleti on opening day. I don’t know what that says about either Málaga or Atleti, to be honest, but we beat Atleti by the same goal difference (5-2), so that doesn’t help us all that much either.
Our squad list is: Valdés, Pinto, Maxwell, Abidal, Márquez, Puyol, Chygrynskiy, Piqué, Alves, Xavi, Busquets, Touré, Keita, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Ibrahimovic, Henry, Jeffren. That’s everyone who isn’t named Bojan and is in the first team. The Kid is still at least a week out, perhaps two.
El Mundo Deportivo is at pains to point out that Xavi loves playing Málaga because he scored 3 goals against them last year (1 at home, 2 away), meaning, naturally enough, that he’ll obviously score like 80 goals against them this time around. Or something. I don’t know, it doesn’t make much more sense than pointing out that Eto’o has scored against every Liga club he’s ever faced, so he obviously scores in every league game he plays in. Right? But, whatever, EMD ran that as one of their web headlines today because they really had nothing better to say.
Here’s something I have to say that is better than that story: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Chygrynskiy, Maxwell, The Yaya, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Messi, Pedro!
I know that Ibra is back in the lineup, but I don’t expect him to start or play any part in the match. Why should he? He’s injured and needs to be 100% for Dynamo, who we need to beat. I’d also like to see Iniesta get 75+ minutes, to really get back on his feet. I’m sure he must be match fit by now, right? I mean, come on, Pep, enough with the kid gloves already. I want our Ghostface midfield maestro out there conducting the orchestra of awesome that we have. He and Xavi are like twin engines that could, did, and then smacked yo mama afterwards. Goodness me, I think I’m getting all hot and bothered. Strictly fooball-wise, of course.
With Pedro! out on the field we’ll have a ton more width, but we might have a few more problems breaking through any bus that Málaga puts in our way, so I could see putting Keita out there as well. I know fatigue could be a factor against Dynamo at this rate, but it’s early going yet and I think that if Pep believes we need to win this match more than we need to win the next league fixture (vs Almeria at the Camp Nou), we’ll see a full on starting lineup against both Málaga and Dynamo, but not Almeria. Keita has been extraordinary at his position this season and it’s too bad we can’t implement the FloFlo 4-5-4. We just don’t have the bank loans for it, I guess. Perhaps we should assign Joan Oliver to find some dirt on the RFEF/LFP officials in order to make them let us play with our best starting, um…(does Guti math in head)…11.
Official prediction: 1-4. Another lambasting, really, with the exact scoreline from last year. Holy hell, really? Let’s just go ahead and buy EMD’s nonsense, okay? 2 goals for Xavi and one each for Henry and Pedro!.
Game times around the mundo:
New York/EST: 2pm
San Diego/PST: 11am
Sydney, Australia: 4am Sunday
Singapore: 2am Sunday
South Africa: 8pm (that’s for you, Andrew M)
Remember to check out the Where to Watch page above to see where you can watch the match while sippin’ a brew. Or eating paella.