A Return to the Pond: Málaga – Barça

La Liga Preview: Málaga-Barça, Saturday 2pmEST, GolTV

MalagaAway0809 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:
Spain/Local: 8pm
New York/EST: 2pm
San Diego/PST: 11am
Sydney, Australia: 4am Sunday
Singapore: 2am Sunday
India: 11:30pm
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.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. I was AT the Malaga @ Barcelona 6-0 game last year, and it was a SLAUGHTER. Malaga had two shots, Barcelona doubled their shots, and possessed it for over 80% of the game. I had fifth row seats at half field and saw Messi in the flesh. It was the single, greatest moment of my life.

  2. Yeah, the prediction seems about right Isaiah, although it is disappointing to accept at the outset that we will probably concede again against lowly Malaga!

    We are playing the most beautiful football I’ve ever watched in my life. The only other team that came even close to this Barca is probably Holland in the group stage of the Euro 2008 and perhaps the current Spanish team too. It sure as hell is a great moment for Barcelona fans.

    Living it up!

  3. I think the line-up would be some thing like

    Subs :
    Iniesta for Xavi
    Ibra for Pedro

  4. Messi has started the season on fire, I’m excited about messi and pedro! in the wings tomorrow. hope ghostface killah starts with xavi also and we see some true magic.
    have xavi-iniesta-ibra played along this season? ibra makes passes for the second line and that is great but the little guys don’t score many goals per season… that is a thing we can improve this year

  5. Off topic, but for any other South Asians out there, I will be liveblogging the Pakistan-India game tomorrow on my blog. Click on my name here to get to it.

    And yes, Pakistan-India is slightly more important to me than Barca-Malaga, so I’ll have to watch the replay.

    1. it’s like a brazil-argentina but in asia I guess, an enormous game… I’ll still watch barça though 😉

    2. Honestly, I’m picking Barcelona v Xerez, Barcelona v Tenerife, or Barcelona v. anyone over Mexico v United States.

      Barca > all.

    3. Haha. Well to each his own. My guess is that your views are shaped, in part, by the fact that has been greater political stability b/w Mexico and the US than there has been in South Asia. It is very, very hard for South Asians to ignore Pak-Ind matches, even if they’re bleeding heart liberals such as myself.

    4. Hey, I’m from India! will probably catch some of the game if I have the time. Still wouldn’t pick it over the Barcelona game though. I am patriotic, however cricket isn’t my game of choice. I used to be a huge fan of the Ganguly led team but I think our players are given way too much attention and importance than they deseerve!

  6. Wtf is wrong with Sky Sports??? Does anyone know why they arent showing the game? That really sucks, now i have to stream 🙁

    1. It’s why we shouldn’t trust Goal.com to do anything except report the final score of a match, and they might even screw that up.

      Those jackasses misinterpreted a piece in Sport. The piece in question, by Javier Miguel, is really an editorial about Henry getting left behind by the blistering starts by Messi and Ibrahimovic, and how if Ibrahimovic doesn’t start, that Henry might be an option at the point of the attack.

      The Sport piece mentions absolutely nothing about Henry whining. That’s just the Goal.com bit of pustulence, making shit up. I checked EMD as well. Nothing. It’s why that site irritates me so. “We don’t have news, so let’s make some shit up.”

  7. Damn, you guys kick it an Nevada Smith? That’s my spot! I perhaps meant to imply that that’s where I kick it too…

    1. don’t know if i ever kicked it @ nevada smiths but the best thing about living in boston when i was out there was that it was a 5 hour fengshui bus away from ny @ my homies out in crooklyn.

    2. Well I live in Brookly, which is a bit away from Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, what with me living in BK Heights and all. But yes, samizzle, I go to Nevada Smiths now and then, though not this weekend.

  8. As for your lineup. Maybe a bit too strong? Of course you know we have a tough lineup and I see you’ve accounted for that a bit, but I would change that midfield. If you want to “take the white gloves off” and put in Iniesta, I say give Yaya another week’s rest. Or play Keita again. Or play Keita instead of Xavi (who at some points in the season will desperately need rest…and we have a CL match midweek correct?). I don’t think a fully-charged midfield will be needed, especially if we will put Henry and Messi up front (didn’t Kevin say TH14 had a case of “the shits”? I guess he’s recovered).

    Also, it brings up an interesting question. Now I’m pretty sure Alves is younger (I won’t check any more than I won’t check about that CL game. I’m lazy!), but which of the two starting fullbacks is the most important to rest? Abi gives us more on defense, Alves gives us more on offense. Alves plays way, way more, this season and last. I suppose with Ibra out, having Alves is more important to allow Messi freedom in the middle, but at the end of last year Alves looked pretty smoked (and dare I say it, it might have been good that he was out of the CL final). Then we started to say, he’d played just about every game. I see that developing now, and it worries me just a bit.

    I agree to sit Pique out too…he’s going to be big for us and he might have a headache to get over.

  9. And it’s cool to see the game times “around el mundo.” Maybe you’re realizing just how massive this blog is! This might just be the premier Barcelona football blog en el mundo.

  10. maradona put out his list, he’ll add the local players later:

    Arqueros: Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar), Mariano Andújar (Catania).

    Defensores: Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Nico Pareja (Espanyol), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Emiliano Insúa (Liverpool) y Gabriel Heinze (Olympique de Marsella).

    Volantes: Jonás Gutiérrez (Newcastle), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Angel Di María (Benfica), Pablo Aimar (Benfica) y Lucho González (Olympique de Marsella).

    Delanteros: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Nápoli), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City), Diego Milito (Inter), Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid) y Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid).

    INSUA!!! and that guy called pipita have been called up 🙂

    1. lucho, lavezzi, milito y el pipita higuain all up in the centuria? about time that fuckface did something right.

  11. Wow. When you put it like that, you actually see how awesome Argentina could be. Just need Cambiasso back, and they’re good to go.

  12. “I’m picking Barcelona v Xerez, Barcelona v Tenerife, or Barcelona v. anyone over Mexico v United States.”

    Lol, I’m the other way around. Honestly, I’d rather watch my national team (which absolutely sucks) play any match over watching El Clasico. There, I said it. Barca is my only football club, but national team always comes first.

    1. haha. It’s almost an empty declaration on my part. I’ve never been able to watch my national team play, as the matches are never really televised. Heck, I could never even catch streams. But I follow them avidly the one match they play a year!

  13. I realized to day that Messi has scored 5 goals in 191 minutes. He has essentially played 2 of our 4 games and is the leading scorer in the league(he came on as a sub against Getafe and was subbed early against Racing). And who thinks Ronaldo should win the ballon d’or? oh, that was pepe, but we knew he was crazy before he said that.
    (Admit that you did the math and divided 5 by 2, multiplied by 38 and figured that Messi is on pace for 95 goals in la liga this season.)

    1. That’s probably too conservative. Keep in mind that he is improving! Maybe he will only score around 105, or 102 goals.

    2. well messi deserves the ballon d’or this year because he’s an overall good player, not because of the number of goals he scores because in that case, forlan would be in the running too aha

      but yes, those goals don’t include penalties either! 🙂 i just hope he continues to score in the clasicos hehe… nothing would make me happier

  14. Hello all, I’m a newbie poster here. I’ve been reading this blog for a while, all the way back to the Offside days, but this is my first time commenting. I really enjoy reading the blog entries and the comments. It’s by far the best Barcelona blog I’ve seen.

    And, well, I’ve been looking to become Barca member for years now, but haven’t gotten to it. Now I’m on the verge of doing so, but I’d like to know just 1 thing about being a soci before I become one. That ting is, do you have to pay a membership fee once or is it due yearly, like every January? And if so, is it expensive?

    Just like to say thank you in advance to anyone who replies, and Isiah and Kevin, you guys are brilliant. Love this blog, I hope I can comment here more often.

    1. It’s an annual membership fee of Eur150, billed around January. “Expensive” is relative. For me, the biggest benefit of being a soci is that I am supporting the club that I love so.

      As you know, we are unique in the world in that the members truly do own and help run the club.

      Another benefit, of course, is that you get access to match tickets two weeks (or more) before the general public. So this year, I am going to the Inter Champions League match, and El Clasico, in the same week. That’s priceless.

      An unfortunate after effect (though I have been letting them have it, via e-mail) is that N. American fans get fcbarcelonashopusa.com, to meet their needs. It is a pale, pale shadow of the main store, and doesn’t give the soci discount. So I just stock up on goodies during my annual visits to Barcelona.

      Finally, welcome, Shaun. You’ll find that we’re a fun bunch over here, and I would challenge any Web space, outside of the official site, that bleeds a deeper hue of Blaugrana.

    2. Thanks for the reply, Kevin.

      I know what you mean, regarding the North American store on the Barca website. I once ordered from there a summer ago, and didn’t get the same authentic products you can get on the European store.
      However, I found a site that sells the exact same products that the European store sells. It’s kitbag.com. At the US store, if you want an Iniesta kit, you only get “Iniesta” and not “A. Iniesta”, as it should be and the TV3 patch is not available. But on Kitbag, it is and you can get anything there that you might want from the European store, which I think is great because they (Kitbag) ship to the US.

      Hope that may help anyone for the future.

  15. The first game against Malaga defined our destiny last season. Of all the games we played last season (watched all of them), I remember the game against Malaga most vividly because of the way we adapted that night.

    Extreme conditions didn’t allow us to play our free flowing game that we had just started to get the hang of. The third goal was breathtaking. Eto’s pass to henry followed by his perfectly cushioned header for Xavi who finished superbly.. (all this without the ball touching the ground!!) Brilliance!

  16. Question.

    How is it possible that GolTV is showing the Bayern-Hamburg match live at 12:30 EST, yet claim that they will be showing the Barça-Malaga match live? Doesn’t every match get a 2 hr block? Something has to give.

  17. By the way, have you ever asked yourself why Jeffren Suarez is only referred to as Jeffren on both the Barca website and his jersey since the beginning? Maybe Barca is looking for Luis Suarez since quite a long time and they didn’t want to have the same name on the back of a jersey twice? 🙂
    So they wanted to avoid a situation of L. Suarez and J. Suarez… but I guess I’m just over-intellectualizing.

    1. I am not able to convince myself that Pep had been serious for Suarez during summer… Yeah the board did show some interest while they were still in search of our ‘9’ But later on, if Pep was really interested, the board could have used Henrique to try and get Suarez. Because Ajax were alleged to be interested in Henrique after having a look at his development at Bayer Leverkusen. They lost their captain in Vermaelen and were desperately in need of a defender. Considering the fact that the board forced Man City of all to consider selling their icon player just because Pep was interested, it wouldn’t have been so difficult to bring in Suarez… Anyway it’s all just speculation anyway

      Can some body explain why Yaya wasn’t played for last 2 matches? Is it because he picked up some knock or because he has shown some lack of form in the initial fixtures… During some match the commentator said Yaya showed a bit of complacency and he shouldn’t allow that to creep in the Barca system

    2. Good question about Yaya. I’m also starting to get worried… I haven’t read any news about an injury or something like that. So if somebody could enlighten us, I’d be pleased.

      Oh, and that’s a good point, Boat. I didn’t think of this option yet, but it makes sense. Even though Henrique could never have replaced Vermaelen, this guy is a diamant. And Henrique… well, we saw about him against us^^
      Nevertheless it could have cheapened the transfer sum for Suarez. So it seems to me the board doesn’t want him (yet).

    3. i think in spain or latin american countries, its common to put your first name on your shirt, or at least your first surname. think of xavi (hernandez), bojan, pedro and then there is always that weird thing that guti has done with his name on his shirt. haha “that GUTI HAS done with…”

  18. Ya I second that is there some kind of rift between YaYa and management. If he doesn’t start against malaga im worried for the space-time continuim

    1. I don’t think is a rift our anything just maybe he has finally started to fast for Ramadan cuz each Muslim has to fast at 1 point before/after the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr. So i speculate that Keita and Yaya have taken turns in when to fast.thats y we r seeing so much Keita and less Yaya.It might be vise versa soon.

  19. Not even that they said they wouldb be making up for missed days during ramadan and so they have like 7 or 8 to make up

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