Do You Trust Your Team? – Supercopa Second Leg Preview

Note: The first part of this was written by Isaiah, but due to unforeseen circumstances (read: excessive drunkenness and cop punching), Luke is having to finish it up

In the run up to the Superclassicopa’s first leg, I predicted a 3-1 loss for Barcelona. I don’t know that I was particularly wrong in predicting that given the game that took place, but it’s obvious that I didn’t trust the team enough. David Villa came through with an utterly amazing goal and Messi did what Messi does best: score. I’ve seen that Villa goal at least 7 times since the game ended and it thrills me to pieces every time. Audacity and talent. What a combo.

Even with a makeshift lineup: Mascherano and Abidal in defense together? Alexis Sánchez playing his first minutes for the team? Thiago, Keita, and Iniesta teaming up in midfield? Messi vomiting like some Exorcist remake? All of that happened and the team drew 2-2 against a firing-on-all-cylinders Real Madrid that nearly lost its head (and the game) with late tackles. For all of Teixera Vitienes’ absurd (no) calls and terrible inconsistency (and Marca gave him a 5 out of 10), Barça came out with a draw and 2 valuable goals.

Given Mourinho’s penchant for trying to nab a goal on the counter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Madrid batten down the hatches and try to ride out an early Barça surge, but in the Bernabeu they showed unprecedented attacking willingness, if also extreme profligacy in front of goal. I wouldn’t expect that to happen twice in a row.

Jedi mind powers

Luckily, we don’t have to expect it to happen again, but it still might. The good news first: I attribute most of the issues with Sunday’s first leg to Keita playing woefully out of position at the DM. Against another, less offensively powerful side, Keita might likely be serviceable in that position, but not against Madrid. Also at fault was the less than full strength back four, which will be bolstered (and was greatly bolstered on Sunday) by the return of Pique. This does nothing to diminish my point that Barcelona has a fully capable defense in reserve, like they showed on Sunday, by holding a rampant Madrid side to two goals, neither of which could have been stopped easily, it’s just that stronger options are now available.

Now the bad news for Wednesday: Barça has played exactly zero full strength games together since the end of May. Four of the starting eleven from Sunday had been on vacation for nearly a month (a well-deserved break mind you) before the game, having not practiced with the team fully. Two days is not going to solve this issue, and the addition of Fabregas, while positive, might only serve to complicate matters further. Additionally, the team is obviously not at its highest training levels yet. This will come with time and will reduce the tiredness that led to Messi vomiting and players losing steam in the end, but not by Wednesday. I attribute this to the problems of losing the ball more often than we fans are accustomed to seeing. issue is only solved by more training and more games, so two days is unlikely to work the magic either. Then again, I’ve seen Guardiola do a whole lot with less time and more troubles, so maybe I’m looking at this all backwards.

I can usually make at least a semi-tangible argument for either side when Barcelona plays a world class caliber team, though usually I predict the Fighting Peps to come out on top. However, this is truly a coin flip game. Barça starts with a crapshoot lineup, Madrid comes out firing and the game ended 2-2 when it could have easily gone either way, even in a route to Madrid. Does any of this hold as precedent for the second leg? I wish I knew.

Part of me believes Mou will bring Madrid out on the offensive again, eschewing the normal defense-first counter attacking for his Sunday approach, which made many a Barça supporter nervous. The other half believes he will sit the team back, allow them to poach, and try to play it like he has in past match-ups. I cannot say which would be better for the home team because after watching 5 minutes of the first leg I assumed the game would end 37-0 to Madrid, Barça looked that bad. And yet, here it sits, with Barcelona holding a distinct advantage in the form of 2 away goals and a draw.

What I can say is that Madrid will again by physical, mostly in the embodiment of Xabi Alonso, Carvalho, and our old friend Stampy Pepe. Mou’s Madrid teams are not shy about attempting to make a physical mark on the game and Pep’s Barcelona teams, either as a form of controlling the game or of intimidation. Though the game was light on this aspect for the first 60-75 (well, relatively light), the end of the game reminded us that there is a reason Pep rarely makes it through these games un-carded. Not that this has been statistically proven to have much of an impact on the final score.

The team news has been positive since Sunday with Pique, Busquets, and Fabregas all training normally, meaning that the squad is at full strength save for the immense talents of Afellay, Puyol, and Maxwell. This would usually lead a fan to conclude that Pep will trot out a lineup consisting of Valdes-Alves-Pique-Mascherano-Abidal-Busquets-Xaviniesta-Villa-Messi-Sanchez. But we love Pep for many reasons, and one of them is a great deal of lineup flexibility. My best guess at a starting 11 looks something like: Valdes-Alves-Pique-Abidal-Adriano-Mascherano-Xavi-Thiago-Iniesta-Messi-Villa. The question many are asking, whether Cesc will start, is, I believe, a nonstarter. I don’t doubt he could contribute, but I see it more as one of Pep’s patented late-in-the-game, screw you subs. One that has no bearing on the outcome, but is done for purely personal reasons, and it would be mildly humorous to see Cesc play 2 minutes and win silver, after 5 years without, no?

Prediction: Um, blind shot in the dark says 1-1, goals by Messi and Benzema. I’ve been going back and forth, so I played it safe. There will be scares on both sides, but I think a stalemate holds and Barça wins its first silverware of the new campaign. Incidentally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go 3-1 in the bad guys direction either, it’s really a toss up.

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. tutomate
    August 16, 2011

    I trust my team. We will win this.

  2. tutomate
    August 16, 2011

    One thing that I think will give EE trouble is the fouling they use to throw Barca out of rhythm. At the Camp Nou they will not be able to be foul as much or as hard as they were able to do over at the Bernabeu. The Camp Nou crowd will be on them for every foul perpetrated. I think it will be easier for the ref to punish them for their over exuberance. If we are winning by the 70th minute expect an EE player to be sent off even if it is just for Mad Cow to have an excuse.

  3. August 16, 2011

    In the first picture, I admit to first seeing a blurred Victor Valdes standing in the background like a boss.

    While I’m in total agreeance that we’re not close to fully-fit, it makes me slightly sick to think they could lift a trophy at Camp Nou, so I’m going with whatever score makes us win.

    Interesting that Pedro! hasn’t been mentioned as one of the players that didn’t play that much. (I don’t mean in this blog post, but around the web in general). Alexis has done very well to cause that, so Pedro will really be looking to fight for his place this season.

    I’m going for:

    Alves – Pique – Abidal – Adriano
    Thiago – sMasch – Iniesta
    Alexis – Messi – Villa

    Pique managed to gain some game time on Sunday, so I think he can start. Busi is lacking match-fitness, and while Xavi is doing better Thiago deserves to start this game even though he didn’t play that well. Then again, our main problem was that we didn’t have either Xavi or Busi, so I could see Xavi starting.

    Then, there is the matter of Keita. I’m not sure, I think Pep could play him at DM, but I don’t want him there. It’s also possible that Pep will start the exact same lineup as last game to pull a reverse-Mourinho.

    …And now, I’m unsure of the lineup above. This feels nice; it’s been a while since I had absolutely no idea what Pep will put out on the pitch (except for offense, but even then, Pedro could play).

    I agree on Fabregas being a total f- you, Sergi-Roberto-at-the-Bernabeu-esque sub, but I can also see him starting as weird as that is. He’s not match fit, but he has been training on his own for a while now…

    Looking forward to the match, most definitely.

    (As a PS, the SuperCopa isn’t selling well because for the first time, the board is charging for tickets (it used to be free for socios, methinks). 11,000 tickets are left, as reported by MD. That’s interesting. In the end, I think they’ll be sold.

    On that note, Ryan’s going to the game. We should all think of what board he should take. I thought of “EE/RM, You have just been Hlebbed” (You don’t have to put his face on it 😀 )).

    • Calvin
      August 16, 2011

      The Super Cup tickets used to be included in the season ticket package, but for the first year they are not included. That’s why it’s not selling that well.

      It’s a small money making tactic from the board, but it doesn’t seem to be going over very well.

      • August 17, 2011

        Thanks for the ticket info didn’t know 🙂 I suppose the club is using this high profile game and is trying to compensate for having some of the lowest season tickets in La liga. Sport says they expect around 6mil from tickets for this game. Not bad for clubs and fans especialy if you consider how difficult it is to see a Barca-RM live if you don’t have a season ticket!

      • nzm
        August 17, 2011

        Rosell is making pleas in the press for the fans to come to the stadium to support the team.

        • nzm
          August 17, 2011

          Maybe playing the game at 11pm is a bit too late for most – especially with young families – even by Spain standards!

    • August 17, 2011

      Pep has used the Revenge 11 a couple of times before i think so its not a mou tactic. One was against Numancia because we lost against them in first league game of Pep as coach, the other I don’t remember. But this time we drew so no reason for revenge…plus I can’t stand *sweats* to watch Keita as DM again no matter how much I like him as player and I really really like him as a player!

    • Ryan
      August 17, 2011

      There’s still time for a sign! I’ve already got my Abidal jersey freshly made (they’re really fast at sticking on the letters and numbers!) and got my chorizo sandwich for halftime. Let’s do this!

  4. Anonymous_69
    August 16, 2011

    Pedro impressed me after coming on against Madrid. Much better than his preseason games. If controlling the midfield and keeping possession was our problem in the first leg, and if Xavi is NOT available, I’m going for this lineup:

    Alves – Pique – Abidal – Adriano
    Messi – Mascherano – Iniesta
    Pedro – Villa – Sanchez

  5. Extreme barca fan
    August 16, 2011

    For this match and only this match, i want us to play badly and win, it will make EE players even more bitter (yes i hate them all, no exceptions).
    I also want one of original DMs to play in position, we will be much better than the 1st leg.
    Thats all.

  6. Jim
    August 16, 2011

    Not too fussy about the result unless we field a full strength team and get beaten. However, a win would help us to sow some more doubt in their minds. I loved it when the last game changed as soon as Xavi and Pique came on – that’ll not be lost on them.

    I would like to see a better display from the defence as a whole. The last game was shocking even allowing for early season rust although I thought Alves was better than many have given him credit for. Although Pique helps us by just being on the pitch he needs to step up in terms of leading the back line.To me he has the best positional sense and is the natural leader there in the absence of Puyol.

    No Cesc, please. Let’s get him fit and some easy minutes before pitching him into a difficult game. However, can Pep resist?

    I’d also like to see Pedro start instead of Alexis. He needs to know he’s still valued if we’re to keep his confidence up.

    It’s going to be really interesting if Madrid try to keep up this pressing game against us this season. It is probably their best chance of coping with us but it’s so high risk committing numbers to stifle Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Sanchez. They could end up losing a lot of goals once we hit top form and move the ball quicker.

  7. blitzen
    August 16, 2011

    From Graham Hunter’s ESPN article:

    Rosell, an amateur footballer of note who played with Pep Guardiola’s younger brother, Pere, is an athletic-looking fella. And with all the strength he owns, he bear-hugged Iniesta, lifting the little World Cup winner off his feet with an unrestrained, very boyish smile of gratitude and glee splashed all over his face.

    Made me dislike Rosell just a little bit less. 🙂

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 16, 2011

      aahh, who thought RoSELL could be that cute? 😀

      Just look at the facts: Guardiola’s first competitive XI of the season lined up without five of its World Cup winners; Alexis Sanchez made his debut; Javier Mascherano played out of position at center back again; Barca went down 1-0, and avoided being down 2-0 only because of what was probably the best save of Victor Valdes’ life; Lionel Messi vomited on the pitch because of stomach problems; and Pep’s players had the oxygen choked out of them in the first 30 minutes by the best Real Madrid pressing I can remember.

      scary, isn’t it? I really thought it will end with 5-0 or something. I don’t know how on earth EE didn’t win that game, but I’ll take it. can’t remember when was the last time I felt so so happy with a draw against EE. 😛

      But Pepe is behaving against Barcelona like the big kid who isn’t good enough to get a game with his own age group at school recess, so he drops into the little kids’ match only to find that they are more skillful than him, too. As a result, he runs around barging them over and shouting away their claims for a foul.

      Pepe is a @%&(^#?:!

      Because Alves was being singled out for treatment by Pepe again, large parts of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd repeatedly made monkey noises when the Brazilian approached the ball. This is racism, pure and simple.


  8. August 16, 2011

    The game’s at 5pmEST by the way. The latest it’s been in a long time.

    • blitzen
      August 16, 2011

      So I will get home in time for the second half!!!! Awesome!!!

    • nzm
      August 17, 2011

      Yeah – 11pm Barca time. I don’t know whether it’s because of TV rights or because they want to play when it’s colled down, but it’s pretty late, all the same.

    • nzm
      August 17, 2011

      Well – the reason for the late start was that there were Champions League qualifying games tonight which didn’t finish until 10:30pm.

  9. Whatever
    August 16, 2011

    In Pep I trust.

    I’d go with, given that Busquets is injured:

    Alves – Pique – Abidal – Adriano
    Xavi – Mascherano – Iniesta
    Pedro – Messi – Villa

    Throw in Alexis in the second half, and maybe Thiago later if we’re up a couple.

  10. Anonymous_69
    August 16, 2011

    Do we know for sure if Busquets is out? I would feel most comfortable with Mascherano beside Pique at CB, and Busquets in DM. For all of Adriano’s skills in defending against tricky wingers (he almost never gets beaten on the 1v1 situations), he is lousy at defending crosses. Mascherano isn’t tall, but he can win a few headers, and his leadership overall makes Pique play much better, almost like he is playing with Puyol again. Also, if keeping possession in deep positions, and making the transitions from defense was the biggest problem, then Mascherano won’t be THAT much of an upgrade over Keita. Busquets will. And we already know for sure that Busquets can handle Ozil.

    • August 16, 2011

      Busi is back in training, so no, he’s not for sure out. Squad list hasn’t been announced to my knowledge.

  11. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 16, 2011

    my wish list for Starting XI is :

    Alves – Pique – Mascherano/Abidal – Abidal/Adriano
    Xavi – Busquets/Mascherano – Iniesta
    Pedro – Messi – Villa

    Alexis come in the second half to replace Pedro/Villa.

    and let’s hope we could end this game before 85th minute (maybe with 1-0 or 2-0?),
    so Pep can sub Fabregas in as a screw-and-f-you-EE-here’s-my-lost-son-making-his-debut-at-Camp-Nou-wearing-my-number-4-jersey-and-he’ll-lift-his-first-trophy-with-Barcelona-after-six-years-without-trophy-at-Arsenal kind of sub. 😀

  12. Dani_el
    August 16, 2011

    I’ve seen again the game, the Euler’s review has made me to it, he’s so right that though Messi wasnt fisically fit (he didnt track back Alonso on the Madrid equalizer) he seems to read the game better than the rest.
    I think the line up will be the same for the champions final :
    Alves – Pique – Masquerano – Abidal
    Xavi – Busquets – Iniesta
    Pedro – Messi – Villa

    I guess we will be seing Sanchez for Villa as a game changer, and if we’re doing fine, maybe Keita or Cesc for Busi or Xavi, and Maybe Adriano for Masquerano.

    I know it’s preseason, and this is the cup that interests me the least, but if we do this, well…it a hell of a moral boost for the team.

    Visca el Barça!

  13. August 16, 2011

    Pepe, in particular, represents a growing ethos among Mourinho’s players that they can foul Barcelona’s players, then fake indignation that their victim is somehow exaggerating or acting. […] Adopting a physical approach is fine. There are boundaries, and the referee is there to enforce them. Ballet dancing this ain’t. But to play right up to, and beyond, the rules of physicality and fail to accept the consequences of your actions is demeaning, juvenile and dispiriting to witness.

    Totally agree.

    A video of RM’s worst fouls in the last match:

    How anyone can watch the actions and reactions of those players and still believe that there is no top-down intention to deceive the ref, physically intimidate the opponent, and even outright injure Barcelona’s players is beyond me.

    Woops, accidentally kicked little Pedro in the sternum!

    • Dani_el
      August 16, 2011

      I absolutly agree, I’ve seen the Tv3 retransmission of the game, and it’s absolutly appaling how they don’t say anything about EE’s fouls, and they justify their offenses, and they agree with every decision against us.

    • Cam
      August 16, 2011

      The telling thing for me is that players like Callejon and Coentrao, who weren’t part of the bad blood from last year’s run of Classicos, came into this match and immediately started pulling the same act. Totally a premeditated strategy.

    • August 16, 2011

      There were also the off the ball incidents with Messi and Alexis. Sigh.

      It genuinely annoys me that Ramos, Pepe, Alonso, and Carvalho can’t defend without fouling. And Marcelo is so dirty. Don’t get me started on Arbeloa…

    • just listenin
      August 17, 2011

      This has gone well beyond the pale of fouling and aggressive challenge off the ball that they have perfected over the years – Journalists who cover the Liga are starting to talk about it. I think at this point it is naive not to think that there is a systematic effort to specifically with respect to Barca;
      1) Claim the refs are against them to get limited intervention
      2) Claim Barca players are divers (classic pot calling the kettle black strategy, accuse your opponents of your worst faults – see politics since the beginning of time…) to further “loosen” the environment
      3) Act as if 1 and 2 are true, use the environment to inflict injury that compromises the opponent, when someone gets hurt the stage is set to say, it was an “honest” challenge, these things happen…
      This is like stuff out of the Art of War.

      I’m going on record to say if the refs don’t start pulling the cards appropriately in these matches, with these guys – we are going to have a resulting serious injury – they are playing for that, it is the only way they can win (the war, not the battle), and the stakes are very high.

      – several minutes into the match Sunday, I tweeted – “If we get out of this cage of rabid dogs without injury while we are practicing, it’s a win. #playthebteamsavetheseason”

      This has gone too far in my opinion – I was watching the match and every time we had the ball in a crowd, or they were closing from behind on us, we were yelling pass the ball! pass the ball! – it was nervewracking, and obvious what the intent was. Especially watchout for Dani and Busi (no one would question, with the concerted effort to paint them as divers). Leo and Andres, also look particularly targeted in my opinion.

  14. Blau-Grenade
    August 16, 2011

    Ill go with the lineup of
    Alves sMash Pique Abidal
    Xavi Fab Iniesta
    Alexi Messi Villa

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 16, 2011

      Fab as the DM? really? 😛

      two reasons I don’t wanna see Fab as a starter :
      1. he hasn’t played any game since what, late April or early May?
      2. Pepe, Ramos, Arbeloa

      • Blau-Grenade
        August 17, 2011

        I picked this from the official Barca website regarding Cesc. I think he can play holding midfielder.

        Complete Midfielder

        Cesc’s versatility hasn’t gone unnoticed by Josep Guardiola. Fabregas can play in every midfield position. He can play as defensive centre mid, left or right midfield pivot, or even just behind the striker. At Arsenal he’s shown that he can perform extremely well in all these positions, and that could be seen in the 2009/2010 season, when he scored 15 goals and had 15 assists. His vision of the game and getting into the box are never in question.

  15. culegirl3
    August 16, 2011

    My preferred starting line up:
    Alves -Pique- Mascherano- Abidal
    Xavi -Busquets- Iniesta
    Sanchez- Messi- Villa

    Don’t care about much else as long as the following happens:

    1) We win this inferior trophy thus leaving EE without bragging rights

    2) Someone makes Ramos, Carvalho, Pepe, Arbeloa, Alonso, and Marcelo eat s**t and chase shadows

    3) Cristiana being stuck in triangle of death moments leading to lots of PMS/hissy fits(I know its sort of impossible given that the team lacks preparation and fitness but a girl can dream!)

    4) No one gets a red card so ¿Por que? doesn’t have something to bitch about even though his trusty minion Karanka will come out and it’ll be the same old “some things never change” song and dance from last year.

    5) Karma gets Khedira in the ass for what he did to King Eric


      • culegirl3
        August 16, 2011

        I agree 100% with your list!

        I’d still like to see pain and suffering inflicted on EE though 😉

  16. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 16, 2011

    watching the 1st leg again, no one can summarize it as perfect as Pep :

    “My player’s smart heads and generosity of hard work covered up for what their legs still weren’t quite ready for.”

  17. August 16, 2011

    I believe that Madrid (Mourinho) is going to come and kick shins again because of I know Pep and the boys, they will come to do a few hundred passes and make sure Ozil is the one huffin’ and puffin’ instead of Messi, so Marcelo and Pepe will be sent to break some knees. Mourinho will have a lot of to “say” about refs (cry and nag about to help Madridistas sleep at night), but I also see a 1-1 and a happy ending. I do trust my team.

  18. Srini
    August 16, 2011

    My wishlist for the team is to simply treat this as an all important match and play to their potential. And for Guardiola to play his fittest squad and hopefully that is also his best squad.

    That means Xavi and Pique must start. I do not know about Busquets’ fitness levels, but if he is close to 100%, he has to play as well.

    So my (wishful) lineup reads – (if Busquets is unfit)

    Alves, Pique, Abidal, Adriano
    Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta
    Sanchez, Messi, Villa
    subs – Pedro for Villa at close to three quarters of game and Fabregas for Xavi at around the same period.

    If Busquets is fit, replace Abidal at CB with Masch and Adriano with Abidal at LB and Busi takes the DM position.

    I predict a red card for either of EE’s dirty duo – Pepe/Marcelo. EE’s thuggery will not go un”red”arded.

    And a 2-0 win for us. Messi to score one and Fab to score a dream goal on Barca first team debut late in the second half.

  19. August 16, 2011

    To me, it’s over. We will win the cup tomorrow, because the worst moments are gone. Playing first game of the season, not 100%, away in the worst stadium, against a Madrid side that played excellently, nothing can really go any worse than that.

    Yet, we pulled off a 2-2 draw. Things can only go better in our Camp.

    I also think Madrid flashed their wild card wayyyy too early. They will do what they did because frankly speaking, that’s their only chance of winning. But everyone on our team had already experienced their possibly best game and know what to expect. Pep also saw it and know what to do. So, they massively lowered their chance of winning by revealing their best weapon without killing us off. But of course, that’s only when I believe that was their very best display. But in Camp Nou, there is only one team with a real advantage.

    That’s us. Visca Barca.

    • barca96
      August 16, 2011

      Mourinho surely knows that last Sunday was his best chance to redeem last season’s humiliation but he still couldn’t pull it off. So I think their morale went down a bit.

  20. August 16, 2011

    Predicted lineup:

    Alves Pique Abidal Adriano
    Xavi Iniesta
    Alexis Messi Villa

    Sub: Cesc – 89′, (1 min to win his first silverware, and Camp Nou goes wild, :P) Keita, Pedro.

  21. barca96
    August 16, 2011

    I’m happy that you guys brought the dirty tactics by Madrid up because after watching the 1st half, I noticed that they just continued where they left off. SO I took some notes.

    47.05min. – Alexis pulled away from Marcelon. Alonso flies in with a wild lunge knee-high. Now, Pedro got booked for a similar offense last season.

    48.39min. – Alexis won the ball cleanly from Pepe in their box and Pepe tripped him and won a foul instead.

    The trip by VV is for me to equal it so the fould by Marcelon on Pedro should’ve been awarded!

    69.02min – Callejon tried to step on Iniesta but Iniesta pulled his leg away in time. I repeated a dozen times to make sure of his intentions.
    Before that a tackle from the back.
    That was the 2nd tackle on Iniesta btw, both from the back.

    70.26min. – Callejon tackled Iniesta from the back, pulled his jersey and Iniesta went down and if it wasn’t enough, he took another swipe at Iniesta’s left knee long after the foul has been called. Iniesta reacted.
    Later on Iniesta apologized to Callejon btw when it is supposed to be the other way around.
    1) Callejon is the one who played dirty.
    2) Iniesta is the elder player, the victim and a legend.

    73.05min. – Pepe foul on Pedro. Even ramos backed off. What a dirty bastard. He saw Pedro was losing balance and his head was low, still he chose such an action. Imagine if Pedro didn’t get his head back up in time. Pepe’s foot could’ve hit Pedro’s head. But it didn’t and hit Pedro’s thighs instead which still is a dangerous play.

    76.57min. – Messi hacked, pulled by Carvalho. Messi got away. Alonso came in and had eyes only for Messi’s leg. I repeated it many times. Look at Alonso’s body the way he came in for the tackle. It was only meant to take out Messi. Alonso didn’t even apologize to Messi afterwards.

    90min. – I think Pepe did or said something provocative to Keita when they were in the wall while waiting for Messi’s FK.

    Is there nothing that the Spanish FA can do about this? What has to happen before a serious injury happens?

    Another way to solve this is to use video technology. It will eradicate all this dirty play, wrong calls.

    • nzm
      August 17, 2011

      Sadly, when you watch a lot of La Liga every week as we do in Spain, this is par for what RM gets away with in almost every game that they play. The amount of off-the-ball incidents alone should get at least 3 players sent off in every match. They have honed this skill so that most of it happens behind the ref’s and linesman’s backs. What is required is an off-the-ball incident umpire, who only watches the movements of non-ball carriers, and who can stop play to hand out the punishments.

  22. Barcaleya
    August 16, 2011

    It’s amazing how Busi is so important to our system of play and really has no equivalent replacement.

    The only person I can think of who can do what Busi does as well is Xavi. In terms of vision and distribution.

    And the closest person who can do what Xavi does for us (eventually) is actually Busi. Not Thiago. or Cesc. But Cest is the most immediate and closest equivalent/replacement for Xavi in the meantime. While Thiago is more Iniesta than Xavi.

    In any case, we survived the first leg through moments of individual brilliance and not through a proper, functioning team/system. So if we can’t have our best starting XI, we should at least have one of either Pique or Puyol playing and one of either Busquets or Xavi. Any one of those in defense and midfield lends so much more stability.

    So I’ll definitely put Busi in if he’s fit but if not, my starting XI will be:

    Alves Pique Abidal Adriano
    Xavi Iniesta

    Depending on how the game is developing…Cesc could come in. As DM. Adriano out. Masch will take over CB from Abi, and Abi goes to LB. Then Sanchez can sub for Pedro. And then Thiago for Xavi when we have all but secured the Cup.

    Just fun to think of all that Pep can do with his versatile players….

    • Barcaleya
      August 17, 2011

      Oh – and I meant Busquets as DM. That he is exceptional and without peer in his position as DM.

      Not as CB.

      • mom4
        August 17, 2011

        Did we ever think we’d be saying these things about Busi? Astonishing DM! I don’t know if he’ll ever get the credit he deserves but maybe that’s to our advantage. He’s our secret weapon—keep it secret, keep it safe (LotR movie quote just for you, Ek 🙂 )

  23. paxtonpale
    August 17, 2011

    I was very surprised with the final result as Real Madrid really should have won it. I still can’t see how S.Ramos doesn’t know how to play against David Villa. Everyone knows that he cuts in right and I thought that he would easily taken the ball before he shot it. It was an amazing shot that Casillas would have never got even he grew a few feet taller. Messi did his usual and created something out of nothing. My prediction for the second leg is that it will be a draw or a win for Barcelona simply because of home advantage and Barcelona are probably more prepared than last game.
    My prediction of the formattion for Barcelona would be:
    I don’t think A.Sanchez will start because of his poor control in the first leg. Busquest I don’t think will start because of his injury and besides Mascherano will be good as he is quick and will useful if Barca are in trouble on a counter attack. Everyone knows that Cesc will start on the bench and will come and play at least 10-20 minutes of play time as it is the Camp Nou and everybody is expecting him to start.
    The prediction for the score line 2-1 Barca’s way. Messi and Villa will score. For Madrid Benezma will score.
    Fabregas, Sanchez and Busquests will come on for Villa,Thiago and Mascherano. Good luck Barcelona!

  24. mom4
    August 17, 2011

    The game is on here at 5:00 EST (GOLTV). That means it’s 11:00 PM in Catalunya. I know that Spanish bedtimes work differently than mine but dang that’s late. It also means that I will be DVRing it and watching it later 🙁 because of child #4’s soccer practice. I hate it when I’m watching and the game is already decided.

    • mom4
      August 17, 2011

      Oh and,

      Alves, Pique, Abi, Adriano
      Xaviniesta, Mascherano
      Subs- Busi, Alexis, Cesc(late)
      and the forces of hell EE shall not prevail against us!

      2-1 Messi, P!!

  25. StrongWaterPressure
    August 17, 2011

    “and if Barcelona manages to contain or beat Real Madrid this time and then seal a Supercopa win next week at the Camp Nou, the Madridistas might as well pack up, go home and start getting into Formula One racing or basketball instead.” Graham Hunter on ESPN. We’re halfway there. A sickly white racing car would look quite spiffing I think.

  26. August 17, 2011

    Talks between La Liga and the players union broke down last night, and will resume on Friday for a last chance negotiation to avert the strike. La Liga officials claim the players have become too entrenched in their position, and they don’t see a meeting point between each other’s demands.

    Right now it looks very likely that these weekend’s matches will not be played. They haven’t even started selling the betting quinielas, apparently.

    • blitzen
      August 17, 2011

      “Entrenched in their position”? You mean, demanding to actually be paid the money they are owed? And to be supported by the league they play for?

      How dare they!

    • August 17, 2011


      Still, no more than he deserves for his behavior last season. Whenever I rewatch that match, I can’t help but feel really disappointed in Wenger, knowing that when Guardiola goes over to shake his hand after the Camp Nou match, Wenger tells Pep to “thank the ref for this”.

      *shaking my head”

  27. Gogah
    August 17, 2011

    lets just belt them 3-0.
    that will probably prompt perez to sign another 40M striker.

  28. Josep
    August 17, 2011

    So it’s a general consensus that Keita at DM is no bueno? I waded thru the last few posts and everyone seems to agree on that. I think I remember reading one who said he was a boss but can’t remember who..

    I know Madrid foul hard, and late, but there’s no use complaining about it. I read so many whiny posts, yeah its petulant but its their tactic. If the refs don’t do anything about it there’s nothing we can. It won’t happen in the Camp and Mou will have another por que tarjeta la roja moment. Eff that dude.

    I miss that arsenal troll, canyoubelievebarcabbbbb or whatever. come back! we can discuss anything you wishhhhhhhhhh

    Away goals count right? I think Mou will Pepe-DM it up this game. Ozil is too gassed to go 90 after only ..4? days. JDS and Montoya trained with the first team today, btw..

    • August 17, 2011

      Not in last game. Keita did well at DM for us when we badly needed defense, but that’s when everyone’s passing and moving engine was in the top gear, and that his creative contribution was minimized due to that.

      The away leg made Keita look horrible at DM, but the responsibility is not solely his, as the rest of the team was bad.

      But many will agree that Keita’s best position for us is not DM.

      • Josep
        August 17, 2011

        I think all pre-season he’s looked miserable as our DM. It could be for the time being as the pass and move just isn’t there for the time being, but I’d much rather see him at CB than DM even

  29. hammeronmessi
    August 17, 2011

    whats the indian timing of the match?

    is it 3 am o 4 am?

      • hammeronmessi
        August 17, 2011

        but at that time arent they gonna show the cl play off game?

        • say2
          August 17, 2011

          yo right…there’s no telecast of the match on ten action

  30. August 17, 2011

    Alright, some ideas Ryan, via Twitter:

    – “You have just been Hlebbed”

    – “¿Por que?”

    – “Chut de ball, Dani” or “The ball to me”

    – A plain advertisement (i.e. go to BFB!) or “Peanuts!”

    – “MOC MOC”

    • blitzen
      August 17, 2011

      I have it! It’s perfect!

      “Complot UEFACEF”


    • Ryan
      August 17, 2011

      I love ’em! I might go with Chut de ball and a BFB shout out. 🙂

    • Whatever
      August 17, 2011

      Somebody remind me, please… Where have I heard “Chut de ball to me”? I know I heard that somewhere before, but can’t remember where.

  31. hammeronmessi
    August 17, 2011

    so no watching the game in india?

    so disappointing.

    The Spanish player’s association clarifies that the players strike from Fri 19 to Mon 22 and from Fri 26 to Mon 29 August. During those periods, no official or friendly games can be played, nor can the players train.For Barcelona this means the club couldn’t play the Gamper game against Napoli on 22 Aug and the European Super Cup against Porto on 26 Aug.via BARCASTUFF.

    so barcas fist game will be villareal after this classico

    • Helge
      August 17, 2011

      I can hardly believe that the UEFA SuperCup will be postponed… (and I don’t want it to be postponed, it would be nice though to play the SuperCup without a league match the coming weekend)

      The Gamper trophy is a stupid, surplus trophy anyway (we would have played it less than 22h after our league match in Málaga!

    • Neel
      August 18, 2011

      I hope you guys caught the match in India, because I surely did, I told you the time and channel guys….

  32. Helge
    August 17, 2011

    This guy, called labomba, said something in the comments from that I want to share with you, because it has some – or even a lot – truth in it:

    I’m not adding to tactical observations as it’s all been so well said, nor am I going to fuel the aunties balls argument except to say we’ve had to prepare for the mighty Barca with a bunch of Chinese cardboard cutouts
    My question is the physical and psychological impact.
    Barca are in a win win situ psychologically – if they win they did it with a half practised unfit team, if they lose well they were half fit and unpracticed.
    Madrid however have obviously prioritised this cup as means to gaining a psychological advantage, which now looks to be out of their reach. ( I know Andrés is optimistic but he’s Andrés) How will this affect the team for the upcoming challenges?
    And on the physical, even with our long squad, will going all out now have a detrimental effect when it comes to the business end of the season??
    Worrying no???

    I’m very excited, winning the SuperCopa would be sooo sweet because it could indeed have a destructive psychological effect on them 😀

    • Whatever
      August 17, 2011

      Indeed. If we go out with Valdes – Alves Pique Abidal Adriano – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa we will definitely win. But… our preseason was very weak, while Madrid’s was extremely good, so their players are significantly more prepared phisically.

      Anyhow, we’ll see in a few hours how it goes. 🙂

      • Helge
        August 17, 2011

        I’m not sure if we will definitely win with that line-up (or Sanchez – I will always call him Sanchez, because the name Alexis remembers me of an at best average player from Valencia^^ -instead of Pedro).
        Pep said in his recent press conference that Real Madrid is right now stronger than us, and three days are not enough time to catch up with their fitness.

        It was not only due to Valdes’ brilliance that we tied the first leg, Madrid’s incapability of finishing their chances properly also played an important role. For instance, the header of Benz in the 9th min or at the end of the match, there is always the possibility to head such a ball in an unstoppable way. Benz gave Valdes the chance to save it (albeit most keepers would not have done so) and Valdes seized it. At the end of the match, Benz just couldn’t hit the empty target. CR didn’t hit his volley kick right etc.
        If Real creates once again so many chances, they will convert more of them and thus win.

        • Helge
          August 17, 2011

          ok, the Alexis I was talking about is actually from Sevilla (doesn’t make him any better).

        • Whatever
          August 17, 2011

          Madrid won’t get to have as many chances as in the last game if Busquets and Xavi are around. They will own the ball.

    • Josep
      August 17, 2011

      haha Andres is Andres.

      I can’t stand that prick.

        • Josep
          August 17, 2011

          hahahaha hardly. no one here, a mod or poster, is as ridiculous as he. he gives your site a bad name. well, I mean everyone does, then you come here all two-faced and act like the nicest guy. you’re not as diplomatic as you seem.

          besides most of your posters seem to love andres. if we even had ONE person here that was that ridiculous the level-headed ones would shun him. it’s happened and will.

          so get that shit out of here

        • The__K__Man
          August 17, 2011

          There may be a lot of bias here Bassam (obviously as this is a Barça site) but I haven’t seen much name calling as I’ve seen from him even with fellow madridistas.

        • Nonsensical, illogical post tearing down strawmen arguments, laced with profanity and borderline homophobia using very poor orthography and grammar

  33. August 17, 2011

    Win-win situation for us? Not quite, because if we lose, we will lose one big piece of silver. That will give them momentum. But we will do better than we did 3 days ago, because we have every reason to.

    The not so special one finally got inspired by what many coaches had already done to us, and again, finally, adopted the right tactic to play us. It was kind of good that they thought they were tasting a little bit of “success” by having more of the ball, because of how they all got so cocky about it and brag about how they could win. Humility is not their best suit, and by being overconfident, they are dead meat. Especially tonight, in our house, only one team will play football.

    One of the many ways to deal with their pressing is to play Pique behind Busquets. I know his long ball is not so famous here, but to me his long ball is one of his best skills when we have possession, because when they know our CB can play it long, they won’t go all the way out to press, because once the ball landed on the feet of Xavi, Iniesta or Messi, they will be in the most vulnerable situation.

    They will still press us like there is no tomorrow. But Busquets has the knack of playing calmly and safely, which, makes things a lot, a lot easier. His overseeing ability, smart one-twos or short passes are more than remarkable.

    Xavi-Iniesta-Messi trio is still a mystery that no opponent can find a solution. It’s hard to see us lose if our players give their 100% and find space to run.

    *hope Busquets will start !

  34. August 17, 2011

    Playing at Camp Nou tonight isn’t necessarily going to be nearly the same factor it usually is.

    The difference between the fitness of the two squads right now is very large.

    It seems very clear that Mou Mou made it an express goal to win the Super Copa. He trained the team with that in mind.

    Pep on the other hand didn’t at all. The team had such a scattered preseason and he wanted to give the players as much time off as possible.

    And Barca can’t simply gain equivalent fitness in a three days.

    In fact – their players may really struggle to come back and play another difficult match in three days time.

    Madrid also has the much deeper team so we may very well see them start squad rotating tonight.

    It’s going to be very difficult.

    The fundamental problem last game was that Barca didn’t press and they didn’t execute off the ball movement.

    Both of those things are the result of fitness.

    If they win tonight it’ll be largely dependent on their experience as champions and their ability to grind out results.

    • mei
      August 17, 2011

      I think you are discounting camp nou’s influence.
      It will both give a huge boost to the players , and intimidate the visitors.
      And these are without counting the effect it will have on the referee.

      • blitzen
        August 17, 2011

        @@ !!!

        Are you suggesting that referees can be influenced?

        • mei
          August 17, 2011

          Its not like that , though you can view it as such.
          Lets put it like this : on Saturday some decisions werent called because of the effect of burnabeou.

      • August 17, 2011

        I’m not discounting the effect of camp nou. They will have a much easier time tonight than they did on Sunday. However, my point is that the advantage of playing at home will be less than it usually is do to fitness.

        Playing at home will not improve the squad’s fitness.

        And the difference between the two teams on Sunday was their respective form and fitness.

        So it’s an open question to me how the psychological lift of playing at home will balance the issues of fitness.

        Usually playing at home one can be very confident. Tonight – it’s just less than it usually is.

        Barca weren’t close to what they usually are on Sunday. They can’t just close the fitness gap in 3 days. Madrid outplayed them by considerably on Sunday.

        So we’ll see. I think Barca will win – but it’s going to be a brutal match.

        • mei
          August 17, 2011

          I agree about the player’s fitness.
          However having almost four days of training is twice as much comparing to the ones they had together for the first leg.
          Fitness will be somewhat better , and tactical plan will be easier to explain.

          We will have some players back – crucial to us like xavi , pique and busquets.

          We played one competitive game , thats one point closer to match fitness I guess.

          Plus we will have a wildcard in the name of Fabregas.

    • Ryan
      August 17, 2011

      I didn’t see much rotation from Mou last year, he even played Casillas throughout the Copa!

    • Dani_el
      August 17, 2011

      Great article! I think there are endless possibilities when you have Pep as a coach, and the 4 best midfielders of the world on the squad. I think Pedro being a workhorse could probably make it on the left for a 2-3-3-2 line up. I also believe that Cesc will come close to Xavi’s role with Pep as a teacher, but It is also on my mind that being the assister that he is, Messi would be great in that role in few years time, when he doesnt have the pace to be upfront, will that time ever come?
      I’ve always thought that an older Messi would become Xaviesque in nature, let’s not forget that Xavi reached his peak at 28. It certainly will be interesting to watch Barça this season, I really really hope that Pep renews his contract.

      • August 17, 2011

        I agree completely on Messi and his trajectory. He’s going to continue to evolve, though for the time being he’s fine where he is (obviously). But in a few years, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him be a full time attacking midfielder. Frankly, I think for country, that’s his best position right now anyway.

  35. Vj
    August 17, 2011

    Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Mascherano Pique Abidal – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa #fcblive

    via @barcastuff

  36. Whatever
    August 17, 2011

    Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Mascherano Pique Abidal – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa


  37. Calvin
    August 17, 2011

    Liveblog is up. Give me a few minutes to work out my kinks, I’m a little rusty.

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