Copa Preview: CE L’Hospitalet – FC Barcelona, Wednesday 4pm, GolTV(HD)
There are two stories. One is of a 13-year old Christian martyr during the persecution of Christians in the reign of emperor Diocletian in the year 303. The other is of a talking badger that meets his destiny while fighting a fox for a boat. Let’s be honest here, the second one is way more interesting, so we’re going to say that it’s that version that led to the founding of CE L’Hospitalet when 3 teams (UD Hospitalet, CD Santa Eulalia, and CF Hércules) were combined into one. That was the same year that the Camp Nou was built.*
So, after the badgers and the Roman demigod came together to form a team, they realized they should probably include the area where their stadium was located rather than themselves. So they did. And they made it to the Segunda in the early 60s, but were relegated in 1966 and have yet to really return from the depths. They were last in the Tercera in 2009-10. I guess they’re not honey badgers or they’d be in Primera.
What they do have, however, is their secret weapon: David Prats. He’s one of Xavi’s best friends from their time together in La Masia, but now Prats is playing forward for L’Hospi and could finally find himself on the same professional field as his much more illustrious friend. It’s very likely to happen since Thiago is gone to U-21 duty alongside Isaac Cuenca and Adriano and Alves are off to Brazil for their World Cup qualifiers.
This L’Hospitalet blog thinks the following squad will be fielded: Moragón, Peque, Moussa, Manel Viale, Lucas Viale, Rubén García, Marc Pedraza, Cirio, Corominas, Pitu, David Prats.
And don’t take them lightly. They may be in Segunda B (Group 3) but they’re in 2nd with 25 points, just 2 below the leaders, Atletic Balears, and are coming off a 3-2 victory this past weekend against Sant Andreu. Those 2 goals account for a larger percentage of their 9 total allowed in 12 matches. That’s pretty stern defending. And, as the official site admonishes, you should remember Figueres, Novelda, and Gramenet. All of them were Segunda B sides at the time and all of them eliminated Barça from the cup within the last decade (and Gramenet almost did it twice in a row). Yes, they were in one-offs, but starting off with a loss can lead to bad endings, as Real Madrid can probably tell us, even with two legs.
At least travel fatigue won’t be a factor since the Estadi La Feixa Llarga is right around 5 miles from the Camp Nou via the circuitous route. The thing that will be a factor is international break taking a chunk of the squad away from Guardiola.
So who does Barça have available to respond to this local threat?
All the Spanish players plus Keita and Abidal are available, but Messi, Mascherano, Alves, Adriano, Alexis, and the aforementioned Thiago and Cuenca have all been called up to various squads. Jonathan Dos Santos, Deulofeu, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Tello, and Miño all trained with the first team squad and seem like necessary additions to the squad for the match.**
Predicted squad: Pinto, Maxwell, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Tello
I mean, I guess, right? JDS should get a few minutes in there and might even make the start, but I prefer to see him as a sub and to get this game over with as soon as possible–if possible. I know you read these previews, Pep, because you always do something other than what I say and there’s no way that could happen every match if you didn’t read these. So please just start a really good lineup and let’s win this here away leg instead of leaving it for Messi to save us in late December when we’re back from the Club World Cup. Also, HI PEP!
Official Prediction: 1-2. Things happen, goals are scored, Pinto makes a magnificent save and then somehow contrives to let in a perfectly simple stop. Goals by Prats, Xavi, and JDS to win it and your hearts.
And, as a parting shot, because I said badger a bunch of times: here’s this again. And yeah, I kinda like the Copa del Rey. We’ll get into that in a different post later.
*For those interested, the Camp Nou was officially opened on September 24, 1957, the same day that President Eisenhower sent troops to protect the Little Rock Nine. Wikipedia really is awesome. Orvill Faubus, on the other hand, was not.
**That does mean, of course that with their increased fatigue and combined with the absences of Cuenca, Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Marc Muniesa, and Carles Planas on U-21 duty, the B team will have a lot of trouble this weekend with Girona. Fortunately, Girona is in 19th place, 5 points adrift of Barça Babies (that’s what the B stands for, right?), so they might be able to squeak out a draw or something with Juvenil players. But I doubt it; that’s simply too many pieces of the puzzle to lose or make play games so close together.