Liga Preview: Getafe-Barcelona, Saturday 4pm ET, GolTV
With the Champions League group stage done and dusted despite one remaining match–but don’t tell Fontas that’s why he’s starting–La Liga takes center stage. The next 3 league matches will decide a lot more than some might acknowledge given what’s happening in the 4th one from now. I’d love to do some really intense run-in to the preview, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in the US and I’m traveling (currently sitting in sunny Washington DC, looking out over the National Cathedral as I write this) so you’ll have to deal with it.
Getafe are currently in 15th place, but are just 1 point above the relegation zone as they’re tied on 10 points with Mallorca and Zaragoza. They’ve won 1 match since the end of September (a 3-2 home victory over Atletico Madrid) and they’ve only won 2 matches all year. Both were at home, however, as were 3 of their 4 draws. The best team they’ve played at home, Levante, ended up with a draw, but it was also the first match of the season and Levante hadn’t yet gone on their impressive run of wins.
The other interesting thing about their overall record is their goal difference: Despite 6 losses, they’re only at -6. They’ve only lost by more than 1 goal twice (@RM and @Valencia), which is impressive in one sense. Their only loss at home was to Rayo Vallecano back in mid September, so they’ve got a bit of a record to protect. Can they, though, against the firepower that Barça brings to the table?
FCB’s squad list: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Fàbregas, Puyol, Xavi, Villa, Sanchez, Messi, Thiago, Mascherano, Keita, Busquets, Pedro, Maxwell, Adriano, Abidal, Fontàs, Isaac Cuenca.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see a 3-4-3 like against Milan in midweek thanks to the return of Dani Alves, but it was a fun experiment, as long as you forget Ibra’s goal and the massive space on Milan’s left flank and…well, read the review for a full analysis. I think we’ll see a very similar lineup to what we saw against Zaragoza. Iniesta is still out injured, but Adriano is back in, so we may see Adriano play in place of Abidal to give the latter a rest, but that’s not a major tactical change.
Getafe is talking a big game, but they’re somewhat lacking in firepower and that could haunt them. They’ve scored 13 goals in 12 matches, 5 of them by Miku, the joint 8th top scorer in the league (tied with Cesc, for what it’s worth). That’s really not so bad a record since Sevilla has 12 and Espanyol just 9 and they’re fighting it out for European spots, but Getafe’s defense leaves a little bit to be desired. Only 2 teams (Osasuna and Zaragoza) have worse defensive records. So watch out for Miku, who has admittedly scored 4 of his goals on the road, and pile it on their defensive end. They’ve allowed 6 goals at home, but their away form suggests a fair bit of defensive weakness.
Okay, so, lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Adriano, Keita, Cesc, Xavi, Villa, Messi, Cuenca.
Official Prediction: 0-3, goals by Villa (2) and Messi. I’m a sucker for predicting Villa scoring, but I assume that it means he won’t play a minute of the game. Ah well.
Time for more food!