A Return to Normalcy, For the Moment: Barça-L’Hospi

CDR Preview: Barcelona – L’Hospitalet, Wednesday Thursday 4pm ET, GolTV

It’s a return to Spain and the Copa del Rey against inter-city “rivals” L’Hospitalet in a second leg match that is anything but what was expected going in. The first leg ended 0-1 with just a solitary Iniesta golazo (azo-azo-aaaazo) the difference between the teams so far. You will not see a full strength lineup against L’Hospi tomorrow thanks to 7 squad members being given the green light for extended vacations.

Those players are Messi, Alves, Alexis, Mascherano, Adriano, Maxwell, and Keita, according to the official site. They’ll get until December 29th off and then it’s back to work for them, although Keita will be traveling once again in mid January to lay in the 2012 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Whatever you think of this tournament (and I’m not a massive fan of the confederation tournaments like the Euros or the Gold Cup), it’s badly timed for all the players in Europe and its going to have a 2012 and 2013 edition. At least after that it’ll be played only on the odd years, thus never overlapping with the World Cup and also creating an easily understood CAF representative at the Confederations Cup.

Of those, only Keita lineup against the Segunda B side the first time out. I suspect we’ll see something similar to the lineup that went out before, but with Sergio Busquets in the center of the field. Barça history of drawing after coming back from the Intercontinental Cup or CWC was noted by the official site, so it would behoove Guardiola to start a stronger lineup than might otherwise be necessary against a team as small as L’Hospi. That is, if you care about the Copa del Rey at all. If you don’t, I say find a way to start Hleb and get this January party on the road.

I happen to care a small amount about the CDR, unlike the CWC, so I’d like to see the team progress, though not at the sacrifice of either La Liga or the Champions League. I believe the CDR is where youngsters (and Pinto) should be given the chance to shine. And I don’t even agree that Pinto should really be given a chance to shine there. Oier or Miño should be rotating through and developing as first team keepers. But I’m okay with Pinto starting because I’m not convinced any of the youth keepers are playing at a high enough level to warrant inclusion.

Tello and Rafinho got their debuts in the first leg, a match that also featured B-teamer Jonathan dos Santos at right back. Otherwise, it was a first team lineup: Pinto, Fontas, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, and Villa. We’ll obviously not be seeing the 7 feature in this match; we’ll probably see Pedro instead as well as Thiago. Given his lack of playing time in the CWC final, Mascherano could very well be fielded in the center of defense to give the CBs rest; a partnership of Masche(te) and Andreu “Awkward Runner” Fontas would be interesting, if also possibly a bit disjointed. One is all “I am going to tear you to pieces” while the other is like “Hey, man, let’s just jog next to each other in ungainly ways despite having massive amounts of physical talent.”

So who starts? Pinto, that’s for sure. Otherwise, I don’t know.

Predicted Lineup: Pinto, Alves, Adriano, Maxwell, Jonathon Dos Santos, Fontas, Mascherano Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Thiago, Cesc, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Afellay, Messi, Deulofeu.

I mean, that’s as good a guess as any, right? Maybe he’ll start Rafinha, Tello, Montoya, or Bartra and move JDS to midfield? I don’t know. Nor do I know exactly how many first teamers Guardiola has to start. I think it’s 7, but I could be wrong.

What about the possible outcomes? If Barça wins or draws with any score, they’re through. A 0-1 loss means extra time and any other loss (1-2, 4-39, (x-1)-x, 18-20) means Barça would be out. That means the team cannot go to sleep at all and must power through this match to reach the wonderful Yuletide vacations. Or Hanukkah vacations, if that’s more your thing (tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, by the way). Kwanzaa too since that starts December 26. Or Festivus, I guess. Am I missing anything? I’m sure I am, but I can’t think of anything else.

Okay, I know this isn’t much of a preview, but hey, it’s a CDR match after a long trip back from Japan. Give me a break. What? Yeah, no, I didn’t go with them, I just sat on my couch and watch them. But it was still hard, okay? I had to get up at like 8:30 and watch the replay all tired and whatnot on a Sunday. That’s no easy task, my friends. So this is what you get. Also I’m doing other things that are totally “real life” related. So yeah.

PS research for these things can be really fun. I never encountered this while I was in Barcelona, but apparently there’s a brewery in L’Hospitalet called, get this, Glops. Glops! That is hilarious for some reason I can’t really describe. Say it out loud and tell me it’s not funny. “What are you drinking?” “Glops.” That would make me laugh! It does make me laugh!

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Glops! That is the best name ever. I’ll have a pint of Moose Drool and a Glops, please. I expect it to be like sniffing glue and drinking some peppermint schnapps.

    Poor Fontas.

    1. Hmmm…not sure about this. I haven’t followed this case extensively, but from what I’ve read Suarez called Evra something that is considered highly offensive in England and Liverpool’s argument was that the word should be interpreted in a different cultural context. IMO, 8 matches is a lot especially for a team that relies so much on him. Second, is that word really that offensive? I don’t know. My take is, we are becoming too sensitive about everything. I get that the FA wants to take discrimination out of the game, and yes punishment should be enforced, but I disagree with not letting him play for 8 matches. This somehow feels more like the FA wants to take a stand and makes Suarez a scapegoat. Admittedly, I haven’t followed the story that closely nor have I read the report, so this is just an initial opinion.

    2. Am not taking sides here. But I think these anti raciost measures needs to get a grip. I have no doubt that saurez intentions were on a racist nature, as he is reported to have said the word many times. So this punishment is very much justifiable.

      What I want to bring in is a perspective from a different incident. This incident tookl place in a cricket match between India and Australia. It was alleged that Harbhajan, an Indian called Symonds, a native australian a monkey. In such scenarios establishing racial intent is must.

      In India when you are angry with some one, the first set of abuse which will be uttered is monkey or donkey or a dog. It’s not a big deal here and nobody attaches any racial discrimination with that. Where as you say something like Mother F***ker or like that it could become a big issue. Hence when a player born and brought up in that culture calls another one monkey in the heat of the moment, then it should not only be looked from a racist point of view but also from a cultural point of view.

      So every racism inquiry have to prove the intent for sure. Also it cannot be based on strict definitions and should be flexible enough to explore cultural boundaries.

    3. There goes Liverpool’s season. Fully deserved if he is in fact guilty. Though 40k quid is like a coffee for Suarez. It’s the 8 games that’ll hurt him.

      So what happens to Terry now? Something tells me the FA won’t ban England’s captain a few months before the Euros.

  2. Not sure if you mentioned it, but the B-teamers who practiced with the first team today:
    Oier, Montoya, Dos Santos, Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Muniesa, Tello and Rafinha.

    Montoya, Dos Santos, and Cuenca are locks for starts I think. Rafinha is a bit of a maybe.

    Also – Alves stuck around and practiced today even though he was on vacation. I hope Montoya was watching and Alves whispered a secret or two into his ear.

  3. According to the official site Abidal is also off on holiday already, so it looks like Muniesa will be our LB.

    Montoya & Cuenca will also start for sure. I am very surprised Bartra wasn’t called up. I really hope Pep has discarded the “JDS as right back” experiment. Remember, we only have a one goal lead, so I think Busquets will start over JDS, actually he almost has to for the 7 first team players rule (assuming neither Xavi nor Iniesta will play):

    Pinto’s Plait of Power
    Montoya Pique Fontas Muniesa
    Sergi Roberto Busquets Thiago
    Cuenca Cesc Pedro

    Subs: JDS, Tello, Rafinha

    Possibly El Capita will start over Pique to give some leadership and stability on the pitch, but personally I prefer he sits unless strictly necessary.

    1. The game “across the street” was actually very, very tough save for Illusionista magic. You’re right, Busquets almost has to start this one. I would prefer El Capita to get a rest as I believe Pique should be sufficient.

      Though I think we should have an easier time this time around. L’Hospi will be a bit in awe of just playing at the Camp Nou.

  4. Sorry – OT. I quote Graham Hunter interview from Total Barca:

    “how do you replace the extra that Xavi gives and the extra that Puyol gives you? They are two who are coming towards their end, we might have another three years of Xavi, but this season has showed that we might not have another two years of Puyol. We don’t know and how do you replace a character like that?”

    I honestly feel Valdes could replace the character of Puyol and Xavi once they retire. He has the flair and spirit ala Puyol and Xavi. But one thing he should learn is to manage the circumstances in the match calmly and cool headed, not emotionally. He should learn how to be the “peacemaker” instead of putting fire in the brawl which could worsening our team. In some aspect, he’s not mature enough in leadership, yet.

    1. I never like the idea of a GK becoming the captain and the heart of the team. Look at Buffon & Casillas. They both can’t really control the game. It has nothing to do with them but they are not really on the field so they can’t really control.

      It is best to have the leader in the outfield.

    2. I’ll bet money that Fabregas will be captain one day. He may not have seniority, but he has leadership & human qualities, people respect him, and of course he was already captain at Arsenal. And he is Catalan, which probably does make a difference.

      People talk about Pique being captain, but I’m not sure about his on-field leadership skills.

    3. Pique is being groomed for captaincy for sure..a dark horse could also be Messi..
      But I can surely see Pique, Cesc and Messi as future captains

  5. The L’Hospi match will be fun. Nice way to end the first half of the season as it’ll give the kids a chance to play.

    On another note – evidently someone took one of the comments I wrote here at BFB and then copied and pasted it word for word over at the real madrid football blog (blog Bassam and Kaushik run) without saying it was a comment that I had written.

    I’m more than happy for people to who find something I may say valuable to take the ideas and reconfigure them. But I really don’t think it’s right for one person to take something someone else wrote and just take it word for word without any attribution – even if its a comment from a discussion thread.

    If the person who did that is reading this – please don’t let it happen again.

    1. Oh, that’s just disgusting, Euler.

      Whoever the thief is, they should be nailed to the wall by the ears with rusty nails.

    2. Thank you very much if the —- is banned, Bassam.

      Apologies, but as a writer, plagarism in any shape or form makes me want to bite something.

    3. Heh. On the wagon, but injuns circling shooting arrows at me. Will try to make liveblog, but there may be some bullshit to which I must attend.

    4. The tv stations here aren’t showing any Copa Del Rey games, so I’ll have to rely on streams and liveblog to follow the game.

    5. What happened exactly? Don’t tell me someone posted Euler’s marathon tactical goods on another site/blog as their own work? The nerve!

      Though I think we should nab Euler for plagiarism too- he is CLEARLY in Pep’s head stealing Pep’s thoughts.

    6. Flattering in a way, but definitely not cool. I admit I am a bit OCD about attributing quotes I use, or at least posting links to the original. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks that is important.

      And cheers to Bassam for noticing and correcting the situation.

    7. It was a tad funny, and obvious. The poster was trolling, calling people words and stuff. Then suddenly, he posts this huge tactical analysis about the game.

      Kaushik points out that it is not his and then i double check Euler’s comment and it is copy pasted! Everyone was happy that such a troll can’t come up with such a good comment.

  6. i am a bit worried that isaiah is our own ronaldinho. once a star, who has maybe slacked a little. stating mascherano is on vacation, then including him in the lineup. writing previews that seem obligatory. missing details that could be caught by staying on top of the official website. also, getting the date of the game wrong. it’s on thursday the 22nd according to the official site. not wednesday.

    still VERY appreciate of his work. and acknowledging that he has a life outside of BFB. but wish he could attain those lofty heights once again.

    please dont take this too hard. you’re still on my fantasy team.

    1. again, could be a case of, you have spoiled me, you have set the standard high for yourself, etc.

      much respect.

  7. Calvin says:
    December 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm
    I typically take every goal.com article with a pinch of salt, but I clicked on the innocuous looking article “La Liga team of the season so far” and saw that they had Arbeloa over Alves at right back.

    I almost spit coffee all over my table (which would have ruined all my notes) and then fell on the floor and rolled around laughing for 10 minutes. My neighbors must have thought I was having a seizure.

    And now my shin hurts because I knocked it against the leg of my table. Stupid goal.com

    1. Arbeloa over Alves?

      I feel like taking a look at myself but I know it’s going to make me upset cause I don’t find it even funny.

    2. Uh oh just be wary of shin over exertion 😉 no CWCs for you

      I saw that article too and found it equally hilarious. Though reading the user commnets restored my faith in humanity a bit as many comments echoed our sentiments. Always wondered- bs.com gets a LOT of comments from nigeria of all places. Is there a particular reason for it?

      Okay comments off an iPhone just don’t work.

    3. Yeah yeah you’re right Mani. I was thinking of asking it a few months back as well but I’m scared it might sound wrong.

      I don’t understand why 90% are from Nigeria.

  8. I belong to the group of people who dont care about the copa, who is with me?, hopefully we are out of this silly competition ASAP, and hopefully EE wins it again this year.

    1. You (and Kxevin) may not care about the CDR, but I am very happy that the team and Guardiola do. That hunger for winning everything is part of what makes this team the best of all time.

    2. If they had that kind of mentality where they don’t give a damn about CdR, it will affect their mentality for other cups as well no matter what.

      You must have a MUST-WIN at all times!!

    3. Ya know, once you allow the small, seemingly unimportant things to slip, it’s easier to let the big things slip as well. Let’s not step on that slippery slope.

    4. I mean, how can you not CARE about a competition in which you take part? I am glad Pep cares, though it is no surprise. It’s the very nature of being competitive, not wanting to lose ANYthing, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Also the fact that you are representing FCBarcelona and all the history that comes with the great club.

      Even as a player, if I was one, I would give it my all because I would hate the thought of losing, letting another team celebrate the spoils of victory when it could have and should have been me instead.

      And as blitzen mentions, this is the G.O.A.T team we are talking about. We want MOAR. MOAR!!!

  9. OT from totalbarca:

    (it is rumored that) Neymar has agreed to personal terms with Barcelona and that money has already changed hands in the deal. Sandro Rosell has allegedly paid 10 million Euros to Santos in order to secure the services of Neymar sometime before 2014. If the details of the deal are to be believed, Santos will owe Barcelona 20 million Euros if they decide to send the player elsewhere. The total operation, likely to be finalized after the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, will be worth 60 million Euros.


    1. These kinds of signings will bring us down. I think it’s more for marketing than sporting reasons. Like Beckham.

      What we need is like a Dinho or Munaian or a Hazard in these times.

      Although Neymar isn’t as bad as I expected him to be but he is still a NO NO for me. No tracking back, selfish, doesn’t link well, no 1-2’s and too hyped up (ego will be high).

    2. I really don’t think Barca need any more marquee signings at the moment. Now they should promote second team players up for a bit.

  10. A funny comment from an NBA fan;

    “Of course the NBA is a national league, but it is by far the strongest league in the world, which makes the title “world champion” realistic and, I think, accurate.

    I think any NBA team would crush the best European club right now.”

    Why are the NBA champions called WOrld Champions? And why is the MLB (baseball) KO stages called the World Series? It’s only the American teams so why is it called WORLD?

    1. This is forever a topic of discussion. I agree with you 100% in that the champions of leagues from the U.S. should not call themselves World Champions or anything of the sort.

      Though the point they bring up is also valid too. The NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB really are the best leagues in the world in their respective sports and probably would crush their best competition around the world (unless we’re talking about my beloved Raptors of course sigh).

      I still think it’s silly to call themselves self-anointed world champs. Funny thing is- they don’t dare call the winners of the MLS Cup world champions 😉

  11. ” Funny thing is- they don’t dare call the winners of the MLS Cup world champions ”

    Barcelona would struggle in the MLS as they’ve never played the likes of DC United— Lionel Messi would struggle in a hot, humid night at the RFK Stadium.

    1. Heh, that Stoke argument is foolproof!

      I do wonder what a competitive game between FCB and a team from the MLS would look like. Double digit scoring perhaps (even with a parked bus)? I did go to see a friendly here in Toronto between *gasp* EE and Toronto FC. The ease with which TB and co. annihilated our Toronto team was astonishing. Mind you, this was a very early pre-season EE vs a mid-MLS season TFC. Final score was 5-1 I believe. So basically- they did to TFC what we did better to them 😉

    2. You had to mention TFC, didn’t you? They make me so sad. To go from watching Barcelona, or even Barcelona B, to…that. It’s a shock to my system, I tell you.

    3. Barcelona would struggle in the MLS as they’ve never played the likes of DC United— Lionel Messi would struggle in a hot, humid night at the RFK Stadium.


      One of the funniest comments ever on BFB.
      So Stoke=DC United in a humid condition instead of a cold wet night.

      And it is also highly disrespectful to the other leagues and teams in the world to totally ignore them.

      I do agree that they include the worlds best players but so can we say about football players playing in CL or in Europe basically can’t we?

    4. Rare is the true “world” champion. Probably the closest would be an Olympic champion, because every country has held qualifications for a particular event, and only sends the best qualifiers for a given event. Then those competitors fight it out at the Olympics. So you could rightly call that winner a “world champion.”

      The Club World Cup winner isn’t a “world champion.” Is the Champions League winner? Good question. If you consider the qualification for and weeding-out process for the Champions League, that winner is a darn sight closer to a true “world” champion than an NBA or baseball side.

      But the American conceit is that if only we play it, or if we play it at the highest level, our winner is, de facto, a world champion. It’s pretty goofy, actually.

  12. The games is tomorrow (thursday) according to Pep in his presser, he said he wasn’t worried about his renovation and that people should trust how and when he will start the renewal or not. He also said that he didn’t talk anything with Neymar and that he didn’t tell him “take me to Barça”. One more lie for As.

  13. Official site says Montoya renewed til 2014.. Yay! (okay, maybe im late)
    Hope he gets to play more especially in the copa games…

  14. Oh, and Pathetico has been dumped out of the CDR by Albacete–Iniesta’s home club that he just bought into.

    Forza Albacete! Visca Iniesta!

    (Sorry, Migs, but it’s probably for the best the way things are with AM right now. They need to fix their club business and concentrate on the league.)

    1. Sorry, babe! But you should know better than to read the interweb if you don’t to get spoiled. I just saved you some time. 😉

  15. Totalbarca has posted a report on Soriano’s situation. After Villa’s injury, Soriano was considered to be promoted to the first team. But as he is past 25, once he is promoted he cannot go back to the reserve team. Also, he will have a limited playing time considering the current squad. So, the probability of Soriano to join the first team is slim. I feel sorry this guy. He is like an adolescent child who does not fit anywhere.


    1. Yeah, that was mentioned a while back I think. I’d prefer Soriano to stay with the B-team. His goals are crucial to them and they’ll struggle without him, as we’ve seen.

      His attitude is exemplary though. I’d love for us to reward him somehow.

    2. As vital as he is to the B-team, I’m all for him leaving to get minutes on a senior squad elsewhere. As you said, his attitude has been awesome and he truly deserves some first-team action somewhere before his window closes.

      It’s so strange that a TWENTY FIVE year old is getting too old for the B-team and too old to be promoted and developed on the senior squad. Such is football though.

  16. With the winter break coming up, we’re going to need filler posts to sate you beasts, lol. I’m basically open anything (tho, I can’t guarantee I’ll run with it)

    Some ideas put forward:

    -The Hleb Chronicles
    -BFB Dictionary 2.0
    -Mid season B-team review
    -Special on Catalan NT
    -Villa tribute*

    [*Unlikely as we’ve had a guest post dedicated to him already]

    I asked on Twitter, but I’ll leave it here too.

    Anyone is free to suggest and that includes lurkers of course.

    1. How bout an in-depth mid-season grade/evaluation on all our new-comers to the squad. Ie-Thiago,Alexis,Cuenca,Cesc,Fontas

    2. new skit- Santa visits players maybe

      Villarato, Inc. part 3?

      B team review would be cool. Anyone well wersed on the youth teams?

      Catalan NT would be cool. Anyone figure out the date and time yet of the game that is usially played this time of year?

      Oh my gosh it’s hopeless. After tomorrow we have to survive on EPL alone for a while. Thank goodness for DVRs.

    3. Hi mom4,

      Regular lurker here coming out of hiding just to say that the game is on the 30th at 19:00 (Catalan time)! Yay!

      Cruyff will be naming the squad tomorrow at 13:30. Yay again!

      Here’s the Catalan Football Federation website:

    4. What about the state of the squad on contracts and such. I’ve read that Muniesa, Bartra and Montoya have renew his contracts on condition that they go up on the first team next season, where that would leave us? 3 defenders (top defenders yes) from the cantera for one season, we would need to lend Fontas?
      Maybe a whole tactical review of the season from Euler, telling us how Pep wanted and got Cesc and Sanchez and the evolution of his thought, this year I found a lot more tactical changes than last year, and 09/10.
      And I think is great your idea of a post celebrating el guaje’s achievements in our club.

    5. Yeah, like Dani said, a review of the season so far would be nice, discussing Pep’s vision for the future, the teething problems we had implementing his new formation and how this tactical evolution is going to affect other teams facing us. Also you guys could write about the Ballon d’Or nominations, and suggest which players could boost the squad (Which positions need reinforcement), and address the Mystery that is Cesc’s position in this Barcelona side.
      And happy holidays everybody!

    6. A special on the Catalan game would be nice to see.

      How about a piece on – given the barca babies and all – potential buys for the club in the near future.

      Or how about a piece on position for position best Barca team of all-time. Or of the past decade?

      Any piece on how awesome we are would be welcome really 🙂

  17. This makes me laugh as I will always remember L’Hospitalet as the place I got off the train in Barca after falling asleep, and realizing I was f*cking lost and had no idea how to get back to Diagonal. Spanish gets you by in the city, not really the suburbs.

    So funny that have a ‘team’

  18. I think L’Hospi should just fall their king chess-style.. we own those games. They are ours for keeps. Always

  19. I feel like talking about something since it’s been so quiet here but I’ll wait until the match is over.

  20. Pinto, Piqué, Puyol, Fontàs; Cesc, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Thiago, Cuenca y Pedro #FCBlive

    Just one player from B team, Cuenca, and he has been playing for the first team a couple of months now. Pep means bussiness.

    1. Shocked that Montoya doesn’t even make the bench. I guess that makes JDS the emergency RB backup. Whyyyyy Pep?

    2. Barcelona bench: Valdés, Muniesa, Tello, Sergi Roberto and Dos Santos. #fcblive
      Yes, I was surprised by that too. I wished for Xavi to rest in this match, please God no more injuries.
      On a better note, with that line-up, this is gonna be real fun to watch!

  21. I’ll be here with the liveblog as soon as I can, but I’m currently fighting my way through the throngs of people buying last minute Christmas presents, so it may start a couple minutes late

  22. so:

    puyol – pique – fontas
    xavi – thiago – fabregas
    cuenca – pedro – iniesta


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