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!