Copa Preview: Osasuna – Barça (0-4 aggregate), Round of 16 2nd leg, Thursday, 4pmET
Tis the season of triumphant returns to winning ways. Or, at least, for Barça, the moment when anything better than a 4-0 loss will automatically send them through to the next round of the Copa del Rey. Certainly Getafe pulled it off a few years ago with that 4-0 win at the Coliseum in the semifinals. The first leg had been 5-2 at the Camp Nou, though, and those away goals changed things pretty dramatically. A 5-1 loss would suit Barça just fine, as a matter of fact, though the loss would probably put some of the more frantic fans on suicide watch.
Whatever happens, though, it’s more about what’s looming than what is going on against Osasuna. 4-0 in the first leg probably means a few B-teamers in the mix, but the squad needs to be reminded that it’s going to take something superhuman to get the league title back, so perhaps playing all 1st teamers again to ensure passage to the next round to face Real Madrid (who won 0-1 at Malaga thanks to an absurd mistake by keeper Willy Caballero; though don’t blame it all on poor Willy since Malaga needed to win to advance and not scoring surprisingly didn’t achieve that). More clásicos? Count me in the “ugh, really?” category. I’m developing heart problems about this, people.
Can we agree on that? It’s too many. Make that your next tweet hastag: #toomany, though perhaps in all caps it will get the point across. #TOOMANY. So obviously we’ll have to eliminate them and make the Copa safe for the rest of the world. The first leg could fall on Pep’s birthday too (Jan 18), which would mean that we would also have to win one for ye olde meese-tear. It’s just how it’s got to be, folks. And thus, we must eliminate Osasuna.
That means actually focusing on this match and not worrying about Ballons d’Ors or managerial awards (even if the latter are for Total Excellence and Badassery). It means scoring some goals and getting back to tiki-taka. It means not wondering if Espanyol has found the secret to defeating Barça (they haven’t; at best they’ve found the secret to drawing with FCB). It means maybe giving some kids some time and maybe not, depending. It means winning one for Tito. It means winning 800 million billion matches for Tito. It means reigniting that all-consuming desire for revenge against a team that hasn’t actually done you any wrong. It means then taking that passion and fire on to the next match and, as my high school biology teacher used to say, burning down their villages because I am the dragon and you have awoken my fury.
And no, I’m not kidding about him. He actually said stuff like that about people who got below like a 75 on his tests. Claimed he wore an amulet around his neck to keep him from turning into a dragon and, one presumes, burning all the villages there are to burn. He was also pretty much the best teacher I’ve ever had. So there’s that too.
That sort of passion is useful sometimes and now might be just that moment. Keep your head on your shoulders, of course, because you never know when you’ll end up outside of Coffeyville, Kansas with Matthew McConaughey on your tail. You’ll want to survive the witching hour to prey on more helpless saps throughout your long, distinguished career. Sure, it’s on the road, which is hard, but you’ve won there before and you’ll do it again (preferably tomorrow).
Osasuna is in a little bit of a dogfight for their Europa League spot (and within striking distance of the final CL spot too), which might distract them if they think they need to concentrated on their match against Racing. Oddly, though, they’ve got 3 consecutive home games coming up, which is probably a huge boost for them. They’re undefeated at home, after all, having won 5, drawn 3, and lost none in La Liga and draw once in the Copa. That might suggest that they concentrate on the league just to make sure they gain maximum points, especially with the second of those 3 home matches against Valencia and Atletico Madrid.
Whatever, Sport thinks we roll out with a decently serious side and their selection makes sense given that Alves and Iniesta (and the departing Maxwell) are missing. Alves “felt some discomfort” according to the official site, which is somewhat troubling, but they’re taking precautions, which is good. I’ll endorse their lineup: Pinto, Montoya, Pique, Fontas, Adriano, Mascherano, Xavi, Thiago, Ceunca, Messi, Pedro. Works for me on several levels, most of which involve resting key components of the team such as Puyol, Busi, and the not included Iniesta and Alves. Sergi Roberto was also included in the list and could make a start given that his inclusion wouldn’t put the team over the 4 B-teamers rule. So maybe he’ll play.
Osasuna comes at us with the following squad: Ricardo, Asier Riesgo, Marc Bertrán, Miguel Flaño, Lolo, Satrústegui, Postigo, Hermosa, Nekounam, Puñal, Calleja, Raúl García, Cejudo, Lamah, Roberto Torres, Raoul Loe, Lekic, Manu
There’s a lot of youth players involved in that, so I don’t know what lineup they’ll bring out. They’ve also included their medical report here, if you’re interested in such things. They drew 0-0 at Real Sociedad this weekend, so they’re still in 5th in the league, which I’m guessing suits them. I don’t know their true ambitions, actually, but I’m thinking they’re all about 5th place and a Europa League spot unless Levante falls off its pedestal and they can nab 4th, which would be totally rad. So, again, I think they’re giving this one up for lost and moving on with La Liga.
Offical Prediction: 1-1. Drab affair. Lots of fog. Messi scores and everyone poops their pants in wonder.