Awaken the Dragon Within: Osasuna-Barça

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.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


    • Chiu
      January 12, 2012

      yes, 1st leg in bernabeu.

      Hope Messi start from the bench agaisnt Osasuna

      OT – One thing that concerned me for this Copa classic is Pinto as GK. I pray Pep make one-off exception for this one by playing VV. I appreciate and respect his role as automatic starter for Copa during Pep era. I fully support Pinto if we play against any liga team, but not EE. I’m anxious Pinto sloppy play could cost us the tie.

    • Gogah
      January 12, 2012

      Good. I am always a little more relaxed when the first leg is away.
      And on principle, Pinto must start.

      As for today, I really can’t see why Messi must play at all.
      I’d play the baby team that Battered Bate Borisov.

      • barca96
        January 12, 2012

        I really really wish that Pep would let Messi sit out this match. Because of him obeying Messi’s orders last week in the first leg, Messi wasn’t so fresh agaisnt Espanyol.

        Hopefully now that we’re already 4-0 up, Pep won’t think it’s necessary to play Messi.

  1. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 12, 2012

    about Pinto, he will always start on CdR.. that’s not gonna change..

    of course I feel safer with VV, but looking back from the last El Clasico, where VV looked so shaky, we saw that even your best goalkeeper can make mistakes.

  2. barca96
    January 12, 2012

    Why is there such a big fuss over the Kompany red card vs. Nani Man United?
    I just decided to have a look at it just now because the match was last weekend and people were still talking about it so I decided to watch what happened.

    Did you guys see the way Rooney reacted to it? And when Barca players do it, it’s the end of the world. I see a similar reaction in every EPL match I watch. And I don’t even watch the whole match, just bit by bit and I always find them doing things like, appealing for cards, diving. But when Barca does it, suddenly the players are like criminals.

    Oh and how come people are questioning that red card? Compare that tp Pepe’s red card last season vs. Alves? Most of the non-Barca fans were furious and claim that that foul didn’t deserve a red.

    • blitzen
      January 12, 2012

      I don’t have a problem with Kompany getting a red card for that tackle–it wasn’t a truly dangerous tackle, but it was two-footed and the ref was within his rights. I do think a 4 match ban is extremely excessive, though. There was no malicious intent, no one got injured, why 4 whole matches?

      • barca96
        January 12, 2012

        For the past few weeks there has been really hefty penalties given by the English FA. It seemed that Suarez and Kompany are the guinea pigs of it.

        But a lot of people can accept this red card but when Pepe went streched leg on Alves’ shin, people had problems with it. I find Pepe’s challenge more dangerous than Kompany’s.

        • Chiu
          January 12, 2012

          In Pepe case, that’s partly the result from Mou antics and his conspiracy theory campaign that steer public opinion to discredit our victory.

  3. CuleToon
    January 12, 2012

    Last Tuesday, TV3, the Catalan public TV, broadcasted a special program about Leo Messi, «Leo Messi 360. El petit mes gran (The greatest little one)».

    Through the years, I’ve collected a lot of TV features and documentaries about Barça and Messi, and I think this is one of the best so far. Of course, it’s in Catalan, but the images speak for themselves and will touch you just the same.

    I suppose it can be downloaded via TV3 or YouTube, but there’s an HD version that can be downloaded via torrent. Here’s the link:

    Don’t miss it!

    • nzm
      January 12, 2012

      Thank you – we missed recording it!

  4. January 12, 2012

    Anyone see the CNN video with exclusive access to Barca’s dressing room? SiempreRoja7 posted it up on her twitter. Sweet looking locker room!

    Each locker has names taped on them of all the players who have used that particular locker in the past. I thought that was a really neat touch. Messi’s had boer as one of the names. They didn’t show much else. Oh, Messi’s also had a picture of him with the Golden Boot.

      • Chiu
        January 12, 2012

        arrgh you’re so lucky can experiece lot of barca-related thing live. I envy you…:)

      • January 12, 2012

        Again, I envy you! These are great! Messi’s locker has been moved towards the middle now I believe. Or at least that’s where it looked like it was in the CNN video.

        Would you happen to have a close up of the wall in the back of the physio/massage room? Would be neat to see what’s in all those frames.

        • nzm
          January 12, 2012

          Yes, Messi’s locker is in the middle – I could only fit half the dressing room into each shot.

          Not sure if I do have a close-up of the wall – I’ll have to check my files.

    • Chiu
      January 12, 2012

      I watched it too. Nice peep, but the duration in the locker room is too short.

      • January 12, 2012

        I bet Pep was standing just off camera pointing at his watch and crossing his arms. I wish that bit was longer too. Their drinks counter looks like a bar.

  5. nzm
    January 12, 2012

    Not too sure about your backline, Isaiah – I’d prefer that there was at least one veteran there in the shape of Mascherano, Puyol or Abidal.

    If it’s Masch, then I’d expect to see Cesc at midfield.

    But then – it’s Pep. Expect anything! 😀

    • nzm
      January 12, 2012

      Well, now that the team’s been names, your backline is spot on, Isaiah!

  6. Helge
    January 12, 2012

    I just hope that the players do not play to their limit during this weather condition and on this almost-frozen pitch.

    The next matches are Betis, Real, Villarreal, Real – why should they risk anything? Why should they even put all their energy into this match? They should take this match as lightly as possible, play on 50% or something like that. I’d take a 2-0 loss without a doubt.
    And Messi should get a rest, at least for one halftime.

  7. Miguel
    January 12, 2012

    My high school biology teacher was a female body builder. She was hilarious. I think I remember her telling us that peeing on your feet in the shower was good for getting rid of athlete’s foot.

    Another Clásico. Woohoo!

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