Ice In The Veins: Barça – Zaragoza

La Liga Preview: Barça – Real Zaragoza, Sunday 4pmEST ESNP2HD

The last time they were in town...
The last time they were in town...

There things you don’t do in life: take candy from children, start land wars in Asia, piss off The Yaya. Iniesta and Xavi have spent the last week fending off ridiculous questions about whether or not Barça is in crisis. What? We lose one match and suddenly there’s even the remote possibility that we’re in crisis? Villarreal is in crisis mode, not Barça. Forget that nonsense if you’re an FCB fan, it’s absurd. If you’re a player, I’m sure that it will galvanize you, make you mad, and make you clinical. Crisis? I doubt Real Zaragoza thinks we’re in crisis right now.

And I doubt that we’ll be very kind to the blanquillos when they come visiting on Sunday (check your local time here) not through any real fault of their own, but because the media has made this a match that will define more than just the days around it, but a lot of the season. A match against Real Zaragoza has gone from being a match against the 13th ranked team in the league to being a match that will decide whether or not Barça is having a disastrous season. Now do you see why it’s so absurd?

Lately I’ve been overconfident about our chances (I predicted the Valencia match a 1-3 victory and Rubin Kazan a 2-0 victory), but I don’t see why, in retrospect, I should have been more pessimistic. Against Valencia we ran into a brick wall of solid play and we were bailed out by Victor Valdes, but even so we controlled large swaths of the match and could have won, though probably not 1-3. Against Rubin we were a superior team for 99% of the match. Marquez muffs a high ball and it lands at the foot an attacker who drives the ball in from 8 miles out–that’s not us playing badly, that’s the luck of the draw. We had 13 shots on target and hit the post at least twice. Their keeper didn’t have to have a massive game, but he did enough to keep out shots that might have flustered others. So it goes, but I think that reinforces why I was confident going in: we’re the best team on the planet. In La Liga we’re 6W-1D-0L with 3 goals allowed all year. And we’re in a crisis because the Russian champions and Valencia kept us from winning after we had most of our squad away on international duty? Whatever. If that’s a crisis, I’ll take crisis mode over whatever it is that other clubs have week-in and week-out.

Zaragoza, Spain
Zaragoza, Spain

To the match at hand, then:

Real Zaragoza is one of the three new members of La Liga, having been promoted this year after having finished the 2008-09 season in second place in La Segunda A. Their overall league record is 2W-2D-3L (10GF, 11GA) and their away league record is 0W-1D-2L (3GF, 7GA). That’s not too solid a record, to be honest, and should really inspire confidence if you’re Zaragoza fan. Their leading goalscorer is Javier Arizmendi, who has 3 goals to his name. Last year’s team leader in goals, Ewerthon (who had 28), currently has 1, but he has also only appeared in 3 matches as compared to Arizmendi’s 7.

It’s always hard for me to judge the quality of an opponent when I haven’t caught any of their matches during the year, but the statistics suggest that they’re not going to put up too much of a fight. They’ve got some good players (Angel Lafita, for instance), but nobody who is a world beater (not even Jermaine Pennant) and they’ll have a tough time coming to the Camp Nou and finding points. Their toughest opponent was at Sevilla, where they lost 4-1, but that’s not such a surprise seeing as Sevilla has turned out to be pretty damned good.

Let’s compare schedules:

Barça Zaragoza
Gijon 3-0 home win 1-1 away draw
Atleti 5-2 home win 2-1 away loss
Getafe 0-2 away win 3-0 home win
Racing 4-1 home win 2-2 home draw

The other 3 matches Zaragoza played were against opponents we have not faced (Sevilla, Tenerife, and Valladolid). This little table does help us recognize that Zaragoza is perhaps better than their statistics would otherwise suggest, but it doesn’t lead me to believe they have much of a chance if they can’t even beat Atleti (who lost their coach, Abel Resino, by the way).

Because the midweek match is a Copa del Rey away leg against Cultural Leonesa, I expect the big guns to be playing and not being rested. There’s no reason to think that we can’t start an all B-team squad against Leonesa, so our starting lineup should reflect not only the desire to win this match, but also to make it a statement. We obviously can’t disregard Zaragoza, so let’s, um, regard them by starting as solid a lineup as we can.

We’re without Dani Alves because of injury, but with Thierry Henry on the verge of coming back, we’re getting tantalizingly close to getting our starting lineup intact and rumbling just as we get into the makin’ hay part of the season. That’s pretty cool, of course. So, assuming he’s fit enough, I say start Henry on the bench and bring him on for 30 minutes or so as a replacement for whoever we put at LW. I think our back line will set itself, though Guardiola’s probably not reacting as negatively to Marquez’s efforts against Rubin as some.

A word or fifty, then, about Marquez: Against Rubin he wasn’t horrific by any stretch of the imagination. He didn’t have a masterful game, but the first goal, while being his fault, wasn’t some bone-headed mistake that could have been avoided. It’s not like he made a poor decision, he flubbed the trap, which obviously isn’t good, but he wasn’t doing anything particularly dangerous. The ball happened to spin to a Rubin player who then happened to smash it 40 yards into the back of the net. Shit happens and while if shit happens on a regular basis then you can claim to see a pattern, for now, only one shit thing has happened, so I don’t get the antagonism against him. The second goal was 0% his fault. Bojan pushed the ball back into the midfield when he should have been controlling the ball. That led to a break and Marquez and Pique were both caught far up the field pressing. Hector has analyzed this before and basically what happened was that it became a foot race between Marquez and an attacker. Marquez was forced to guess when the pass was going to be made and he guessed incorrectly, but only because the pass itself from Dominguez was perfectly weighted and timed. Pique had his man (Dominguez) contained in that he was forcing him into Marquez, but that doesn’t mean Marquez has an easy time of just strolling up and taking the ball. Both defenders were backpedaling against two players who are probably faster than they are flat out, much less when one of them is backwards.

Whatever, Marquez is having an off-period only in that he’s not lighting the world on fire, but the midfield has been uncharacteristically generous with their giveaways, meaning that the defense is often caught out of position because of the high line. In the Valencia game it happened at least three times, but that’s not the back line’s fault. That’s the midfield’s fault. Iniesta and Xavi have been sending sloppy passes every which way for a couple of weeks now and while it hasn’t hurt us too much because we do have a good defense (and they’re getting better), they have made it harder to be good defensively. I’m not arguing that Marquez should start every damned match, because I don’t rate him as highly as Pique or Puyol, but I do rate him, at least for now, above Chygrynskiy because our Chygnasty is currently untested and hasn’t shown me any more capabilities in the defensive third than anyone else.

Okay, so that’s out of my system. Good.

So here’s my proposed lineup: Valdes, Puyol, Chygrynskiy, Pique, Abidal, The Yaya, Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan, Ibra, Messi.

He's totally about to school someone, isn't he?
He's totally about to school someone, isn't he?

I can understand if Guardiola decides to put Marquez in over Pique (more experience to help Chygrynskiy) and I can also understand putting Pedro! in over Bojan. I think that Chygrynskiy gets the start in this one and then Marquez can be captain against Leonesa, just to provide some solid veteran leadership for the youngsters. I like Bojan as a starter here because he’s got something to prove and needs minutes whereas Pedro! might benefit from being rested now and given the starter’s role against Leonesa. Fortunately we travel to Osasuna next Saturday, so it’s not the world’s toughest opponent (though they are a surprising 9th right now), which means we can get all of our players save Alves back to 100% and not have to start Henry and risk a recurrence of his injury. A fully fit Henry against Osasuna and then Rubin Kazan in Russia is certainly worth more than a less than 100% Henry against Zaragoza and Leonesa.

That I’m calling for putting Iniesta and Xavi in the midfield in front of The Yaya rather than reintroducing Keita to the starting lineup has nothing to do with what Keita has offered us this year and more to do with getting that twin-engine supersonic jet that we know Iniesta and Xavi can be back up and running. There were flashes against Rubin Kazan, but there wasn’t quite the breathtaking energy and movement that characterized last year’s title runs because they’re not quite back on the same page yet. They’re close and I think 90 minutes against Zaragoza could do wonders for their confidence as well as for our scoreline.

Now, I think that this lineup only works if the majority of the starters are rested against Leonesa. Xavi must be rested against Leonesa for a start against Zaragoza to make any sense whatsoever. Xavi has already played 1,183 minutes over 13 appearances. Alves is the only outfield player who comes close to that with 13 appearances for 1,169 minutes. Xavi needs to rest, so he should not play against Leonesa. A lineup that Guardiola could opt for is Busi-Xavi-Keita or Busi-Xavi-Iniesta, but I obviously think that Busi should start the Leonesa match and let Yaya do the big boy work in the league for now. Keeping Busi fresh for January while at the same time getting him the confidence to step in and fill Yaya’s Grand Canyon sized shoes will be a tough psychological battle for Guardiola, but I think he can do it and I think that getting Busi a run in the Copa is the way to do it. We need The Yaya to crush people in Russia, though, so perhaps Busi can play his way into the starting 11 against Osasuna if he does a bang up job against Leonesa.

Official Prediction: I know I’ve been a bit heavy-handed with the victory prognostications recently, but somehow this feels like the one where we break out of our “slump” and just run riot on some fools. 4-0, goals by Messi (2), Ibra, Bojan, and Iniesta. Rock the house, boys and remember, boot on throat, twist. We need ice in our veins for this one and I know we’ve got that in spades.

Game time: 9pm local/Barcelona time. Check your local time here.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Nice preview.

    ‘4-0, goals by Messi (2), Ibra, Bojan, and Iniesta.’

    I don’t know how it’s gonna happen, but I will be impressed.


      So whatever, I meant to remove Bojan from that, but then just added Iniesta. WHATEVER!

  2. ________________VV

    should be the line-up I suppose, Maxwell can do more than just inspiring Abidal to put up his best. And since Puyi is there to help out the supposedly slow CBs we can risk some offense from left flank. That being said I’d like some minutes for Jeffren, so that he’d go to Leonesa with more confidence…
    Subs : Busi for The Yaya
    Jeffren for Messi
    Pedro! for Ibra
    Ibra is finally going to score from a free-kick, yeah you heard it here first! And also a brace for the first time in his Bluered jersey 🙂 Xavi is gonna make for that miss against Ruben & Messi gonna shed of his Maradonna ghost by scoring a goal from a spectacular long-range effort

  3. I have a sneaky feeling Keita will be in the lineup playing in left midfield and iniesta taking up Henry’s position. Keita has been playing phenomenally well and there’s not reason to keep out of the team to accomodate more technical players.. Sure, he’s not as gifted and creative as the xavis and the iniestas but what he more than makes up for it with his grit and muscle. Xavi will play in a much more advanced position.

    The only bother is that we’re going to be missing our 4th attacking man upfront in Alves. puyol will probably play there but we can forget about the perfect crosses coming in for Ibra from the right, which leads me to believe that maxwell has an extremely good chance of playing to compensate for the alves’ absence.

    You just get the feeling that something is brimming at the surface here… i’m going with 4-0 too! messi, xavi, keita and ibra

  4. Sport came up with some interesting facts today; It seems a certain Franck Songo’o who currently plays for Zaragoza has been our youth player & is friends with P!, Pique & Messi
    Didn’t know Pique scored a goal against us while playing for Zaragoza!!!

    1. I don’t mean it’s 6-0-1 despite being American. I list it at W-D-L because that’s the only thing that actually makes any sense. They’re ordered in descending value.

  5. – It will be interesting to try a Puyol-Pique-Abidal-Maxwell defense. I think his pace will help more beside Pique than having another pique-like defender. And dont judge Abi as a CB based on his performance for France. No one perform good there.

    – We are all rightly predicting that Marquez will not start because he had a less impressive game against Rubin. But Pep may decide to pick him exactly for the same reason. Marquez will be motivated to make a reaction and prove something, and benching him may damage some of his moral.

    – Keita didn’t play against Rubin, so I can see him starting. Busquets may start as well. I think if Henry isnt available, and both Xavi and Iniesta are starting anyway, then its better to start Iniesta on the left and have Keita beside Xavi as he can do the more fitness-demanding job saving Xavi and Iniesta fragile legs at the moment.

  6. Oh and regarding the score, Isaiah is right. Officially its 4-0 but the ref disallowed Messi goal claiming he was offside. Replays showed it was a wrong call. Which makes it 5-0 in our books.

    1. Hell yeah! 😛
      Now gear up for some Danny news, we are gonna hear the name more and more now that the Robinho rumors are gonna be sidelined for some time…

  7. 4-0 against Zaragoza for whatever is a bit too much. Their manager Marcelino Toral is in terms of tactics one of the smartest men in Spain. I would not say that 4-0 is impossible but if you predict that kind of result…aehm…

    as a rule of thumb, I would give the advice to follow Bill Simmons. Bill Simmons famously before the Brady Bunch – NYGz Superbowl predicted some kind of slaughter and thought about how he’s going to celebrate the perfect season etc. We know what happened.
    He learned from it later on when he predicted the Lakers to beat the Celtics in the finals, and we know the result. So learn from Bill…

    I mean, my opinion, if you know the score or think to know it, fine, keep it to yourself or go and bet on it, but don’t blow it out as it might come back to haunt you. I think the last 2 games were a hint/reminder from the Fussballgott not to do it anymore 😉

    But anyway, the game will be difficult. Marcelino seems to opt for a 4-4-1-1 system too, which means pressure on Yaya from the half striker, and probably some type of zonal marking against Xavi.
    That’s where I would try to surprise: I’m usually against putting Messi on the bench and I thought that he did better in the last games, but I would definitely start Keite and probably put Xavi on the bench too and start Iniesta in his position. Marking Iniesta out of the game is a bit more difficult, even when he is not at his best now. I would also play Busquets as the 6, because, in theory, he releases the ball quicker, just like Keite. I would play Pedro on the right to make up for the lack of width through Alves when Puyol plays and I would play Maxwell to have 1 attacking fullback.
    So: Victor-Puyi,Piqué,Bilal(Abidal,not the R’nB singer)/Txigrinski,Maxwell-Inieste,Busi,Keite-Pedro,Zlatane,Bojane.

    Subs: depending on progress Messi in for either Pedro, Bojan or Zlatan, Txigrinski/Abidal for Maxwell, Xavi or Yaya for Busi or Keite depending on result.

    1. Didn’t understand whom you chose to play as the 6, Iniesta or Busi?
      But after our match against Almeria my immediate thought was that it would be ideal to play Iniesta as the 6 in such tricky situations, because man-marking Iniesta would be tougher a task than marking Xavi… Hopefully we will get to watch Busi, Iniesta & The Yaya play together some time to give some rest to Xavi. Want to watch The Yaya bombing the opponents goal, Iniesta orchestrating all our moves from mid-field while Busi, keeping it simple, guards the defenders 🙂

    2. No, Busi as the 6.
      Regarding man marking…I think one idea could be to use Xavi in such cases more as a deep lying playmaker like Pirlo at Milan.

  8. Sorry, Isaiah, but not only did Marquez use a shit touch to knock the ball directly to the Rubin Kazan player, but he did it when he had plenty of time to make a proper, hassle-free control. Recall that he had another incident of the same thing this season.

    He also had two other touches that were fraught with peril, with backpasses that didn’t have enough weight on them in the Rubin match. This is in addition to his positional complexities, and clear lack of pace. As for the second goal, he had some culpability. Perhaps if he’s match fit he isn’t as indecisive, but that play was crying for someone to run at Dominguez to give him pause, which gives Abidal and Pique a chance to catch up. Marquez’ indecision means that he in effect does nothing, because he isn’t fast enough to run with Dominguez.

    Do I think he should be run out of town on a rail? No. But I would reserve him for less-important duty, such as Copa stuff. Until he proves otherwise, I don’t think he has it any longer for first-team consideration in real matches. Lucky shot? Maybe. It was close enough to goal where the player decided to have a crack, and rare is the pro-level player that can’t blast a rocket when the ball falls directly to him, right outside the opponent’s box.

    As for this match, the key thing is not to concede. Period. For that reason:

    ————————–The Yaya——————————-

    Subs are Messi for Pedro!, Busquets for Keita and Henry for Iniesta, with about 20mn left, just to get him a little match time/fitness.

    But that back line should be tight. Puyol stays home much more than Alves, and I have no worries about Abidal. Pique and Txigrinski are the Twins, but one has more hair.

    At this point, however, we can’t afford to take any team for granted. I think we did with Rubin Kazan. Now that Cup qualifiers are over for everyone except Henry/Abidal, we can go about the process of becoming the team that we can become, but that will take a while. For now, we have some crap to get out of our systems, particularly Messi. Sort of like sweating out a fever.

  9. the best line up we can use is Valdés; Puyol, Piqué, Chygrynskiy, Maxwell; Xavi, Toure, Keita; Messi, Ibrahimovic, Iniesta.

    I doubt Bojan would start since pep always slowly integrate sum1 back into the team after an injury…..hope everything goes according to plan this time
    I call a 3-0 win

    1. I think Iniesta sucks at LW. We’d be better off with P! or Bojan, since Iniesta drifts to CM.

  10. Balague says we are going to try and sign Villa for LW in the summer.

    Anyway, I think Marquez will start, because if Marquez doesn’t start with Puyol not even being his competition for a place, it would damage him mentally. I think Pep knows this and will start him and give him a chance to redeem himself. I’m hoping for a big win with a clean sheet. Is that too much to ask? I hope not.

    Regards to FIFA 10, my gamertag on Xbox Live is Jnice17, add me if you want to play me. Be very afraid, though. 😀

  11. The Marquez discussion goes on 🙂

    If the shot for the first was to be expected then the nearest player to it was Abidal and he made no attempt to close him down – in fact he half turned his back. Do I blame him? no – it was an absolute one in a hundred shot that nobody expected and it went into the postage stamp. Second goal, if he runs at the man on the ball, Kevin, its an easy sideways pass to the scorer who can’t be played offside as he’s behind him at that point. Our only chance was to do what Marquez did which was to try briefly to stall the first man to allow Pique to have a chance of dealing with him then switch to the other but the pass was just perfect.

    Again, not saying he’s playing well but he isn’t as bad as some are trying to make out and he should improve as he gets match fit. Don’t buy that Puyol is any quicker than him either – although the possibility of an impossible saving tackle from ten feet behind the guy is always a possibility with Puyol !

    1. even great players have mis-touches some times. nobody plays soccer error-free. the better players have better touches more often. so, marquez’ gaff is nothing to get worked up about, and if you slam him for it, you are taking things for granted or not understanding a certain element of football. what happens much less often, i.e. (statistically speaking) what is way farther out on the tails of the distribution curve, is the shot that the kazan player made into the corner of the goal, running on to the ball, first touch.

      so, in my mind, marquez is easily forgiven. the rubin player is to be applauded. he wont make that shot again in a competitive match in his career. he probably wont even make that shot again in practice.

      chalk it up to “that’s soccer.” marquez has his moments but i dont begrudge him this one.

      i do think he is probably rusty.

  12. Disagree. As painful as it might be, watch the goals again (and I do mean painful). Conceding goals is always a team effort, but “garbage in, garbage out,” as the saying goes. The first started with Marquez, the second with Krkic. But if the defender makes Dominguez pause, it gives Abidal that extra second or two to get there. As it was, Marquez just ran around in circles while Dominguez ran up and made the pass in a simple, easy motion.

    Besides, other players have been pilloried for lesser transgressions. Marquez shouldn’t be any different. Anybody who screws up, gets it. The difference is that he hasn’t been on song for a while, and the ascendancy of Pique and the arrival of Txigrinski makes his presence, for me, superfluous.

    Lucky shot? Maybe. But the best way to avoid lucky shots is to not be sloppy with the ball. Last year, we weren’t. This year, we are. Complacency? Perhaps. Overconfidence? Absolutely. As the match commentator said, we were trying to get fancy, and got caught out. Control the ball, and make the simple pass. The end. If that dictum is followed, we win that match 1-0.

    At present, everyone is trying to be too pretty, in an attempt to garner of the press superlatives that they got so used to hearing last season. So instead of trapping the ball at his feet and making the simple pass to finish off possession and the half, Busquets tries a fancy header pass that falls directly to the opposition’s attacker. Bang. Goal.

    I don’t mind a loss. They’re good for a side every now and again. It’s the errors that bum me out. It’s why I like what Puyol does so much. He’s a simple, direct player. Yes, he’s lost a step. Yes, he can scurry around too much in his fireman role, and get caught out of position. But he understands: Control the ball, and get rid of it in the simplest, most direct was possible. Txigrinski also understands that, as does Abidal (finally).

    1. “Anybody who screws up, gets it. The difference is that he hasn’t been on song for a while”

      yeah, He’s been injured since the Chelsea match, missed the entirety of pre-season, has done 2-3 sub-on appearances, and probably shouldn’t have started yet. That’s Guardiola’s fault not Marquez’s.

      Same thing with Iniesta, has been injured, a severa of sub-ons, and a start or two. He hasn’t been setting the world a blaze either.

      Now I’d ussually be the last person to criticize Iniesta to make a point, but I think defenders get worse criticism because their errors are more apparent on the score line. If we blame Marquez’s error for the first goal for Rubin, than we should equally blame xavi, iniesta, Pedro!, Ibra and Messi for us not putting up 4.

      Its also not fair to come down so hard on someone who clearly wasn’t ready to start a Champion’s League Match against the Reigning Russian Champions.

      And yes, I believe you did mention that Pep dropped the ball with the squad selection, but I think the exaggerated rating facilitated the collective scapegoating from the heard here.

  13. Yeah, one loss and a draw in around 10 games played is pretty good. I think it’s a compliment that people have such high expectations for this team. It’s up to Guardiola to keep that pressure in check, and I think he is good at that.

    Having said that, I think Barca players should work hard at getting that quick first goal, within the first 15 minutes of play. This is what we did very well last year in most of those high scoring-gameoverbyhalftime games. Teams usually take about 10-15minutes of running around before they start parking the bus and start organizing themselves defensively. This is when we should hit them. Nothing like ripping a teams’ game plan to shreds before it’s put into place. If we do that, the 4-0 is very possible because they gotta come out and play.

  14. Puyol might not be faster, but he shows urgency, its like rafa is always in sleep mode.Hes always casual.Even when he was our best defender for that period last year, he managed to gift Drogba a chance in the semi 1st leg before he got injured, luckily VV saved our bacon.

    1. Isaiah’s Twitter informs me that it is 9-man Mallorca…

      i must have missed something…

    2. Ivan Ramis got a second yellow in the 51st minute before Forlan’s penalty put them up 1-0. That was the second penalty Forlan had after a red was handed out…but only the first he put on frame.

      Atleti is making us all look like fools for picking them to not go down, much less call them getting a CL spot. What gives?

    3. I have to admit that I stopped watching for 30-minutes to catch last night’s episode of The Soup.

  15. Don’t forget Maxwell, his time is due to play. So if Alves is out on the right, then it makes sense to start Maxwell on the left.

    1. That’s true, Eduard. I was putting Maxwell in the Leonesa lineup, though I suppose there’s no reason to think that he can’t start two matches in a row.

    2. i want to see maxwell play too opposite puyi but if you were pep would you take off your most in form defender(abidal) to throw in a benchwarmer?

  16. I just re-watched those highlights, and I honestly can’t blame Marquez for those goals. Maybe 20% for the first goal. It was a goal kick that he attempted to bring down and pass to a teammate, but miss-controlled it. It happens in soccer all the time, especially if you are coming off a long lay-off, it’s expected. And you know what? The defense was set and 99% of the time that mistake goes unpunished. Instead of blaming Marquez, I’ll praise the Kazan striker. That was hell of a one-timed shot! Incredible, unstoppable and very lucky i might add.

    For the second goal, a Kazan player extends his leg and luckily toe-pokes Bojans ball off it’s path and into the path of his teammate. Meanwhile, the ball somehow avoids The Yaya’s sliding attempt to reach it. The Kazan player lays it off to his teammate just as Marquez turns around to see where the ball is. This teammate then one-times it perfectly past Valdez. No, I cannot blame Marquez for those goals AT ALL! It was just that kinda day. Kazan were lucky to win and they know it. Games like that, you don’t blame defenders, you just say, Great job Kazan!

    1. Yes, bill, but if we don’t scapegoat someone, then we have to admit that we sucked as a team. (Oh NO!)

      However, we can just say that the team played excellently and both goals were 100%, no. 110%, Marquez’s fault, and once we remove him, we will be all-powerful again. And now we can sleep better at night.


      I think everything has been taken out of proportion.

      We are having a little bit of a red-scare. Our results stuttered, and suddenly fingers are being pointed.

      No. We are not in a crisis.
      No. We don’t need to offload ANYONE.
      Yes. We need to buy a reinforcement or two.
      Yes. We are suffering from injuries, and their long-term effects on rhythm and form both to the recovering player, and to the collective squad.

      But lets keep our heads.

    2. I’ll be sure to come check with you kind, generous souls when I’m after donations for something. 😀

      Meanwhile, I repeat. Simple, direct football. Get fancy AWAY from your box.

    1. Dude, Hudson just orgasmed to Kaka’s shot

      OH FUCK NO… he just called Kaka’s shot “andrea pirlo” style. As one of my favorite players, that doesn’t sit well with me…

    1. Quite well, actually. Could have scored a couple of times, but they appear to be falling into that “we don’t score against RM” thing that so many teams do. Why, I don’t know, but given one-on-ones with Casillas I feel like they should score more often than they actually end up hitting the target. I guess they panic.

    2. “de las Cuevas has Marcelon for breakfast” – Hudson

      almost had Casillas too, but Casillas gets a hand to the shot

  17. I’m catching up with my “Monk” episodes. Second-best show on TV after “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

    Meanwhile, what has come over Fox Soccer? They’re showing United/Liverpool and Arsenal on the same day? No PPV?

    1. i know. thanks rupert murdoch. the valencia game starts half way through the arsenal game though.

      east bound & down. best. show. ever.

      i watched the 1st 2 seasons of cxyxex when it first came out & then just stopped watching it for no apparent reason. i just recently caught the “seinfeld” episode. i didn’t even know they were divorced.

    2. I liked the first season of Monk, but I think the show’s quality diminished after that.

      Clearly the best shows on TV are Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Chuck, The Office, Community. Heroes made a comeback. Flashforward good so far.

      And… ooo, looking forward to ManU v Pool. i hope i don’t work during the match.

    3. i can’t stand the u.s. version of the office. it’s just an americanized cartoon of the bbc version. sorry.

      now vander vaart’s playing? jeez.

  18. I still like the idea of playing Abidal as a centre back until Chygrynskiy is back 100%. Abidal is our most on form player, possibly bar Valdes, and should be starting. Maxwell will give us far more going forward and we really do need attacking width on the left because we have been kind of toothless down that side recently.

    Iniesta is not where he needs to be but isn’t far from it. I like the idea of Xavi-Yaya-Iniesta having another start or two before the big matches start, but Keita has been very consistent all season and Xavi could do with a rest.

    My XI:
    Puyol | Pique | Abidal | Maxwell
    Iniesta | Yaya | Keita
    Jeffren | Ibra | Bojan

    I’m not taking Zaragoza lightly or anything but I’d rather have ammunition in reserve than shooting blanks and having nothing as a backup. Xavi, Messi, Henry & Pedro are all potential difference makers off the bench.
    The XI is definitely solid enough not to concede and has lots of width down the right with Jeffren and Maxwell on the left and both Bojan and Keita can get into the box to support Ibra.

    My prediction: A comfortable 2-0 with Ibra and Bojan getting on the scoreline

  19. they took off drenthe for guti-has? oh my. the flanks is where sporting is attacking from. ;v/

  20. This game has had me on the edge of my seat… The match is begging for a goal 🙁 But great chances are coming from both sides.


  21. Oh c’mon, Kxevin, I know you highland park peeps are very good with charitable events, and I suspect you are a big part of that! Some charity for Marquez pleeease! Haha. But I agree Marquez could have slowed down the attack for scond goal. But if he tried to and missed the ball, wouldn’t we all be saying…Dumb fool, why did you stop?

    You gotta love Entourage. I like two and a half men too.

    By the way people, check out Michael Vicks new show on BET at 106 & Bark! 😉

  22. we go to the mestalla and get a 0-0 draw, real mierda goes to gijon and gets a 0-0 draw. i’ll take that any day.

    madrid miss crynaldo no doubt.

  23. i was half expecting casillas to run up the field and straight gangsta a goal to win 1-0 at the death, then say “you guys suck. do i have to do everything around here?”

  24. Looking at their fixtures they have Geta, Pateticos , Racing then us .Hopefully they drop a few more and we smash them at Camp nou leaving Pelle without a job :D. We have Osasuna,Mallorca and Atletic BTW.The 2 trips to Osasuna and Athletic should be tough, but lets start with 3 points tommorow hopefully.

    1. Maybe Pelle will commit the seppuku “We can’t beat Barcelona” right before the match?

      Damn I do NOT want to miss El Clasico!

    2. Btw, if this helps, it seems that GolTV will be airing El Clasico (not ESPN), so if you have to catch it somewhere it has to be somewhere with GolTV (can’t just be any bar).

  25. If we win tomorrow’s match, then I won’t care who they buy in January… Not even for Gerrard 😛

    1. If we win tomorrow, we go 3 ahead. If somehow we can get 7 points on them before El Clasico, we never have to look back.

      Right now, we don’t have to focus on any other teams but ourselves. However, same could be said of Real Madrid and Sevilla. If we can get 7 points ahead (not too likely 😛 ) then we have figuratively taken the season out of their hands, i.e. they could win every game and still lose La Liga to us 🙂

  26. Watched as much as I could stomach. One play, where Ramos was running full tilt boogie with the ball, demonstrated what I’m talking about, BTW. The Gijon defender moved toward him a bit, just to make him check his run, which was enough to help the defense close down. It’s a little thing. It also helped that the Gijon defender was alert and facing the play.

    So, the red-and-whites took a point. This is excellent. Now all that we have to do is take care of business. Kaka looked like crap the bit that I watched. Was that a consistent pattern all match long?

  27. Seville does have the best wingers in the business right now. If their forwards start showing up more, id be worried. Agreed about commentator. He is much better than the normal team.

  28. Pareja sent off for Espanyol. Being at home and a man up for +30 minutes, a draw here would really be “dropped points” for Sevilla.

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