Onward Blaugrana Legions: Leonesa-Barça

Copa del Rey Preview: Cultural Leonesa – Barça, Wednesday 5pmEST (check your local time here)

Update! Update! This match will take place at 5pmEST, not 4pm as previously stated! Damned time changes in Spain I didn’t know about…

Cathedral of León (Wikimedia)
Cathedral of León (Wikimedia)

In the year 68, an aging general named Servius Sulpicius Galba levied a legion and marched on Rome, where he took over the Roman Empire from Nero, the emperor who had appointed Galba as governor of Hispania Tarraconensis only seven years before.

Galba’s reign was brief and ended violently: he was murdered only six months after taking the throne and most have forgotten his name. The city he left behind on his way to Roman obscurity is alive and well, its legacy cemented in its architecture and its place in history secure.

Founded by Legio septima Gemina (Seventh Twin Legion), the legion Galba used to take the Roman throne, León sits in northern Spain, in the shadows of the Cantabrian Mountains along the northern coast. It is a relatively small city (metro pop 200,000), but it is packed with history and culture.

Once the seat of tremendous power during the Kingdom of León’s heyday in the eleventh century, the kingdom slowly succumbed to a political alliance with Castilla, though the official name of the region remained the Kingdom of León until 1833. On October 19, 1469 the history of the region changed course as Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabela of Castilla y León, leading to the eventual unification of Spain by the grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

Modern León is no longer the home of powerful lords who control gold mining routes or command Roman legions, but it is still a beautiful and visit-worthy place, if the pictures and descriptions are anywhere near truthful. The catedral de Santa María de Regla (pictured above) was started in the 8th century and remains a beautiful reminder of the architectural grandeur of the time period. There are also much more modern buildings done by Antoni Guadí, among others, lending the city a blended atmosphere.

If I ever visit León, I know that one of the first things I will do is get myself a heaping plateful of cecina and frosty mug of beer and go to town on both of them. There’s nothing quite like a big plate of “could be horsemeat” to really whet the appetite, eh?

Cecina de León (Wikimedia)
Cecina de León (Wikimedia)

In León in 1923, a small football team was founded and named Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa. They bounced around the Spanish professional leagues for a while, spending the 1956-57 season in La Liga, ending up 15th and being relegated (there were fewer teams in the top flight then). They have not been above the Segunda B since they were relegated from the Segunda at the end of the 1974-75 season. Last year the ended up second in Group 1 of the Segunda B, 5 points adrift of RM’s copa killers, Real Unión. During the promotion playoffs Leonesa was eliminated by Catalan team Sabadell 1-2 on aggregate (1-1 and 0-1).

This year, however, they sit in 17th after 10 matches, in the 4-team relegation zone, having amassed only 10 points with a record of 2W-4D-4L (9GF 14GA). They come into this match hoping for a victory like Real Unión achieved last year, but facing a team that is far better than anyone they have faced before. I won’t even attempt to guess how they will approach this match, personnel-wise, but I can imagine they will try to play the counter game against us, pulling 15 behind the ball until the ref catches on and forces their four extra players off the field. There’s no Nero fiddling in Catalunya, I can assure you that, unless it’s Daniel Sánchez Llibre, but I’m not sure his empire counts as such…

There is, of course, another team that will be on the field tomorrow opposite Leonesa and that team, while watered down, will be looking to impose itself on the game in typical fashion: strangle the other team by holding the ball in a pass-and-move manner, finding space, and never relenting with their own pressing game.

The lineup will look strange, though, for those of you used to the major names being out there. The squad list is: Valdés, Pinto, Iván Benítez, Chygrynskiy, Márquez, Fontas, Abidal, Maxwell, The Yaya, Jonathan dos Santos, Busi, Gai Assulin, Keita, Pedro!, Jeffren, Bojan, and Jonathan Soriano.

If you don’t know some of those names, it’s okay, I don’t either, but that’s what the Internet is for.

  1. Iván Benítez – 21-year old central defender from the Canary Islands. He’ll be wearing #37.
  2. Andreu Fontàs – 19-year old central defender from Banyoles, Catalunya. He has made one previous appearance for the first team. He’ll be wearing #32.
  3. Jonathan dos Santos – 19-year old midfielder from Monterrey, Mexico. He’ll be wearing #28.
  4. Gai Assulin – 18-year old winger/attacking midfielder from Nahariya, Israel. He’ll be wearing #31.
  5. Jonathan Soriano – 24-year old striker from Barcelona. He’s played professionally in lower leagues while on loan at Almeria, Poli Ejido, and Albacete and he’s played in La Liga under Espanyol, making 36 appearances for them and scoring 3 goals. He’ll be wearing #36.

Note that this means that the following players were left behind in Barcelona: Messi, Ibra, Xavi, Iniesta, Piqué, and Puyol. That’s a hefty group of players to leave out, especially with Alves and Henry missing through injury. Even so, if you look at the lineups, it will sound like men against boys, though the “boys” may be the heavyweights with the upper hand in the end.

My predicted lineup: Pinto, Fontàs, Márquez, Chygrynskiy, Maxwell, Busi, JDS, Gai, Pedro!, Bojan, Jeffren.

That’s a weak lineup, of course, in that we have no real veterans up front, but, without Messi, Henry, and Ibra, we really don’t have veterans. Pedro! and Bojan are more than capable of carving out some goals when given the opportunity, which means that Gai and JDS behind them will have to hold the fort and Busi will have to be solid and help them to distribute the ball. I think JDS would do better in the Xavi role and Gai better in the Iniesta role. However, if Guardiola thinks that he wants more solidity, he can replace either one with Keita and let the young one play the Xavi. I think our front line is pretty well set, though, since we’ve got too few options and while he’s older and slightly more experienced than Jeffren, I don’t think that dropping Soriano in would be fair to Final Fantasy, who has shown he’s capable, on his day, of torching a wingback or two. That Soriano is a towering man mountain compared to those three because he’s a monstrous 5’11” (1.80cm) is perhaps worth thinking about…He’s scored 5 times in 8 appearances for Barça Atletic, after all, but I’m still betting our future on P!, FF, and Banjo Crickets rather than on him.

Not that Messi is getting too old or anything…

Official Prediction: 1-1, goal by Bojan. I think that despite being vastly out-resourced, under-talented, and out-metal-haired, Leonesa will find a way to bag a goal thanks in part to our disjointed squad that hasn’t played together before. Oy vey, as my lady’s people would say, but as my people would say: “Ya’ll come on down to the Camp Nou, y’hear? We’ll fix ya’lls a nice supper of comeuppance.” There will be some gorgeous moments of free-flowing football, but I don’t expect too much out of the youngsters, even when coupled with veterans. It’ll remain up to us in the Camp Nou to get things done.

A note about TV: this match does not appear to be scheduled for being televised on American TV. I checked all the usual suspects and GolTV has a replay of Sevilla-Espanyol scheduled, while FSC and FSE are showing midweek Seria A action (Napoli v Milan), and ESPN Deportes are showing Jorge Ramos y su Banda (a sports talk show) that they occasionally preempt for actual football. I’ll be checking in there when the time comes to find out if they’re actually going to show the CDR match, but I wouldn’t rely on it. Go for the usual internet streams, if you want to be sure of seeing it live.

A note about format: This is the Copa del Rey Round of 32, meaning that the winner after home and away matches goes on to the Round of 16 where there will be another draw to determine opponents. This is also far from being the first round of matches in the CDR, it’s just that La Liga teams get byes into the Round of 32 thanks to their elite status. Check out Wikipedia’s coverage of the current tournament here.

And because getting hyped is part and parcel of my life and you can never be too hyped (Warning: megahypeness headed directly your way!):

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

The Yaya will crush you with his random, awesome purplish-blue shoulder lights You have no idea! Even from the bench he can put a stranglehold on a match. Just look at what happened to Zaragoza!

By Isaiah

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


  1. i think we recruited Chygrnxityxrxtynntzy from the same cave as puyol. they look like they could be father and son.

  2. This is perfect for us. Pep will show his guys the tape of this game. After the laughter dies down, he will then calmly ask: “what did we learn today, children?”

    His obedient pupils will reply: “Never underestimate Copa teams.”

    Pep: “Thus endeth the lesson.”

    Better to learn from their mistakes than ours.

    1. haha 😀 I also want to attend Pep’s school!

      Even if we lose tomorrow, it’s not with our A-Teamers and I doubt in general that we can lose by such a margin against a 3rd division side, despite considering that the Copa has its own rules.

    2. I think the hardest part would be for all of them to hold on to the laughters!! including, maybe Pep himself! LOL

  3. If anybody got some highlight videos of the Alcorcon fans chanting, rushing the field and Florentino Perez’ face during this match, please post them!
    I’ve already created a folder named “Madrid disaster – evidence” and it is waiting for some input 🙂

  4. Valdano apparently came down from his seat and went into the RM locker room at half time. Guti was also visibly pissed for being subbed for Gago at the half as per Marca.

  5. By the way, this has been a derby, Alcorcon is a suburb of Madrid!

    Let’s see how they’ll do in their next derby against Getafe CF.

  6. more than the loss, es mucho el desgaste, this will serve us well….

    i think it might actually be better to have B-teamers out there in this type of match, ready to impress, rather than complacent superstars…

  7. I’m sad, we no longer have a rival… madrid doesn’t exist 😉

    madrid se queeeema – se quema madriiiiid

  8. AS.com has the Cadena Ser audios of the 4 goals:

  9. If you’re ever feeling down…


    Full Match 😀

  10. I am giggling in glee over this 😀

    Madrid fan reaction is going to be: “OMG guys, that was embarassing, I always told you now we have to buy Player X, Player Y and Player Z. I always knew it, we didn’t reinforce enough this summer, we have to replace our defense, look at Club X, they have great defense, if we can buy all their defenders WEEL BE UNSTOPPABLE. What you guys think? HALA MADRID!”

    1. jaja, look I know I enjoy misery a bit too much sometimes, but take this money quote from the Real Madrid Offside blog:

      “I’m pretty sure that this team [Real Madrid] will run its heart out had alex ferguson been its coach or even pep guardiola”

  11. Biggest LMAO courtesy of BS.com : on the min-by-min pre-kick off:

    “Real Madrid are in a no-win situation as they head to local neighbours Alcorcon and have named a strong team in order to avoid embarrassment. Follow the action on Goal.com.”

    “While the hosts have a team equipped to try and win promotion from Spain’s third tier, the visitors have millions of pounds worth of international talent on the pitch.”

  12. you worked the spanish war of succession into a fucking preview? you’re nuts isaiah.

    i hope to work in the real madrid match before i get blitzed & watch “where the wild things are.” giving me a pan’s labyrinth vibe.

  13. i forgot to add i don’t think gai’ll play the iniesta role. he’s more likely to play lw. maybe omit pedro for him and put in maxwell or keita?

    1. According to Sport. Benitez has played right back before (he is right footed)but is a natural CB. Interestingly, we wanted Montoya or Bartra but they were not available. Apparently there is some international competition going on and the federation would not let them go. So Benitez is actually a third choice Barca Athletic right fullback.

      Also, Pep says that both Maxwell and Abidal can play on the right if the need arises.

  14. Hey all, I’m just letting you know that this match will be at 5pmEST, not 4pmEST because of the recent time change in Spain. My bad or not knowing that.

    I updated the post as well as putting this info here.

  15. Love the photo of Banjo & Yaya, Isaiah.

    In other news, at least one FIFA director is not a corrupt whore. We regularly get into discussions about deliberate/vicious fouls and refereeing…this is worth a look:


    1. Okay now this is just for fun, to go into little details & have some discussions… How about Mauro Zárate, the Argentinian from Lazio? I’ll tell some of his very good positives; He’s got very good close control(I mean too good!), he’s got good pace, extremely powerful shot, takes on defenders with ease & he’s already been successful in both EPL & Seria A(which means the risk factor is considerably small 😉 )
      P.S. I’m not denying that his presidents recent words got me into thinking about this possibility!!!
      We actually inquired about him around same time last year!

    2. as a cheap stop gap w/la liga experience and buddies from sevilla, i don’t really mind him.

  16. Could some body help me find good quality highlights of Alcorcon, the kings of the Madrid, match? unfortunately the only football site fbtz didn’t yet upload… Those guys are not uploading Barca highlights as well. So frustrating to miss matches and highlights as well 🙁

  17. Got a link if some one’s interested, not great quality though

  18. _________________Pinto

    Soriano for Jeffren
    Gai for JDS
    Fontas for Dima

  19. Man oh man. The vultures are out. This is tomorrow’s Marca cover: http://www.marca.com/multimedia/primeras/09/10/1028.html

    The headline reads:


    “Pellegrini leads Madrid to historic shame against a Seguna B side. He is not fired…yet”

    Considering how they got Schuster, Mijatovic, and Calderon fired; when Marca turns against you and you work for Real Madrid then your chances of survival are not exactly great.

    1. Just as we all know, they shift blames and embarrassment to the coach to make themselves feel a little off the burden. what a suck club.

    2. In most other clubs players,coaches,and everyone involved win together and loose together; In madrid they win together and blame their loss on one.

    3. Have you seen the upper-right corner where it says “Villa fired his manager for not taking him to madrid?”

      they never stop!

  20. WOW…I watched the entire match of Alcorcon v. EE and that was a hell of a game by the minnows. I have never seen a side RUN, and RUN, and RUN like that! Every time EE touched the ball, 2-4 yellow shirts swarmed around it…INCREDIBLE. And how many times did they turn the ball over? None that I could recount. Alcorcon went for the jugular every time. Impressive. It was like what Valencia did to us but way more intense and much faster and accurate passing (probably due to the fact that their insane running led them to beating the EE to more chances). You could tell in the second half Alcorcon were running out of gas, settling often for plowing the ball out of play.

    Of course Pellegrini gets the blame. That’s futbol. Coaches are fired faster than any other sport on the planet. How does the NFL still have all of its head coaches this year when several teams are still winless almost halfway through the season. La Liga? 8 weeks out of 38, Resino fired, Pellegrini possibly next due to the media. I don’t see what changes he could make, seeing as FloFlo is the one calling all of the shots. My only question is this: Is Pellegrini better off “managing” EE with no command, getting fired from coaching EE with a good record (19/24 possible points), or having stayed at Villareal? If he keeps his pay, getting fired may be the best thing to happen to his whole career.

    1. I don’t think Pellegrini should get the blame or fired, the problem are the players that are not blending and there’s too much ego! wtf!
      Guti was sub at 51′ and he was complaining to the coach. It was like dude you are not doing shit and you are being marked by 4 players from time to time.

  21. i think it would be cool to see somebody do a break down of one of the goals against madrid. kinda like how we had one after that man city game.

    1. Oh my gosh. That would be a bit cruel,would it not?

      Besides, the explanation is rather simple. In two out of the four goals (second and third), it went something like: Drenthe gets caught upfield and too inside and leaves a highway’s worth of space on their left wing through which Alcorcon launches a counter. Their winger barges in, makes the right decision, and crosses into the box. A goal then results be it by Albiowngoal’s hand or because Arbeloa lost his man as well.

      In the first goal, Drenthe also got owned and then Diarra got his waist broken by this Borja dude who has as many goals against Madrid as Messi does (6) while playing for VERY small teams. We need to sign this guy up on a one game loan and just use him as a super sub in el Clasico.

    2. lol, 6 goals from Borja against Real Madrid? Did he play for Real Union last season or what? 🙂

  22. It’s funny to see Madrid flounder after spending 250M Euros but Barca have a game tomorrow and I’m far more concerned about how the mix and match team will play together.

    I know we have the advantage of playing one system throughout our ranks and all the players ‘know’ what they must do. Playing a mix match team vs a team that has nothing to lose and experience playing together always makes me nervy. Seeing how RM got taken to the cleaners like this just makes me more nervous.

    I hope our possession game holds up.

  23. To be a little more sober, I really do hope that this makes it outside of European football news feeds. It is a great story, that a small team resoundingly defeated the wealthiest football cub in the world, working with a QUARTER OF A PERCENT of the money that its opponent had.

    I think it would have great appeal to a lot of people that don’t even follow sports that much.

  24. I have two words for anyone getting too giddy at the EE’s misfortune: Rubin Kazan.

    In many eyes, that’s a more thrilling upset. And they did in our house!

    Oh, and there probably won’t be a review, since crappy Web feeds aren’t my idea of a party.

    1. Dear Jose, you miss the point:

      best team in the galaxy:costliest team on the planet = lost (1-2) : lost (4-0)

      Kxevin is talking in The YAYA terms!

    2. Rubin Kazan is the champion of Russia 2 years running. We played quite well. The scored 1 great goal and 1 mistake by us. We scored a great goal as well. Then on the weekend we came back with a vengeance. Our loss was higher profile, but I have confidence that we will qualify.

      Real playing with a full team (missing a few top players) lost 4-0 to a 3rd division side with a 3000 person stadium. That’s like Chelsea (without Drogba and Lampard) losing 4-0 to Oxford United.

      For me, its not just that they last 4-0, but it could have been more, and Real didn’t even try that hard even after going down 2-0.

      Real will probably win the return 5-0, but its still high comedy.

  25. I don’t think Pellegrini will be too upset after this result and might take it as an improvement. After all didn’t he lose 5-0 to Polideportivo last year?

    1. Well… I’m pretty sure Flo-Flo and Pellegrini don’t give a rat’s ass about the CDR, If they fail in La Liga, and CL, and only win the CDR, that would be a disgrace for them.

      If they win the League and the CL, the CDR will be a small detail.
      Plus, the longer they stay in the CDR, the more matches he has during tougher parts of the upcomming schedule.

      So I’m figuring that Pellegrini doesn’t much care about it. Not that he intentionally would throw it, but at least didn’t show the lads any gladiator videos to prep for it.

      But then again, if anything i said was logical, why wouldn’t he just send the Castilla kids?

    2. Pellegrini and the club itself has a different opinion about it:


      I think they desperately want to win the treble, at any costs, just because they cannot bear that Barca is the only team that has ever won it!
      They certainly want to take the CDR serious this time.

  26. i think this match was “aranged” to end like this. think about it. what were the ods for the match to end like this ?? bwin + real madrid vs alcorcon 0-4 = a lot off money !!

    1. interesting….

      like if Alcorcon agreed to win 4-0 and lose 5-0 at the bernabeu, in exchange for more money than they make in a decade…

      i suppose anything is possible… especially when a lot of money is being thrown around, although with this theory, Madrid would be costing its own fans A LOT of money.

  27. What makes game so special:
    This is the only game of Barca against a Spanish team not being a final Spain’s prime minister and Barca fan Jose Luis Zapatero(in short ZP) is allowed to watch in the stadium, because it’s his hometown. Because Barca being politically difficult, he is not allowed to watch any Barca games in Camp Nou because it would cost him even more popularity in Spain, although I really gotta say that he is one of the better people in European politics, not only because he is culé.

    And Gai Assulin is more of a mediopunta and I can’t see him play in central midfield. Fontas also is not a rightback but centerback only, so I expect Benitez to play there, who plays rightback for Barca Atletic. So probably both Yaya and Busi will play.

  28. Yes, Rubin Kazan are reigning Russian champions, but people dismiss Russia and the Ukraine as shit leagues when players from those respective entitites are under discussion.

    All I’m saying is I think that karma works in funny ways, and that our guard should be up. Big time. Both big Spanish sides have egg on their faces. Ours is mostly washed away. Taking care of business today and this weekend, then away to Rubin, would leave us baby-fresh. 😀

    1. Baby-fresh. I like that. You’re right about the nature of upsets, but, you know… let’s try to enjoy the good ones with the bad 😛

      (Also, didn’t mean to be snappy, I was pressed for time, hehe.)

  29. This is awesome I get to read about my team and learn a history lesson at the same time 🙂 well done.

  30. Anybody know where I can watch a non downloadable version of this game? sorry my laptop is a piece of crap

  31. Banjo Crickets! Yes!

    Barca 3-0 at least, lineup strength be damned. I can see it being lower (10% chance), but certainly Leonesa will not score, unless Marquez allows them to.

  32. i am rying to understand this false number 9 thing. (1) is a player like ronaldinho a false 9? (2) but ibra is a true 9? (3) but when our CF swaps with messi and messi plays in the middle, he is a false 9? (4) is that because he doesnt hang around the defensive line of the opposition waiting for the ball like ibra sometimes does? (5) because he is always tracking back to get the ball, start the play and then finish it too. (6) was keita a false 9 against zaragoza?

    sorry for all the questions, i numbered them for convenience.

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