No Time For Pandas: Osasuna – Barcelona

Liga Preview: Osasuna-Barcelona, Saturday 2pmET

Osasuna? You want to talk about Osasuna? Okay, sure, I suppose I have the time for that. I remember the games of old, when it was mud and fog and Messi scoring golazos. I would probably remember the 8-0 we laid on them at the Camp Nou earlier had I been able to watch, but alas, I was cavorting in Hanoi, Vietnam and had no time to watch matches at 4am or whatever the time difference made it. I remember sitting at the laptop provided by my lovely hotel (which is just a straight up classy move) and looking up the scores the following day.

An actual conversation (though perhaps not exact quotes):

Me: Holy smokes.
Mrs. The Lady: What? [puts on concerned face]
Me: Barça just won 8-0 nothing!
MTL: Wow, that’s amaz–[puts on annoyed face] I mean, who cares?
Me: Messi got a hat trick!
MTL: Should we have phở for lunch?
Me: Villa got two. That’s called a brace in England; I assume for asinine reasons.
MTL: We could head over to that bún bò place we saw.
: They scored an own goal.
: Ha, that was dum–I mean, [puts on angry face] phở or not?
Me: Fine, fine, pho it is. Hey, how come I can’t say it with the nifty Vietnamese letters?
: [puts on troll face] Poor genetic material.
: 🙁

That was back when life was good (except for that pesky 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad) and we were absolutely obliterating teams at the Camp Nou (except for that pesky 0-0 draw with Sevilla). And now, now that we are being manhandled by various opposition away from home (except for the 1-4 win at Malaga), well, this one should prove tough. Osasuna, though, haven’t won since a December 18 at home to Villarreal. They’ve lost to Racing Santander and Atletico Madrid while they’ve drawn against Real Sociedad, Valencia, and most recently Sporting Gijon. 3 points out of 15 isn’t exactly the way to maintain your Europa League status and, as you would expect, they’ve slipped from 5th at the New Year to 9th.

The squad list: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Cesc, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Thiago, Mascherano, Pedro, Adriano, Abidal, Alexis, Cuenca, Dos Santos, Roberto, Tello

Pedro is back (hopefully with his ! in tow), but Busquets has remained sidelined, meaning we’ll obviously bring back Romeu and buy Bale as well as clone a cheaper Yaya. Tello should start because he’s simply better than Cuenca right now. Iniesta might or might not start, depending on health and Pep’s willingness to risk him ahead of a Champions League clash…you know what? Who cares, let’s play:

Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Mascherano, Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc, Messi, Tello.

This is how it must be. Guardiola says we will fight, so fight we must. There is no time for fatigue. There is no time for escaping pandas. Wait, yes there is!

Official Prediction: 0-4. Cause we play ball this day.

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. Haha, and I thought Isaiah’s prediction was illusional 😀

      This is Pamplone, Basque Country, and even if our recent record at the Navarra is quite good, a close win is a likely result.
      In fact, since 2006/07, they have lost by 3 goals thrice: Against EE and us in la Liga, and against Racing in the CdR. I am too lazy to click through the match history in order to find a home defeat with 4 goals or more, I could imagine it has never happened at all.

    2. It’s not his fault. Jive Ass hasn’t been right since he absconded with the BFB corporate AMEX. A brain can take only so much debauch before …. well …. you know. sigghhhh

      Ethan is just flush with the optimism of youth. 😀

  1. nzm – responded to your excellent point about the impact of promotions on the b team in the last thread. It’s a really important point. Critical to the organization.

    1. I realize he’s been playing more recently especially since the promotions – but at his age he should have been playing more extensively and been doing so since the start of the season.

      It’s not only the number of games he’s playing in – it’s the total minutes he’s gotten.

      And I’m not just referring to the past couple of month.

      A major part of my concern is the planning and coordination of these promotions.

      If Tello and Cuenca didn’t happen to get promoted (which few could have anticipated at the start of the season) then I think Deulofeu wouldn’t be getting many minutes now.

      Now maybe I’m entirely wrong here and this was always the plan. But my sense is that he’s playing now largely out of unforeseen circumstances. That to me isn’t particularly good planning.

      And as an example of this – Deulofeu could have just wound up like Espinosa if the first team didn’t suffer so many injuries along the front line.

      Deulofeu’s playing time is now fine – but I didn’t particularly like how it evolved.

      With players that young and that talented I’d hope there is a concrete plan prior to the season that going to ensure that they get enough minutes for them to progress. Of course there has to be flexibility to any plan but there should be a prioritization.

      It shouldn’t be left up to the happenstance of the first team injury situation.

      Again, I don’t have any first hand knowledge of what goes on obviously. I could be completely wrong and this may have been the plan all along. Start him out slowly and then give him more time come the middle of the season.

      But I don’t get the sense that there was. He wasn’t playing regularly for a significant period of time. I think his minutes are largely a product of needs due to injuries.

      Again – just look at what’s happened to Espinosa. At his age he should not be sitting the bench as much as he is. If you’re not going to give him minutes with the B team he should have still been playing with Juvenil A and been called up for some games on the B team when you know he is going to play. Sitting the bench is not going to make him better.

      His playing time is the function of

    2. Thanks, Euler.

      We saw tonight more promotion of the youngsters before their time.

      Sergi Roberto will have nightmares about this game for months to come, and it will probably do his game head no good at all.

  2. Should have posted this in the last post written by Kxevin.. But anyways..

    – This is a very good post on the relative superiority of Victor Valdes over Iker Casillas in the stakes for the best goalkeeper in Spain. I had followed and tracked shot saving %s for both keepers the past couple of years and found that Valdes had a decent advantage over Casillas, but the above post is more well rounded and makes a very sound case for recognition for Valdes. It also raises some important points about the structure of Spain’s play in the forthcoming Euro. If Del Bosque wants to maximise the strengths of Barcelona model (tiki taka), he would be advised to try out Valdes sooner rather than later as the No 1 keeper.

    * Kxevin has got it all wrong with his statement that Villa is going to leave Barcelona. A semi-injured Villa was better than an inconsistent Pedro this season and that tells volumes about the need for him to continue to play – atleast a couple years in the colours of the Blaugrana.

    * The debate on the B team super-promotion – My two pennies – It is but bound to happen that the B team strength will be depleted as many are promoted far earlier than envisaged into the first team. That is because, Barca is getting more and more conservative about transfers despite running a short squad. Vis-a-vis the balance between a well stocked B team versus replenishments for a philosophically tuned first team, the tilt will obviously happen toward the latter. I think the best way out to keep La Masia graduates motivated to stay within the Barca setup for a longer future even as the process of promotions from B team happen thereby weakening it and possibly relegating it to the lower divisions – is to adopt a rational loaning/buy back system.

    * The RFEF’s unprofessionalism and its general mediocrity is now well commented upon. It is playing itself out again on the issue of choice of venue for the CDR final. How stupid of the RFEF to not have decided the venue well in advance before the commencement of the competition itself. It seems the choices boil down to the Mestalla vs the Camp Nou and it is a crying shame. It would have been a great exercise of “consociationalism” if the final is played in the Bernabeu.

    Spain, over the past few years, have grown less cagier about truer regional autonomy and “inclusive nationalism”. This has helped dim the tendencies for what is called, “irredentism” (the Basque homeland issue) and separatism (the proponents for Catalan independence are far lesser in significance these days). Consequently this has also helped Spain as a nation prosper in sport (although not much in the economy, which also needs a decentralisation and decoupling from finance capital, but I digress).

    If I were the RFEF or the Spain’s sport (or any) governing body, I would have thought it a great opportunity to bring the Catalans and the Basques to play in Castillia and given full throated support by their fans – which would have been a tribute to Spain’s new found inclusiveness.

    Alas, such farsightedness is beyond RFEF and Spain’s governing bodies of the present.

    * Osasuna is going to be a tough proposition at their home. Make no mistake about it. Test of Barca’s endurance and character all over again. 8-0 at home is no precedent-setter or a picture of what is going to happen at Reyno de Navarra.

    * An eye will be kept for the Levante- EE game. Levante have finally come down to performing based on their potential and their limited resources and seem to be satisfied going through the motions by avoiding relegation thus far. Expect EE to stroll through, but who knows what motivates Sergio Ballesteros and his merry men tonight. Lets hope the Blaugrana that they wear inspires some magic!

    1. I pretty much agree with all you’ve said here Srini!

      And double yes that EE will stroll through their game with a thumping victory over Levante who are getting back to reality and back down to size. EE will be at home and any hope of a team (other than Barca) getting something there is dead.

      Osasuna is a tough trip. I rememeber ALOT of tough games in the Basque country. We mustnt take them lightly. That 8-0 was just a freak result (for me, atleast).

  3. On the issue about transfers and promotions, who gets promoted and who gets sold will solely be based on the decision of Pep (when the time comes for a decision to make) and the choice/performance of the player himself.

    There is no defined rule book on which youngster will get promoted and which will be dropped/loaned and that is how it should be. When it comes to next summer’s pre-season, then it will be time for Pep to decide which youngsters are ready and which youngsters need more work. That is why there is no definite future when it comes to players such as Montoya, Bartra and so on.

    The same can be said for Afellay and Villa, their future’s haven’t been decided yet and it will be a long time until we find out. A clear example of this was Gabi Milito, despite his long term injury and also the fact that he wasn’t YET one of Pep’s players, he still remained under Pep’s plans, and in the end it was under mutual agreement that Gabi had to be transferred.

    Pep decided to promote Cuenca after a few months while Cuenca was on temporary promotion. Whether Cuenca is ready or not is based on Pep’s opinion. The same can be said for JDS, despite the mass uncertainty shown by us fans, Pep continuously offers JDS opportunities and lays down test after test for him to play through, and the same goes for Fontas who I think in key aspects is ready for first team football, he just isn’t match ready.

  4. @mom4

    On the tiny screen on the phone, it looked like yours was a reply to Kxevin’s post. That’s why I clicked reply under your post.
    Only today when I looked at it from my laptop I noticed that yours is an entirely new post 🙁

  5. I read this on twitter.

    Thank God Capello has gone. Now England can be managed by someone who’s actually won something in the game

    Had to bold it because it is so ridiculous.

    That article posted by Srini, VV vs. Iker is amazing!
    The author is one guy with balls. He tweeted it to a lot of the RM players and fan clubs 😆 and most of their replies were that RM topped the richest club once again 😆

  6. Now that we know that those B players are going to get promoted, who’s going to replace them at the B-team next season?

    Don’t tell me they’re going to promote Juvenil A players.

    This will set off a chain of reaction that’s negative.

  7. Kxevin is right, Zubiza has been rather talkative of late.

    He told Marca on Saturday: “The conditions for Pep to renew are favourable.”
    He claimed, however, that they did have a plan B, adding: “I have a list of potential replacements.”

    The fact that he said it to the public that he already has a list of replacements in mind is kinda worrying.

    1. I am sorry, but didn’t he say “Every sign is favorable about his renewal, I do not have a list of potential replacements for him.”

  8. The good news is that we are getting our players back from injury and that Osasuna are woefully out of form these days
    bad news is that we might be just dead tired after valencia’s game.
    Will there be a LB for tonight game??

  9. My Barca squad for next season;
    Gk Valdes- Pinto Andrada?
    Rb Alves, Montoya,Adriano
    Cb Pique, Puyol,Silva(or Rami), Masch
    Lb Abidal, Alba,

    Dm Busquets, Keita
    Cm Xavi, Thiago, Roberto
    Cm Fabergas, Iniesta

    LF Villa ,Tello,Sanchez
    Rf Pedro, Afellay, Cuenca
    CF Messi,

    Now this is just my own opinion. A top class Cb is a must. Puyol is not getting any younger and Pique has been woefully inconsistent. Masch is a must at cb but he needs a rest. Furthermore the likes of pique needs genuine competition.

    Full backs
    Alves needs a rest now and again. I like the look of Montoya hes seems a no nonsense less flash – traditional rb. Adriano will act as a squad multi purpose player.

    Abidal is first choice lb no question, but he’s not getting any younger. Therefore Alba seems the logical choice to offer alternative skills.TBH I would like to see more of him.

    Busi is integral to the Barca game, therefore is first choice. Also Masch and Keita can cover there. I hope Keita stays because the team needs his physicality and box to box runs. He provides variety imo.

    Lets remember that the Euros could have a huge effect on the condition of Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc. Therefore thiago may be very important nxt season. I like the look of Sergi Roberto but have reservations about Dos Santos.
    If required Afellay can play here.

    Give us back our Width! Afellay. Villa and Tello may be able to provide this. If the club has the money a Neymar or Rossi will do nicely

    1. CB
      sMasch doesn’t even get enough playing time and you think he needs a rest? He is resting whenever Puyol & Pique are playing.
      And if we do get Alba, we have 4 top class players vying for 2 spots and in some cases 1 when we play 3 at the back.

      I do think Barca should buy Alba in the summer but loan him back right away.

      Rossi would definitely be on the cheap. Why not give it a shot if it’s really cheap.

  10. Suarez childishly refuses Evra’s handshake. Why Dalglish didn’t pull his…um …butt off the field in the first minute…

    1. I don’t know Mom but Evra literally and single handedly made him the public enemy no.1 in England.

      I think he has the rights to reject his handshake.

      Btw, the comment from the previous thread was for Kxevin re: Villa’s resale value & 3M.

    2. Regarding Suarez-Sometimes you just gotta put on your big boy pants, and do the polite thing. A simple handshake doesn’t cure everything, but it assures that you don’t reignite the situation.

      Read and responded up top to your reply. Don’t worry about it. I’m in the keep Villa, Keita, and 3M camp, too.

    3. Evra literally and single handedly made him the public enemy no.1 in England.

      I think you’ll find Suarez did that to himself. SMH.

    1. I’m stuck working and then a BDay party and then a kid’s soccer game before I can trudge home and watch a DVRed version.

  11. United 1- 0 Liverpool
    Beautiful goal(volley) by Shreck off a corner. Who’s idea was it to leave him unmarked? Dreadful defending.

    oops 2-0 another by Rooney.

  12. Terrible defending by Leverkusen vs Dortmund so far.
    After 20 min, the passing quote of Leverkusen was just about 50%. Many give-aways next to their own penalty area.
    Dortmund only leads 1-0 though (half-time) and Leverkusen showed potential danger on the counter, especially in person of André Schürrle. He’s fast, definitely faster than Puyi and Piqué.
    Nonetheless, they are very vulnerabel to pressing and tend to play lots of bad passes if put under pressure. Should be a doable opponent. Although our CL k.o. away form isn’t that strong.

    1. streamings of that game were not working, the little i could see was not impressive either; still, playing at minus 7 or 9 sounds quite a challenge.

      watching some games from EPL – can’t believe how low the level there got; a few years ago they were so dominant in CL.

    2. Temperatures are rising till tuesday. Should be around zero or slightly more. Today at Pamplona will be worse…

  13. Questions for BFBers:

    Has anyone read Graham Hunter’s Barcelona book yet? If so, is it worth buying? I’m debating if I should order one. I’ve read Phil Ball’s Morbo and I thought it was a fair portrayal of the club but that was pre-Guardiola.

    Also, does anyone know where I can get Barcelona’s 2010-11 financial statement? Does the club publish it? I’ve googled it but nothing relevant came up.


    1. Amazon has it available for digital download, but doesn’t seem to sell the physical copy yet. I’m definitely going to buy it.

    2. Haven’t read it yet but eagerly waiting for my print copy. Graham is an excellent writer with a lot of insider info, and I don’t think you’ll regret spending the money. All the reviews I have seen so far (including the people in my twitter TL) say it is really good.

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