CL Preview: Bayer Leverkusen – Barcelona, Tuesday 2:45pm ET
It’s the doldrums of Hlebruary and we’re off to face Hleverkusen. Okay, so he never played for them, but Hlebgart isn’t available, so I made a substitution. Put on Tello for Pedro, so to speak. Made a mad dash for the end line and hooked in a wicked cross. Unfortunately it was an Alves cross and now the ball is some happy kid’s souvenir in the second deck. Until the meanie stewards take it back like the jerks they are. He’s just a kid.
Here’s the thing: Barça are far from being on suicide watch. Yes, the team lost to Osasuna, but they’ve dropped just 18 points in 22 matches. Borussia Dortmund has 46 points from 21 matches, AC Milan has 47 from 23, and Manchester City has 60 from 25. Maybe the league is lost, but that has little to do with underachieving–on pace to earn 83 points is hardly underachieving. It’s just that Madrid is on pace to earn 100. They’re being lethal in front of goal, having scored 12 more goals, and that is the difference, at the moment. 5 extra draws by Barcelona because goals were hard to come by in the crucial moments. 5 extra draws because these things happen.
And now it’s time for the Champions League, a trophy that is importanterest now for cules who don’t know what trophy-less seasons are. I’ll tell you what they are: they’re what Madrid went through for 3 years. They’re things that happen to all clubs and if you’re not used to it, you’re living the good life and you should be very aware of that. Not that anyone should stop fighting for any trophy still available. No one in this locker room will, I don’t think, though it would be nice to give Messi a rest once in a while.
So, Leverkusen gets to bear the brunt of our retaliation, I hope. Away day slumps have to stop if there’s going to be something to add to the trophy cabinet and this is where it begins. In Germany. On a cold night. In a different competition. They’re very meh these days and we’re very meh these days and they’re going to come out working like dogs to shut us down and try to take advantage of what’s going on. Injuries, lack of form, whatever it is, it’s going on and it will stop right here.
Squad: Valdes, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Fàbregas, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Thiago, Mascherano, Pedro, Adriano, Abidal, Alexis, Cuenca, Busquets, Dos Santos, Tello, Sergi Roberto, Bartra, Oier
Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Abidal, Busi, Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc, Messi, Alexis
There can be no other way than to play our best 11 at the moment. If Busi is an ungainly horse at the moment (and he’s certainly some sort of equine), he must stand all the more ungainly in the way of Leverkusen attacks. Those attacks will come from the likes of the immensely talented André Schürrle while the support structure involves veterans like Simon Rolfes. I like Tranquillo Barnetta a lot too, but that might just be his name.
“Oh no, they’ve got a massive lineup. We’ll never be able to hold them off!”
“Tranquilo, hom-bray, they won’t score any golazos today.”
“But they have
Leverkusen is definitely missing our old bee-fighting nemesis, Michael Ballack, through injury. Striker Eren Derdiyok injured himself stepping on glass at his home, according to this article by FCB. They’re also without Sidney Sam, their young midfielder. These changes make it all the tougher for them, but I’m sure they’ll play hard (and well) in front of their own fans.
Official Prediction: 1-1. Doldrums are doldrums, people. Hlebruary is Hlebruary, folks. Fear not, however, the return leg is in March.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone, smooch your favorite cule tomorrow…even if it means cornering Iniesta and emotionally scarring him for life.