We’re on the warpath yet again, ladies and gentleman, with another news roundup for your perusal.
-The biggest news, in my esteemed opinion, is that Dani Alves has been given medical clearance and should be fit to play against Rubin Kazan. Whether or not he’s fully recovered is not something I’m capable of saying, of course, but if he’s able to play without risk of further injury, I suggest putting him on the field at right back. Just a thought, of course, a tactical wrinkle I’ve developed completely on my own. I’m sure that he recovered faster than was originally considered possibly by playing all four parts in this video at once while sleeping.
-Speaking of the match that’s coming up on Wednesday, it turns out that Barça is going to wear super Nike stretchy goodness under their kits, making them impervious to the expected below-zero temperatures in Kazan. Sport has the story, complete with a random picture of someone wearing what appears to be football pads on his legs. I say give those to Messi to keep his precious legs away from injury. There’s the possibility of snow for Wednesday (currently 30% according to Weather Underground), which means the potential for a huge snowball that only The Yaya will be able to kick.
-While we’re on the subject of that giant behemoth of a gigantic giant, I saw this picture of The Yaya in Marca and felt, for the tiniest fraction of a moment, sorry for Rubin Kazan, who have to face him. The article itself just talks about how FCB is going to take “Mediterranean food” to Russia as well as lots of warm clothing. Nice. But do you really think The Yaya will need to wear all that fancy anti-cold gear? Won’t he just breath a bit of fire on to his skin and go about his business? Also, Puyol has probably been sleeping in his freezer for a few weeks now in preparation so he won’t need that nonsense either.
-The ref for the match will be Konrad Plautz, an Austrian. I don’t actually know anything about Plautz, so I looked him up on Wikipedia and found that he’s not only a ridiculously physically fit ref, he’s apparently also involved in a local theater group. Alves and Busi take note: he knows what acting looks like so stay on your friggin’ feet. It doesn’t appear that he’s ever reffed a Barça before, but I can’t be positive about that. He was the ref for the 4-1 Spanish demolition of Russia in the group stage of Euro2008, so you can go back and review his performance there if you’d like. He should be able to keep up with the match and make sure that everyone gets a fair shake throughout (his neutrality seems to be fairly good).
-Barça’s flight to Kazan was delayed 2 hours at El Prat, meaning they’ll be arriving late tonight (10pm local time) instead of mid-evening, which isn’t the best way to start the journey, which is five and a half hours each way by plane, but hopefully everything goes smoothly from hereon out.
–Johan Cruyff was chosen as the head coach of Catalunya’s “autonomous” team and should be choosing players from Barça’s academy soon, though for what matches, I don’t know. They’ve played six times in the last three years, so it’s not exactly a massive organization…I guess you get a lot of preparation time, so being tactically out-foxed is probably not a good thing. Here’s hoping that the Catalan team will help to blood some of the younger Catalan players and allow them to move up to the full national team faster, rather than serving as a roadblock to their international futures. Oleguer will be thrilled about all of this, no doubt.