Avoiding the Alcorconazo: Barça – Cultural

CDR Preview: Barça – Cultural Leonesa, Tuesday 4pmEST, ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com

One order of happiness for the youngsters, please!
One order of happiness for the youngsters, please!

While our babies bandy about their abilities in the U-17 World Championship in Nigeria*, our slightly older crew of youngsters will be playing host to Cultural Leonesa in the second leg of our Round of 32 Copa del Rey tie. The aggregate score is 0-2 in Barça’s favor thanks to Pedro!’s fine finishing in the first leg and a solid enough defense to get away with, um, not losing 4-0 to a Segunda B side.

First, let’s go over the possibilities: in order to advance to the Round of 16, Barça can win with any scoreline, can draw with any scoreline (2-2, 4-4, etc), and can lose 0-1 or with any scoreline in which they only lose by one goal (1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc). A 0-2 loss would send the match to extra time. Because of the value of away goals, I think we’ll be able to come out and play our way through this match, especially if Cultural decides that they want to win this and comes out of their defensive shell.

But will they? They’re set fairly firmly in the lower regions of the Segunda B group 1 standings, sitting in the relegation zone at the moment, though tied on points with Izarra, who are in the relegation playoffs and 2 points behind Montañeros in the spot above that. They’re by no means doomed even after 12 matches as a win would put them up to 11th place out of 20. They’ve scored 12 goals in 12 matches and 0 against us. That doesn’t bode well for their chances of coming into the Camp Nou and running out winners 90 minutes later, but it also doesn’t disqualify them from being able to do so.

Barça will not be starting their best 11, there’s no doubt about that, no matter how unpredictable you believe Guardiola to be–and after the last lineup, who would put money on guessing correctly? The reason is that 6 of our regular starters are either injured or off on international duty already, preparing for World Cup Qualifiers.

Keita was diagnosed with a knee injury that will keep him out for around 10 days, meaning he shouldn’t miss any Barça matches unless Guardiola wants to keep him out against Athletic to ensure his full recovery. Ibrahimovic also sustained an injury in the Mallorca match that should keep him out for a week. Both of those injuries should be enough to keep the players out of international duty, with Keita missing meaningless WCQs and Ibra missing friendlies.

Henry and Abidal are off with France for their playoffs with Ireland, Chygrynskiy is off with the Ukraine for their playoffs with Greece, and The Yaya has deigned it okay that he join Cote D’Ivoire for a meaningless WCQ against Guinea. The 3 players with real duty are going to be given large numbers of minutes, so let’s hope that they get through without injuries or, in Henry’s case, without re-aggravating his previous injury. I’m fairly certain that Chygrynskiy will come through unscathed and will probably enjoy the physical battle against Greece; it might even make him better for us as he warms to playing a bit more.

So we’re approaching this with a solid lineup, with Jonathan Dos Santos, Andreu Fontàs, and Oriol Romeu practicing with the first squad today in preparation for the match. I suspect we’ll see a loaded bench, but a fairly odd lineup on the field:

Pinto, Alves, Marquez, Pique, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, JDS, Pedro!, Bojan, Jeffren.

At first I wrote “weakened lineup” but now I’m not sure that’s a totally weak lineup. It will require constant vigilance by Xavi and Busi on the defensive half in order to keep up with any forays Alves and Maxwell make, but I think they can do it as Cultural push forward and open themselves up to one-touch passing in the final third.  There’s always the possibility that we start Gai or Iniesta instead of one of the other midfielders, but Busi is really our only DM available with Keita and The Yaya gone.

Official Prediction: 1-1. Goal by our little man Bojan. Whatever has been said about him, he’s going to bury something spectacular in the first half. Take that, you damned naysayers. (Now come on, kid, don’t make me look bad!)

Match time:
10pm local/Barcelona
4pm EST/New York
Check your time here

*Albert Dalmau, D, b. March 16, 1992; Sergi Gomez, D, b. March 28, 1992; Marc Muniesa, D, b. March 27, 1992; Adria Carmona, MF, b. February 8 1992; Javier Espinosa, MF, b. September 19, 1992; Sergi Roberto, MF b. February 7, 1992. They just beat Uruguay on penalties after a 3-3 in which Muniesa got a straight red and Roberto, who had previously scored a hat trick against Burkina Faso, missed a penalty during the first half. The back line was composed of 3 Barça youngsters until Muniesa’s red, which is pretty cool. Neither Adria Carmona nor Javier Espinosa played a part in the match.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. ballbeav
    November 9, 2009

    great title to this piece, I-man

  2. November 9, 2009

    If Xavi and Alves play I will smash my favorite Mag. Which is not far from happening.

  3. Tyler
    November 9, 2009

    I hope Madrid is sent home packing, I won’t be able to stop laughing.

    • November 9, 2009

      It has a decent chance of happening. When a team knows that all they have to do is not lose by 4+ goals, they can just stack just about everyone behind the ball and wait, even a Segunda B side.

  4. Helge
    November 9, 2009

    Wow, I knew that Muniesa and Dalmau play for Barca Athletic, but there are some more of ours. Great to see!

    If Cultural wants to go for a win that would take them to the next round, I can easily see the proposed line-up to win it 4-0. JDS and Xavi together in midfield is the perfect opportunity for JDS to learn from and combine with the Master. Pedro is freakin’ dangerous in attack lately and I also believe, want to believe, that Bojan scores and has a great match.

    Madrid’s possible line-up
    Dudek; Arbeloa, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo; Diarra, Lass; Higuaín, Kaká; Raúl y Van Nistelrooy
    No Benzema, Casillas, Xabi Alonso as well as Guti, Drenthe and Metzelder (last three still as a consequence of the first leg:D). It’s possible for them to qualify, but I’ve got a good feeling. And it’s interesting to see that they are more concerned about CR and Portugal than the CDR, plus the intern problems with Guti ain’t solved yet. Not everything is looking bright in Madrid (either?).

    • Boat Forever
      November 9, 2009

      Albiol red!? I guess he’s not eligible for this match

    • Tyler
      November 10, 2009

      I think Spencer brought up a good point, just line 10 guys up in the box and play the defense of a lifetime. The more I think about it, it’s just INCREDIBLE a segunda B scored 4 TIMES. they didn’t just win 1-0, 2-1, no. 4 to NILL. oh I hope they throw on their strongest lineup cuz I want them to lose so bad!

  5. Tutomate
    November 9, 2009

    Last post about A/V I promise.

    Thanks Alex on the SS. Kxevin I was worried about that issue I know that both the S and the G do the 3:2 bit but I was wondering if I should stat away from that I guess it’s not as important as some make it out to be. Also your are right on about the THX, I heard it’s just an expensive certification that makes the set just cost more. I’m noob at this so I am pretty confused the reason I started looking at Plamas was because The people at BB recommended LCD. So I pretty much to the opposite of what they tell me. No offense Alex I know there are some damn good LCD sets out there. Buy I was watching a clip of transformers 2 at BB in a 2.7k Samsung LED set with 240hz 50″ and I just could not get the blur that optimus Prime would create around his edges when he moved. So I was like man if this 2,700$ set does this than what is the set I can afford going to do? So I read more and more about plasma and why they don’t look so appealing the the BBs of the world and so on so know with your advice I know That a plasma is rght for me. Specially since I watch tv in the evenings mostly and can control the light in the living room.

    The panny 50″ s1 was on sale this weekend at BB ($999)but I missed it. I’m willing to go for the G10 but if I can save some money and get the S1 and lose minimal quality then im willing to do that.

    • November 9, 2009

      I like my LCD, just to throw that out there. 42″ Philips that cost me $700 on sale at Target. I’ve got no complaints at all. Plasmas are supposedly better than LCDs for sports, but I’ve got no complaints at all about my LCD.

      My brother points out that your brain can’t actually tell the difference most of the time because of how our eyes physically process the images. So you shouldn’t worry about it as much as most of us end up doing before we make a brilliant purchase. Not that I didn’t do some of the same research, it’s just that whatever, you can’t tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p apparently. Like if you say you can, it’s in your brain. Same is true with HDMI vs A/V cables most of the time.

      • Carles P
        November 10, 2009

        I have both an LCD and a Plasma. Love them both. Plasma is a little better as far as definition goes, but I really cannot tell the difference when watching sports.

        They are both Vizio’s, and I bought them because they were a VERY reasonable price. I recommend Vizio’s mostly because of the price, but also because I have never had any complaints and my brother has a panasonic and a sharp aqous and he agree’s that my Vizios are just as good, and actually better than the panasonic (as far as picture quality goes).

  6. Eduard
    November 9, 2009

    Congrats Spain U-17!

    Can I confirm that Barca play at home on Wednesday(or is it an away game?).

    • November 9, 2009

      You mean tomorrow, Tuesday? The match against Cultural is at the Camp Nou, but it’s NOT on Wednesday.

  7. Kxevin
    November 9, 2009

    I think that we are going to be about as negative as you will ever see us, because if things go wrong, there’s no plan B. Usually, Messi, Henry or someone is sitting on the bench in case something gets funky. Not now. And with Ibra dinged as well, we don’t want to have to chase the match. So we won’t shut up shop, but we are going to play very, very tight to the vest. I predict 1-1 as well, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 1-0 loss for us, which still gets us through.

    I know, I know …. a loss at home? Are you crazy? Yes. I am. A little bit. But I think that Guardiola knows that silver in the hand is silver in the hand, and he will actually play the Copa to win it, vs thinking it was a nice little bauble last season. I seriously believe that he thinks that we can win all six trophies that we’re after this season.

    And if he does, so do I.

    –P.S. Just a little, silly bit of commerce. I screwed up and ordered a size too small on the puffy Barca jacket that you can see here: http://www.kitbag.com/product_images/maxzoom/PRD_MAXZOOM_BARCA-61233.JPG

    So if anyone in the United States wants a size large that is brand spankin’ new, e-mail me at kevvwill@gmail.com. $120 shipped to your door. For size reference, I’m a 44 sport coat, and needed an XL. But I’m a L Barca shirt. Anyhow. Sorry again, but this seems the place to ask, before I ship it back to the UK.

  8. November 10, 2009

    Really hope Gai plays tonight.. I honestly believe he’s the next best thing since Messi came through. The poor lad tries way too hard everytime he gets a chance. One good game will bring him to the fore and hopefully make the Robinho talk redundant!

    • Kxevin
      November 10, 2009

      I don’t think that the Robinho talk is ever going to go away. Or Ribery, or…. This is Henry’s last season in the lineup, and probably with the club. A qualty replacement needs to be found, and we don’t really have one. Robinho ain’t it either, but his proponents believe that he has the necessary qualities. I don’t, but that’s another story.

      So the question becomes who. I just don’t see Assulin as that Robinho type. He seems closer to a more dynamic Iniesta. I want to see me some JDS more than Assulin, frankly. I think that Jeffren also needs a runout. And Krkic needs to impress. La Liga Loca, in its match roundup, noted that the emergence of Pedro! has people saying “Bojan who?” So it isn’t just us who are discussing the ultimate usefulness of Bojangles.

      Also interesting is in an EMD piece about Krkic being limited to being solely a player for the Copa, there was quite a bit of fan sentiment suggesting that the Bojangles experiment might be showing signs of having run its course.

      Obviously, some snarky bloggers and commenters at a sports Web site aren’t any sort of a reliable indicator of impending club decisions. But if it’s out there in the public dialogue, it’s a persistent enough issue.

      • Boat Forever
        November 10, 2009

        If Bojan were to stay, we need to sign some one like Danny who could turn up for the big matches as well as giving some play time for Bojan & Henry needs to stay to continue his work of mentoring Bojan and be the super-sub like Larsson… after all he was so awe-struck by Larsson’s contribution in CL final & looks like Keirrison is not gonna return any time soon!! Signing Robinho would more or less hinder Bojan’s stay at Barca. All these days Bojan was supposed to be pretty much the first sub, but now looks like P! is gonna snatch that away from Bojan. I believe Bojan had some new found confidence when we didn’t sign any LW during summer, but now with the injury set-back, P! emerging & the imminent signing in January… looks Bojan is gonna have some hard time 🙁

    • Greg
      November 10, 2009

      unfortunatly gai has international dutys with israels under-21, so he he is not in barcelona right now. what a pitty! would be a great chance to shine once more! maybe in the next copa round…

      • November 10, 2009

        Oh good information, Greg, I actually wondered what was going on there. Good thing I didn’t include him in my lineup!

  9. Helge
    November 10, 2009

    Just to be confirmed by anyone… Messi and all our Spanish internationals are available, right? So that has to be sufficient to not lose 0-3 against a Segunda B side.

    Oh, and news from Ibra: He has (temporarily) retired from the Swedish national team, because of probs with the Swedish FA and lack of quality in the team. Good for us, ain’t it?

    • Jose39
      November 10, 2009

      This probably implies he won’t be playing in any friendlies that they’ll be lining up against Sweden. Sweden, being among the best teams not to qualify, will probably be very solicited early next year. So Ibra would likely miss those meaningless friendlies… probably not a big deal to the Swedes.

  10. Tajh
    November 10, 2009

    Looks like YAYA agent is at it again…… complaining about playing time now…..*//http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/11/10/1616008/yaya-toure-unsettled-at-barcelona-but-will-not-join

  11. jordi
    November 10, 2009

    Yaya’s agent Seluk is still a turd in case anyone was wondering

    • Kxevin
      November 10, 2009

      A big giant one, to be sure. But recall that the same crap went on last year. Agents stir shit up to keep their clients in the news as much as anything. There is value in that.

      But there is no question of The Yaya’s value to the club, and any stories that Guardiola prefers Busquets to The Yaya are absurd. The difference in quality and overall effectiveness is evident even to the most casual footy watcher.

      The Yaya’s agent is most def a big, steaming pile of caga, though. Fo’ sho’.

    • Jose39
      November 10, 2009

      Seluk’s got to be a tough SOB. The Yaya probably went through several agents before he found one that didn’t disintegrate when they first shook hands.

  12. November 10, 2009

    Yaya suffering lack of playing time?

    Then Who is that giant we are selecting for most of our games so far?

    Its Goal.com though…

    • Boat Forever
      November 10, 2009

      Although he started all the CL games, he started only 4 league games & came on as sub in 1… Don’t understand why Pep had to overuse Keita, he could have given him some more rest and use The Yaya instead who’s definitely better in bursting into the opponent’s box!! I guess Keita’s injury was a result of him playing almost all the matches… should have probably been rotated more imo
      But at the same time I’m confident that Yaya is feeling important in the squad because he started all the big matches

      • Ramzi
        November 10, 2009

        Messi started 11 games so far. So 9 games is not bad at all for Yaya. There is no case here.

        • Boat Forever
          November 10, 2009

          Correction : 14 including the cup matches!
          But Keita is supposed to be second fiddle to Yaya Toure, at least for the outsiders… I’m not complaining that Keita starts ahead of Yaya but I think he should have been rotated more, for both the morale sake & the fatigue sake!

          • November 10, 2009

            I dont usually count games. I depended on the official site info:

            anyways, Yaya is playing enough games for how physically demanding his role is. So I dont see any truth in this story.

          • Jnice
            November 10, 2009

            Yeah, Busquets has played in the league more than Yaya too many times for my liking.

          • November 10, 2009

            Here are the total numbers:

            Messi, 15 matches
            Yaya, 13 matches

            League (out of 10 matches):
            Messi, 9
            Yaya, 5

            Champions League (out of 4 matches)
            Messi, 4
            Yaya, 4

            CDR (out of 1 match)
            Messi, 0
            Yaya, 1

            Super Cups (out of 3 matches)
            Messi, 2
            Yaya, 3

            Of those 13 appearances, The Yaya started 12 of them. He has played just under 65% of the team’s total minutes (1,105 of 1,706) and while that is certainly much lower than Keita’s team-leading 1,527 minutes, it’s actually above the team average of 924 minutes.

            I do think Yaya should get more minutes, but I also realize how goddamned long this season is, the fact that he’s going to be gone all of January (getting minutes there), and the need to preserve a player who can play just about anywhere on the field. His versatility, as proven during the CL run last year, is invaluable and giving him fewer minutes now and more towards the end of the season when the mortals run out of steam, is a fairly shrewd move on Guardiola’s part.

            I put no stock in these rumors of his exit. Like Ramzi with Mascherano, I’ll believe he’s gone when he dons a different color.

  13. Alexinho
    November 10, 2009

    Banjo Crickets.

    I hope Xavi doesn’t make it into the lineup, although apparently there’s no choice. A shame, with the substitution against Mallorca, another off-day for him would’ve felt like quite the rejuvenating vacation by his standards.

  14. Boat Forever
    November 10, 2009

    Interesting news which would make Kxevin, of all, the most happiest… Willian’s agent(remember Willian!?) says Barca have been following the player regularly and might do so until January, so far there’s nothing concrete but they might start talks before too long! Also Sevilla & Lyon are keeping tabs on the winger(I wonder why! Sevilla!? Lyon!? Don’t you have 5 wingers for 2 positions?!?)

  15. Kxevin
    November 10, 2009

    So even though The Yaya has said “I don’t want to go to Citeh,” and Citeh boss Mark Hughes has said “Robinho’s future is with us,” does anyone really think that it will quell the persistent rumors?


    Interesting news, Boat Forever. But I would bet that we’ve been following Willian since he got all up in our asses in the UEFA Super Cup. He would be too logical a purchase, so I just don’t see it happening. Pace? Check. Plays defense? Check. Passer? Check. Tip-top ball skills? Check. Loves tracking back? Check. Can beat a defender one-on-one? Check.

    “Naaaah. Something’s wrong with him. It just has to be!” 😀

    Seriously, though, I just think that he’s a very solid option, if the price is right, until we figure out who we really want over there. He doesn’t score enough goals to be the real Henry replacement, but if we could steal him for say, 15m or so, it would be cool, even as it gave Jeffren real cause for concern. Which is bad, because I love me some Final Fantasy.

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