It’s a slow news day. There’s no doubt about that. But here goes with what we know:
-There are 9 first team players back in training along with 4 Barça Atletic players. Messi returned today and should be fit and ready to go for the Athletic match on Saturday–whether that’s true about the others who aren’t back from international duty is definitely a big question. I suppose it will depend on how much playing time they get in tomorrow’s friendlies or World Cup qualifiers.
Those present today were: Valdés, Pinto, Bojan, Jeffren, Milito, Pedro, Maxwell, Márquez, and the aforementioned Messi. The four Atletic players were: Marc Bartra, Oriol Romeu, Nolito, and Jonathan dos Santos. Also present but training alone were Keita and Ibra, both of whom apparently did ball work along with their physical recovery training.
-Abidal is still injured enough that he’s not back in training. Word on the intertubes is that he’s going to miss 3 weeks, resulting in us losing our arguably most consistent defender for both the Inter and RM matches coming up next week. That means Maxwell is going to have to step up something ferocious. I believe he can, but we might be a bit shakier on defense, especially if The Yaya isn’t able to make it back for the Athletic match. Our giant Ivorian is capable of playing almost as a third CB in between the true CBs. I don’t particularly trust Busi to do the same
-Tomorrow’s Austria-Spain should feature several of players, but I hope that Captain Puyol is kept out because he was pulled from the Argentina match due to a slight recurrence of the knee problem that has caused him considerable difficulties throughout the season. And that is why friendlies being played like they’re real matches is stupid. Seriously. Screw both del Bosque and Maradona for not using their friggin’ substitution allowance (6) until del Bosque woke up in the 82nd minute and took out Iniesta. Oh yay, Jesus Navas got 8 minutes! Yipee! And Maradona? Oh, he used 4 in total. People on the bench he didn’t use: Pablo Aimar and Sergio Aguero. Why bother calling them up if you’re not going to use them in a friendly? What a jackass.
-Reports indicate that Pedro! could be about to receive a new contract thank to his contributions to the team so far this year (which include being the only person to score in all our competitions so far). If that’s true, I expect that The Yaya will also get a contract renewal and raise or he will be g-o-n-e, especially if the wages being discussed are anywhere near accurate. Pedro! < The Yaya. That’s some serious math for you (math geeks: Pedro factorial? What does that equal? Answer in the comments. I’m going with 86,400).
-I should be able to run a liveblog of the Ukraine-Greece match (12:45pmEST on ESPN2/HD), but it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to do so for the France-Ireland match (3pmEST). Come by tomorrow and check out everything we’ve got going on.