Comings and goings, a.k.a “Who’s in, who’s out”

Okay. My bag is already packed for Barcelona, that’s how geeked I am about this trip. I have two matches, the Inter Champions League and El Clasico.

Now who the hell am I going to be seeing for these matches?**

First off, let’s discuss the import:

If we lose against Inter and Rubin Kazan beat Dynamo Kyiv, we are out of the Champions League. Huge.
If we lost against the EE at home, we go down to them in the standings (presuming that we both win this weekend), and lose significant space in the psychological war that is a Liga season between the two giants.

But ….

Who will we be able to call upon?

Well, I’m pretty much ruling out Henry for the Bilbao match, our next, because he basically played the better part of an adult lifetime against Ireland in France’s tempestuous World Cup qualifier. Full match, all of extra time, on Wednesday, with a Saturday match. Lordy.

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out with an aggravation of the hamstring injury that he was already nursing as a result of tweaking it against Mallorca.

Eric Abidal is laid up with a thigh injury, though our physios are working like dogs to get him ready for the EE match. Inter is out of the question.

So what we know right now is that we don’t know. Anything. Sport and EMD are saying that Ibra is out for Bilbao, which will be a tough one for us in their lion’s den. But if all is right, we shouldn’t need him to beat Bilbao. Problem is that we won’t have a fit, fresh Henry either, which means who at the 9? Our cuddly toy? Doubtful. That front line remains to be seen.

I would say not to get worked up about any potental injuries against the EE until we definitely know. Hamstrings are scary things, because they have the potential to ruin a player’s season if the injury isn’t diagnosed and treated properly. So the question becomes do we face two immense matches without our BANGS? We’ll just have to see, right?

Here’s some other stuff that’s going on

Abidal has a contract deal on the table, that he is expected to sign. This is good news, as he is a vital cog in our defensive, possession-hungry machine. Just don’t play him at center back. Ever. Please. Thank you.

Gai Assulin is rumored to be resisting talks about a new deal. His current one expires in June, and is his head being turned by Premiership fame? Arsenal and Chelsea are two of the names rumored to be nosing around him.

Thiago and Dos Santos are on the contract fast-track machine, which is very good news. I know that this is not the most popular decision, but I think that those two, in a few years, are going to be on our lips more than Assulin. Particularly Johnny Two-Time.

Milito played an exhibition match earlier this week, and is fine. Goblins didn’t carry him away, his knee didn’t blow up and most importantly, he feels good. No residual pain, no nothing. Could he be one of our January signings, so to speak? For those who don’t already know, I love what Milito brings to the side. He isn’t a Marquez or Pique, with the long, attack-starting passes. He isn’t a Puyol, the beating heart of our side who goes flying about. What he is, however, is a man. Who makes opposing teams think before venturing into the box, because he doesn’t screw around in the box. Lock and load, baby. I like the fact that we will soon be able to call upon him.

**As planned/promised, I will be live Tweeting from both the Champions League and Inter matches. I expect that everyone here will be LiveBlogging away for both those matches, but fyi. I am kevvwill on Twitter.

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Jnice
    November 19, 2009

    I think the frontline will be Bojan, Messi, and Pedro. I don’t think Pep will start Iniesta, so those are really our only options up front. Jeffren? Probably not.

    • November 19, 2009

      My gut tells me that we’ll see more of Gai in the CDR and that could sway the general consensus that he’s overhyped.

      • November 19, 2009

        I’m with Isaiah on this one. No player can sustain the kind of hype that Assulin has been receiving. I wonder if expectations for Krkic would be as high had the hype not been so stratospheric.

        • Achraf
          November 19, 2009

          Well Ive been hearing about this guy ever since he could hit a football but have to say he hasn’t done anything AMAZING as of yet but he has only appeared like 5 times so can’t really blame him.

          But think of this now if bojan had come in the guardiola era say guardiola was coach 3 years ago then bojan in first team never happens. Guardiola lets say has a very different perspective on the initiation of youngsters then rijkaard had.

          Busquets though lay be an exception

          Also kxev why the hell is YAYA not playin vs inter in your ibra-less lineup. Youll be there for two games and don’t want to see the YAYA for 180 minutes shame on you :p

          • Flippy
            November 19, 2009

            Busquets is 21 at least, well last season. Bojan, Gai, Jonathan, and Thiago are teenagers. Pedro too is over 20. So I think Pep thinks youngsters should be integrated fully at age 20 or higher…

          • xi
            November 19, 2009

            Pep was the man who said Bojan was ready when rijkaard asked him about Bojan.

  2. Andrew
    November 19, 2009

    So jealous you’re going to El Clasico.

  3. Achraf
    November 19, 2009

    Wow it actually took 3 posts in less then an hour to finally stop talking about henry’s handball 😀

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 19, 2009

      and then you bring it up again…

    • November 19, 2009

      See, we were thinking you were going to laud us for our creativity/productivity. 😀

      Thanks, Andrew. You should have heard me cursing and almost crying when I couldn’t get into the site for a bit to complete my order for the ticket(s). Wifey was going to give me a hug, but she was too scared to approach that wild-eyed maniac in our home office.

  4. November 19, 2009

    My lineup for Bilbao:

    Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell
    The Yaya Keita Xavi
    Messi Krkic Pedro!

    My Ibra-less Inter lineup:

    Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell
    Busquets Keita Xavi
    Pedro! Messi Iniesta

    My Ibra-less Clasico lineup:
    Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell
    Xavi The Yaya Keita
    Messi Henry Iniesta

    I think we can win all three matches, even without Ibrahimovic. But of course I’m going to say that, right? 😀

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 19, 2009

      Didn’t Puyol and Pique play both friendlies? what if Alves re-aggravates his injury. I think i would rest Puyol and maybe Pique for Bilbao, since they are sure to both play the Inter-Madrid matches.

    • Flippy
      November 19, 2009

      Isn’t Keita out for the Bilbao match?

  5. ElShowDeJason
    November 19, 2009

    Well, Bilbao will be is a very tough and aggressive team. Since we don’t have Ibra or Henry, i might have to suggest a 4-4-2, and giving Keita basically no defensive duty, using him to terrorize the backline with runs… something like this:


    Keita would technically be started on the left, but really we would need Keita, Pedro!, and Messi in the inside bothering the backline. Our Width would obviously come from both Alves and Maxwell bombing forward, and our defense security would come from Yaya and Busi.

    Txigrinski and Marquez are not very fast, but their maine threat is Fernando Llorente. He is not fast, and not very technical. He is huge, powerfull, and good in the air, so i think Marquez and Txigi have the tools to stop him. Also, if Busi and Yaya prevent any service to Llorente, then he won’t be a threat.

  6. jordi
    November 19, 2009

    Jason , Del Bosque actually rested pique and puyi in the second match.They remained on the bench.

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 19, 2009

      Cool… thats good news then… still… I think they will need to be 100% for the Inter-Madrid matches, so i’m sticking with Rafa and Txigi…

  7. Vj
    November 19, 2009

    My 2 cents:

    Lineup for Bilbao:

    Alves – Pique – Txigi – Maxwell
    Keita – Busi – Xavi
    Messi – Krkic – P!

    Lineup for Inter: (No Ibra)

    Alves – Pique – Puyol – Maxwell
    Xavi – Yaya – Keita
    Iniesta – Messi – Henry

    Lineup for Clasico: (No Ibra)

    Alves – Pique – Puyol – Maxwell
    Xavi – Yaya – Iniesta
    P! – Messi – Henry

    We have to win @ Bilbao.. Against Inter and Madrid 4pts would make me happy..

    Lets see how Henry steps up after being crucified..

  8. Kxevin
    November 19, 2009

    I thought that Txignasty was still knocked, which was why I didn’t use him against Bilbao. If he is, rest Puyol and partner Pique/Txiggy there.

      • ElShowDeJason
        November 19, 2009

        so, if everyone’s sources are correct… Abidal, Henry, Ibra, Txigrinski, Keita, and Puyol are knocked.

        so back to what kxevin had said… “what we know, is that we don’t know”

  9. Boat Forever
    November 19, 2009


    I’m not sure if Pep plays The Yaya against Bilbao because he is a ‘must & should’ against Inter & Classico. Puyi could use some rest & also a nice show would serve as a good confidence-booster for Marquez as well!! If every thing goes well we need not use Maxwell against Madrid whose flank strength is way too good than Inter imo.
    Don’t trust Bojan as ‘9’ against Athletic!? Sure!! What the hell!? He scored 2 against them in the last 3 encounters, once as CF & once as LW… Also if he puts a good show against Athletic, that would be like a very good boost for him ahead of our clash against Inter in case Ibra won’t recover until then due to some damned luck!! Also it would be nice to see Bojan vs Balotelli encounter, would be fucking sweet if our kid wins it 🙂

    P.S. Thank God Del Bosque played Xavi & Iniesta for only one half and also rested Pique & Puyi for the whole game… But why the hell didn’t he bring on Xabi Alonso for Busi!? He could have subbed Busi earlier like he did with Xavi & Iniesta!!

    • UAI
      November 19, 2009

      I think in the longer run that will be better for Busi, good for him to get a lot of minutes in the national side at this point

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