The Deafening Roar of Going CL Crazy: Barcelona – Spartak

Hello again. You seem surprised, but yes, it’s me, UEFACEF Champions League Group Stage. You may remember my older brother Knockout Stage from his time with you last May. Haha, what a character. He’s always messing with people. I dared him to let Chelsea win and, get this, he totally bought it. What a joker.

But forget about him because I’m the important one right now. Forget to take me seriously and you’ll have to spend the rest of the season with our cousin, Europa League. You don’t want to do that. It’s really just not worth it. So pay attention to me, give me the attention I crave, and I may deliver you a trip to southern France in February…or a trip to Moscow. Mwahaha. You never know!

I know, I know, you think I’m rigged. Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, and Real Madrid? Haha, oh man, you shoulda seen the look on Platini’s face when I said that was going to happen. He was all “This is totally the best Champions League year ever!” but I think he thought I was talking about the semifinals or something, but that’s my brother not me geez. Way to be insensitive, Michel. This year I decided to–surprise!–give Barcelona a really easy group. So I assigned them some piddling teams that will–aaahaha, one of them is in Russia and another one in Scotland. So much for a lack of traveling, mis amigos cules.

The secret is that there are no easy groups. Even that group with Nordsjælland in it also has Shakhtar, Juventus, and Chelsea. So, sure, maybe they’ll all get 18 points or whatever the English media thinks Chelsea will earn off of their single visit to Norway, but turns out that Nordsjælland has Michael Parkhurst! He’s an American playing in the Champions League. Apparently Clint Dempsey should have moved to Norway instead of Spurs (zing!).

But no one is actually watching Nordsjælland (or trying to pronounce it! ha!) because we all know that the final is at Wembley and we all know that that means we’re going to see Barcelona play someone into the ground there. It’s the deal that the English FA made for having the final being in their stadium: UEFACEF gets to put its favorite team in the big finale. Last year Bayern Munich went against the unspoken rule (unspoken outside the UEFACEF caverns, of course) that you cannot play the final in your own stadium and Bayern Munich were dashed against a brick wall of penalties. Michel Platini made all of the players wear ear pieces so he could tell them where to shoot and/or dive.

Incidentally, Real Madrid didn’t get to go through because Mourinho once met a ref in the parking garage after a game to berate him and everyone knows that parking garages are off limits after games because that is where UEFACEF and FIFACEF meet with the people buying Barcelona’s next victory. And they do not like having their secret rendezvouses (is that word?) attended by people who just want their hand in that cookie jar.

Also incidentally, Barcelona are playing Spartak Moscow, who, incidentally, have Unai Emory as their head coach. Emory is the only man to have beaten Pep Guardiola 8 times out of 8 by a combined score of 300-0*. Spartak have Kim Kallstrom, Nicolas Pareja, Aiden McGeady, Jose Manuel Jurado, Demy de Zeeuw, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, and definitely at least enough other players to field a full squad. Jurado and Pareja know the Camp Nou from their stints in Spain’s top flight while Kim Kallstrom has been there with Lyon in the Champions League. It’s unlikely they’ll be overwhelmed like school children under the American Museum of Natural History’s blue whale, but it’s also not the easiest place to play (UEFACEF, remember)

With Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta out, it’s like the caveman and ghost viewership will be lower for this match. With Chelsea-Juventus and Bayern Munich-Valencia competing with it, the real human viewership is like to be lower too. It’s unlikely that little ol’ Spartak will draw the big channels’ desiring looks. Shakhtar-Nordsjælland is also at the same time! I just like to write æ. Maybe something obscure like Fox Sports en Espanol will show the match live. But it doesn’t matter because everyone knows the score will be 3-1. What’s the point of even watching. Messi will get 2. Spartak will get one. Then Villa will sub on and get a third because that is how he rolls these days.

Okay, so we all understand this, right? Barcelona has to travel everywhere because The Powers That Be hate them, but they’ll win the Champions League because The Powers That Be love them. That’s clear, isn’t it? Nothing is a coincidence! Also, Knockout Stage is just scared of league formats. The excitement comes from not controlling your own destiny because you drew with like FC Kluj or something.

—–
*not strictly true stats, but you wouldn’t know by reading the Spanish dailies…though you would know by reading anything ever written about Unai Emory in those same Spanish dailies during his tenure at Valencia.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

105 Comments

  1. simple_barcafan
    September 18, 2012

    Let the games begin…

  2. mom4
    September 18, 2012

    Iker Casillas
    Raphael Varane.
    Pepe
    Marcelo
    Arbeloa
    Cristiano Ronaldo
    Xabi Alonso
    Michael Essien
    Angel Di María
    Sami Khedira
    Gonzalo Higuaín

    Hmmmmmmm?

    Go Yaya and co.!

    • mom4
      September 18, 2012

      Is teh Ramos injured or on THE list?

  3. mom4
    September 18, 2012

    Maybe something obscure like Fox Sports en Espanol will show the match live.

    Fox Deportes is the only one to have it live that I can find.

  4. simple_barcafan
    September 18, 2012

    wow..Mou has reverted back to his old tactics..being ultra-defensive against City…Alonso, Khedira and Essien..No Ozil, Kaka or Modric…When things get tough, this is what a coach who is supposed to be a brilliant tactician does…

    • simple_barcafan
      September 18, 2012

      And yes..the game is played in the Santiago Bernabeu…

  5. nia
    September 18, 2012

    Man C seem to be happy to sit back and defend.

  6. nzm
    September 18, 2012

    Can someone please stop Isaiah from sniffing solvents before he posts?

    Thanks. 😆

    • simple_barcafan
      September 18, 2012

      After the uncertain pre-season..way to answer their critics!!

  7. nzm
    September 18, 2012

    Each time that I say that Silva is over-rated, he scores.

    So I’ma gonna say, “Silva is soooo very, very over-rated.” 😀

    • mom4
      September 18, 2012

      Yeah, how he ever gets picked ahead of Santi for the NT is baffling. Over-rated X The Yaya!

      Now score, dude!

  8. simple_barcafan
    September 18, 2012

    I miss YAYA..I really do..If only we had kept him..*sigh*

    • mom4
      September 18, 2012

      If only we had kept him he’d be one sad and miserable player because he wouldn’t be getting enough play time.

      I think it would be cool to get him back when he is a little past his prime and not minding riding the bench a little.

      • simple_barcafan
        September 18, 2012

        You are right…It sure would be great to get him back though..But am not sure if that will work out..I would like to see if we later on can get Eto’o though..for a Larssen like cameo..That will be great..

    • nzm
      September 18, 2012

      Funny how Yaya always protects the littlest forward. At Barca it was Messi, now it’s Silva at City.

      Of course, Messi would have scored from the 2 chances that Yaya gave Silva!

  9. mom4
    September 18, 2012

    City is gonna wake up soon. I just know it. They can start by NOT CLEARING THE BALL DIRECTLY TO EE!

    • nzm
      September 18, 2012

      What’s up with that? Do they think that they are Barca? 🙂

    • nzm
      September 18, 2012

      And Deko!!!!!!! But that was all Yaya!

    • Blau-Grenade
      September 18, 2012

      The Yaya could have Killed Madrid, but he spared them.

      • swamidigital
        September 18, 2012

        Yes he should have scored, now its tied.

  10. nzm
    September 18, 2012

    Damn – as soon as Maicon came off, I knew that Marcelo or Ronaldo was going to exploit that side.

    • swamidigital
      September 18, 2012

      Marcelo got a lucky bounce though

    • Blau-Grenade
      September 18, 2012

      Worry not, the Yaya is still on!

    • swamidigital
      September 18, 2012

      MC has been dangerous breaking against RM, hopefully the get another nice counterattacking chance.

  11. nia
    September 18, 2012

    shooting practise for EE. COME ON CITEH!!!

  12. swamidigital
    September 18, 2012

    Wow didn’t see that coming

    • swamidigital
      September 18, 2012

      Bah they handed it all back.

  13. Blau-Grenade
    September 18, 2012

    The Yaya is still on the pitch!!

  14. Blau-Grenade
    September 18, 2012

    What a gaffe by Joe Heart.

  15. nzm
    September 18, 2012

    Damn……… Zabaleta ain’t Maicon.

    • Blau-Grenade
      September 18, 2012

      Yes, I think that substitution cost Citeh the mulah!!!

      • nzm
        September 18, 2012

        I think that Maicon was tired, but Mancini didn’t do his homework. He took Maicon off when Ronaldo moved over to the right. When that happened, Ronaldo moved back over to where he’s most dangerous.

  16. Jim
    September 18, 2012

    Rotten defending by standing off their men and an inability to keep the ball. Is this the best the EPL has to offer? Jeez!

  17. nia
    September 18, 2012

    As much as i dislike EE, they were the better team. Man C played like amatures. No real movement, gave the ball away A LOT and seemed like they didn’t have much skill bar Yaya. The result was fair and did yo’ll see Mou’s celebration? If they had lost this match, s*it would have been flying all over Madrid.

  18. simple_barcafan
    September 18, 2012

    Malaga owns big spenders Zenit…

  19. September 18, 2012

    Varane? I had forgotten RM even had a player named Varane. Didn’t they buy him last year? What happened to him?

    • September 19, 2012

      He’s a teenaged defender they bought and he did actually get decent time playing last season and is considered to be really good. Considered able backup to first-team Pepe and Ramos. Can’t fault Madrid on that one.

  20. Bill
    September 18, 2012

    Does Fabregas really offer us anything Yaya wouldn’t have, had we kept him and used him the way Fabregas is being used? I mean, everything Yaya I’d doing at city, we all knew he was capable of because we saw it everyone he was pushed forward. Plus we wouldn’t be worried about getting another defender since he could cover there too.

    • Bill
      September 18, 2012

      *Yaya is doing* and *everytime he was pushed forward* Damn auto complete

    • mom4
      September 18, 2012

      Doesn’t matter at all how he compares to Cesc. He’d still have been behind Xavi, Iniesta, and Busi for a starter roll. He wanted to start every game so he left.

      Remember, he wanted to leave. We didn’t push him out.

      • Bill
        September 18, 2012

        My point is Pep looked at him as mainly a defensive midfielder, and subsequently claimed he couldn’t give him more minutes. But Yaya was much more than just a defensive midfielder.

        Even though Fabregas complains, he does get lots of minutes on the pitch, Pep even went as far as changing formations in order to accommodate him. Not knocking Fabregas, but every time I watch Yaya, I can’t help wondering what if Pep had made the same effort for him as he does for Fabregas, and to some extent, Mascherano too.

        Yayas case wasn’t that he was benched, but the amount of time he was being benched. He was sitting there for 4-5 games, then he plays one, then he doesn’t play again for a while. Even when the game was over, Pep wouldn’t trot him out there and give someone like Xavi a break. That was the reason he felt he had to leave.

    • simple_barcafan
      September 18, 2012

      He could play AM, DM and even as a defender. But as mom4 stated above, he wanted playing time and Pep admired Busquets. So, there is no point thinking about it..Also Cesc was bought as a replacement for Xavi in the long run, so it is not like we bought Cesc to replace Yaya….But We sure do miss him..great player. great person. fans still love him..And he has stated that he would like to return to Barcelona one day..

  21. K_legit in Oz
    September 18, 2012

    Thanks a lot Citeh for giving the EE momentum :-\

    • Judas Pissed
      September 18, 2012

      They beat us to win the Super Cup – and that didn’t give them any momentum…

  22. simple_barcafan
    September 18, 2012

    This match in fact showed how susceptible RM defense is…One Essien was taken off ( subsequently Khedira)…they seemed so exposed..Their attack is strong. But none track back..Higuain, Benzema, Ronaldo, Di Maria even Ozil is lax in defending..The onus is on Khedira and Alonso always..

  23. September 18, 2012

    Don’t worry, Cules! I’ve noticed a trend this season, in that whenever I go shopping, RM loses. I’ll make sure to do some retail therapy this weekend 😛

  24. simple_barcafan
    September 18, 2012

    Admist all this chaos, I forgot…Excellent humourous post Isaiah..Your wit matches your humor..

    • simple_barcafan
      September 18, 2012

      And what with 300-0? Is it a subtle reference to the movie 300, as we take on Sparta-k 😛

  25. September 18, 2012

    Fun read, Isaiah. Thanks! If something doesn’t go our way tomorrow, I’ll make sure to give UNICEF a call.

  26. September 18, 2012

    Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but did anyone else interpret Mou’s celebration as “off, thank goodness we won, else I could’ve been fired, what with one win in five games and a completely bizarre selection”?

    • Obii
      September 19, 2012

      I think its more a case of “God, I wish I had been a good enough player so I could do celebrations like these! Just look at Ronaldo, he looks so boss when he does it! Here! I’m just gonna have a go!”

  27. September 18, 2012

    Glad to see normal service resume. This much this early was unnerving to say the least..

  28. mom4
    September 18, 2012

    barcastuff
    [1/2] Squad for Spartak Moscow game: Valdes, Pinto, Alves, Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Bartra, Adriano, Busquets, Song
    barcastuff‏@
    [2/2] Squad for Spartak Moscow game: Xavi, Thiago, Cesc, Pedro, Alexis, Messi, Villa, Deulofeu, Tello #fcblive #ucl

    Oh Jonathan and Andreu, what have you done to yourselves?

    • simple_barcafan
      September 18, 2012

      Fontas was willing to leave…But the club couldn’t find anyone…But Santos..well..He knew this was coming…

  29. September 18, 2012

    Also, small spelling mistake in the post, Emery is the coach’s name, Emory is the university in Atlanta.

  30. Gogah
    September 19, 2012

    I want to see starts for Villa and Bartra today.

    Stupid Citeh, cant defend a lead for 2 mins with what 10 defenders.
    i think on principle, i should just refrain from watching any ee game.

  31. September 19, 2012

    Sighhhhh Why is it that whenever Citeh plays, The Legend of The Yaya rears its head? We all know what happened: He wanted more playing time, more money, and wanted to put pressure on Guardiola to make the playing time happen. Guardiola rightly said “Hell no, and there’s the door.” His sale was an excellent bit of business for the club, a rarity for us these days.

    Also, for the style that our club plays, Busquets is the better midfielder, hands down.

    We also shouldn’t forget that The Yaya took his share of stick when he was with us. Slow, slow to pass, lumbering, dwells on the ball too long, back to play too much, etc, etc. In our system, those things would still be true. In Citeh’s system, he can do more of what he does well.

    And yesterday, it’s worth noting that he was rather lax on tracking back and helping defend. Had he done more of that, Citeh might have been able to turn the trick, not that it would have kept RM from coming out of the group, probably along with Citeh.

    Mancini blamed everyone except himself. Joe Hart had a hell of a match from what I saw, and Mancini says that Hart has to focus on keeping. Zabaleta was trying to do his Alves impression, leaving the wing as a yawning chasm. Mancini also has to answer for the system/substitutions that allowed Marcelo to, essentially, play as a free man. Citeh was too stupid to be allowed to win that match.

    Elsewhere

    –Call me a smug bastard, but this group doesn’t worry me at all. I wish it were tougher, so that we could get some testing under fire before the knockout stages. We’re coming out, even if something crazy happens and we come out in second.

    –The buzz that Villa will start is growing. I see him as more likely to start this match than the Liga encounter, the quality(ies) of the opponent(s) notwithstanding.

    –Vilanova mentioned the return of Abidal in his presser yesterday. I’d say that means more likely than not. Only question is when.

    –Malaga!!!! Remember when they were the fouling, Messi-stomping mediocrities? Look at ’em now, complete with chip on their shoulders. Very cool.

  32. September 19, 2012

    Yay!!! Champions League is back!

    My lineup:

    ——VV——-
    Alves-Pique-Masch-Adriano
    Thiago-Busi-Cesc
    Pedro-Messi-Villa

    Unai always has a surprise for us. Hoping to see a good game and a win for us.

  33. barca96
    September 19, 2012

    Why you gotta be such a Debbie Downer?

    -Folks get excited after being many points ahead of Madrid, wrong.

    -Folks miss, make compliments and wondered out loud “what if Yaya was still here”, wrong.

    Fyi, someone suggested that if Pep played Yaya like how Yaya is played at City which is CM or AM, he could’ve had more playing time.

    I myself was angry at Pep for not trying Yaya out in Keita’s position, B2B.

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that Yaya is better than Busi. Not me and not from what I read here. He offers way more offensively but I’d rather be on the safe side and have someone who is better at defending.

    No, I didn’t think that Yaya dwells on the ball much. He dribbles from time to time which always created havoc. It’s risky but sometimes it’s worth it.

    He had a better ball control, composure, skills and a bigger offensive threat compared to Keita, not to mention a better defender.

    What is now so wrong with people getting excited on Yaya whenever City plays? Do you have something against him? I’m not a techie but perhaps you could ask Tarun to ban his name from this space.

    • September 19, 2012

      Not being Debbie Downer. Just applying some perspective, that people can take or leave. If the player were still here, he’d still be sulking, and still playing behind Busquets. We wouldn’t have bought Song, and maybe not Mascherano.

      When someone offers a counterpoint, it isn’t being Debbie Downer, or suggesting that anything at all is wrong with people getting excited about him playing for Citeh. People can do whatever they want. But revisionist history is something to be wary of.

      Do I have something against him? No. No more than any other player that I am accused of having something against, which is nothing at all. I don’t care about players, except as they relate to the club that I love. When they are gone, to hell with ’em. My sole point is regarding the “Oh, lawd, I wish we still had Yaya,” stuff. I disagree, and my point is as valid as anyone else’s, and shouldn’t be attacked simply because it doesn’t toe the party line, whatever it might be.

  34. barca96
    September 19, 2012

    @Josep

    Says 2 of the 3? 4? African kids impressed you alot. Which one is it?

    The answer to your question was in my original comment itself.

    Wasn’t too impressed with the rest though
    especially the African kids.
    They had poor first touches and don’t really
    have the tiki taka in them. They went for power
    and athletism instead of slow build up play.

    Only Embwelle and Adama impressed me from the lot.
    Thankfully they had a lot of pace and made
    good use of it especially Adama who was flying
    on the right wing time and time again.

  35. barca96
    September 19, 2012

    Damn Opera browser. It was meant as a reply to Kxevin.

    I do agree that he is lazy. At City and during his last year with us.

    But you gotta take into account that he is playing as an AM at City and not a DM. Not only the positions are different but the team’s tactics too.

  36. barca96
    September 19, 2012

    Barcelona captain Carles Puyol replies
    “Thank you!” after insults and death
    wishes by a Real Madrid fan on Twitter
    #fcblive [ @carlespuyol ]

    Why would anyone do this to Puyol?? Did he offend Madrid recently? Even so, he doesn’t deserve this.

    • September 19, 2012

      Now that Catalanisme is becoming stronger, along with the attendant attention, look for nationalism to also rear its head. Things will get worse before they get better.

    • barca96
      September 19, 2012

      I think racism from fans mostly likely but how about from players? Don’t think it’s happening ever since the John Terry incident.

      Gosh that guy single handedly made a big issue on pre match handshake. There were even talks of scraping the pre match handshake. All cause of him.

      The kinds of things he went through since 2008…

    • nzm
      September 19, 2012

      Quote from the article:

      Creating a more open atmosphere for gays in professional soccer would also make teams more competitive, some argue. Tatjana Eggeling, a former professor of cultural anthropology who advises gay professional athletes, including members of the Bundesliga, argues that hiding their sexuality is an enormous distraction for gay players and keeps them from performing to the best of their abilities.

      For the same reasons, closeted athletes are also more likely to be injured during games and in practice. (My emphaisis in bold.)

      Crikey – what does that say about the Barca players? 😆

      Joke aside, it is an excellent article, but I do fail to see the correlation between being gay and getting injured more often.

      At the same time I do understand the players’ reticence. There can be all the platitudes and reassurances in the world, but most of these people making them don’t have to put up with the bigots and homophobes who can make life utterly miserable for gay folk – especially for those in the limelight.

      They also risk being called the “gay” player by every single journalist who will write about them, and emphasize their sexuality.

      Equality will come when sexual preference is never mentioned, or when heterosexual players are described as “straight” in all press stories. 🙂

  37. simple_barcafan
    September 19, 2012

    Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Pique Mascherano Adriano – Xavi Busquets Cesc – Pedro Messi Tello

    via @barcastuff

    • September 19, 2012

      Barca Bench: Pinto, Montoya, Bartra, Song, Thiago, Villa, Alexis (barcastuff)

    • Jafri
      September 19, 2012

      The line-up writes itself. Subs for Villa and Alexis and Thiago I’d bet.

  38. simple_barcafan
    September 19, 2012

    Lets go!!!This is SPARTA BARCA!!!

    • simple_barcafan
      September 19, 2012

      I know!! it seems I am talking to myself…

      • September 19, 2012

        I can’t watch this game, so I’m gonna rely on you to provide colorful commentary 😀

        • simple_barcafan
          September 19, 2012

          Ha!! My “commentary” skills lack the finesse and the humorous wit that some ppl possess so abundantly here…But don’t worry..pretty soon the mob will arrive.. 😛

  39. September 19, 2012

    This midfield looks interesting. I would prefer not starting Xavi because he needs rest.

    • simple_barcafan
      September 19, 2012

      I was hoping Song would start..And Villa..

      • September 19, 2012

        I wonder why Tito is so reluctant to start Villa? He’s been fit for a while now.

  40. Jafri
    September 19, 2012

    So no more liveblogs for a while now? 🙁

    • simple_barcafan
      September 19, 2012

      Yup..Seems so..Calvin is busy…

    • September 19, 2012

      Calvin is going to Malawi until November. Make this space your own 😛

  41. TITO
    September 19, 2012

    Well, watching Blue Hawaii, just prior to the match, it’s kind of relaxing :).

  42. September 19, 2012

    Spartak often plays a relatively narrow formation with their wingers tucked in & their FBs acting as the primary source of width. From what I’ve seen – they play very direct, break quickly and use a great deal of movement.

    Their base system is a kind of 4-2-3-1. In build up though they often switch into a kind of 3-5-2 with one holding mid dropping between the 2 CBs and the FB pushed high as wing backs. In the defensive phase they often organize as a 4-4-1-1.

    When he was at Valencia Emery always looked to pull wide players from at least one flank into central midfield to create numerical advantage there – even if it meant leaving one flank open.

    I’d guess he’s going to try something similar today. Barca is going to need to use space on the flanks and width effectively today. Likely why Tello is playing. He needs to have a positive match as does Pedro.

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