The Grind Arriveth: Barça – Sevilla

Oh hey now it's my ball, gimmegimme

Copa Preview: Barça – Sevilla, Tuesday 4pm, ESPN Deportes

It’s probably clear by now to even the most rabid of Sevilla fans that the rojiblancos only have one legitimate shot at a trophy this year. They’re in a battle with Mallorca for a Champions League spot in La Liga and they face CSKA Moscow in the first knockout round of the current CL. A trip to February in Russia sounds like quite the vacation, indeed, but at least they host the second leg. So what’s left to them is to battle for the Copa del Rey title, which they last won in 2006-07 by beating Gimnástica Segoviana, Rayo Vallecano, Real Betis*, Depor, and Getafe in that order.* So they weren’t exactly going through a tremendous gauntlet of teams, though they would have faced Barça in the final had Getafe not produced the miraculous 4-0 destruction of the blaugrana in the return leg, after Barça won the first leg 5-2 and one Leo Messi officially arrived on the worldwide stage with this stunner.

So Sevilla will enter this match knowing it’s the end of their season if they’re eliminated and that will make them a very dangerous team. Sure, they’re down a few players thanks to African Cup of Nations duty and that does help us out quite a bit, but they’re still dangerous as hell, especially if Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo decide to play better than they have in the past against us. They’re not hurting as badly as they might have been because Koffi Romaric and Arouna Koné were not selected by Cote D’Ivoire (because The Yaya is going to be the playmaker!).

Their full squad list: Palop, Konko, Drago, Escudé, Duscher, Fernando Navarro, Renato, Jesús Navas, Capel, Perotti, Koné, Negredo, Romaric, Lolo, Dani Jiménez, José Carlos, Cala, Redondo.

The last four players on the list are canteranos so they may or may not get used. José Carlos has 3 league appearances for Sevilla over the last 2 seasons and is a forward, so he’ll probably be behind Negredo in the pecking order. Does anyone know if Dani Jiménez is Manolo Jiménez’s son? It would be interesting if he were, but it is also quite possible that it is merely a coincidence they have the same last name.

But it’s not just sporting news that is currently going on in Sevilla, where club president Jose Maria del Nido is currently under investigation for, as I understand it, creating a criminal enterprise to gain access to municipal funds. I don’t know many of the details behind these allegations, but I do know that the presiding judge in the case has suggested 14 years in prison for del Nido. Whether anything will come of it, I have no idea, but it could mean a lot of financial trouble for Sevilla and so I’m sure things are not perfect over in the Sevilla world. Couple that with a loss in the Copa and we’re talking a potential meltdown of Betis proportions, though that might be taking it a bit far.

As for Barça, we’re currently looking at being without The Yaya due to ACN duty and Keita and Abidal through injury. Messi will return to action as well, which is good news, but that’s really where the assured lineup stops. I agree with Sport’s idea that it’s Pinto, Messi, and nine other players who ill start and that Guardiola will probably surprise us with what looks on the surface to be an awkward lineup. Is this the match we’ll see Piqué, Márquez, or Chygrynsky play the DM role or will Busi be pressed into service yet again? I think that Iniesta will also get the start despite it being only his second game back from the injury he sustained against Atlante in the CWC.

It’s not like we can take Sevilla or the upcoming trip to Tenerife the least bit lightly. We got lucky when our draw with Villarreal didn’t bite us in the ass because Real Madrid couldn’t come up with a goal against Osasuna (!), but we can’t count on that happening again and need to get off to a solid start in the Copa so that we can rest a couple of players in the away leg next week.

So here’s my lineup: Pinto, Alves, Chygrynsky, Puyol, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro!, Ibra, Messi.

That’s a serious lineup for a serious match and even though it should mean we’re playing without Xavi against Tenerife, that match isn’t until Sunday so he should be well rested for that, especially if we can put in a solid performance tomorrow and keep him out of the lineup in the second match against Sevilla (so that he can play against Sevilla in the following match, of course—oy vey, right?). Ibra is suspended for Tenerife, so he’ll get the nod tomorrow, I’m pretty sure. Henry is unlikely to make 2 starts in a row, despite his solid effort against Villarreal, but that’s just age and the strain on the knees talking, not anything personal.

I’m not particularly concerned with the Copa this year because we just won it and if we’re looking a little bit weaker in the league than I’d like, meaning getting bumped from the Copa wouldn’t be the biggest disaster in the world. Naturally I’m rooting for us to run the table again and get another 6 trophies, but that’s 1) very unlikely and 2) capable of backfiring on us if we pick up any important injuries over the next couple of months. We were fortunate as all hell last year on the medical front and that is what allowed us to eventually win everything (that still sounds really cool), but will the stars align like that again? Unlikely, says the pessimist in me. The optimist in me, though, thinks the pessimist should shut his stupid trap or eat a knuckle sandwich. The optimist is not a pacifist, it turns out.

Guardiola is a fierce competitor, so much so that I bet he’s a real dick to play Monopoly or Scrabble with, so I imagine that he’ll get the boys nicely fired up after that lackluster second half against Villarreal nearly cost us our table position. This is an important month for many reasons, meaning that, if he values the Copa (and I think he does), Guardiola will be fielding some intense lineups in an attempt to consolidate the league position, move on in the Copa, and prepare the squad for the trip to Stuttgart.

Official Prediction: 2-1, goals by Messi and Busi. Yup, Busi. Awkward celebration to come as well. Their goal will be garbage, but will also cost us the chance to rest players in Sevilla.

It’s going to be raining matches this month, so let’s get wild and crazy and win them all, right? And, folks, is your preview. Let’s hear your views in the comments.

*You might remember the Sevilla-Betis matches because then Sevilla coach Juande Ramos was knocked out by a bottle thrown from the crowd.

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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. Blow-Granite
    January 4, 2010

    Predicted Lineup:
    Alves – Marquez – Milito – Maxwell
    Dos Santos – Chygrynski – Iniesta
    Bojan – Ibra – Pedro!

  2. Flippy
    January 4, 2010

    Isaiah, you’re predicted lineup is almost the same as Ramzi’s except that you have P! instead of Bojan. Two things that confuse me:
    – Don’t suspensions carry in the Copa or can you choose to carry them in the Copa and have the player allowed to play the next league match.
    – Do we play any Atletic or Juvenil A players against Sevilla or against Tenerife? This is the youngsters competition. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pep played:
    Alves Milito Fontas Muniesa
    Thiago Jonathan
    Messi Bojan P!

    My prediction is:
    Alves Puyol Chygrynskiy Maxwell
    Iniesta Thiago (constantly switching playmaking roles)
    Messi Ibra Bojan

    • January 4, 2010

      Flippy, from what I understand, RFEF sometimes allows league suspensions to be fulfilled in the Copa and sometimes not. I think red cards carry to the Copa, but accumulated yellows do not. But I could be massively wrong on that. I haven’t figured out whether there’s any choice on the club’s side or not or if there’s some rule out there that allows some leeway. RFEF is notorious for resolving matters at the last second and with a “cause we can” attitude that requires, they feel, no explanation for decisions handed down.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Bojan got the start either, but you’d think if he was going to start one of Sevilla or Tenerife, it would be the latter, especially if Ibra is able to play against Sevilla, but is suspended for Tenerife. I’d rather see Bojan get his minutes against a weaker side (Tenerife) if we’re approaching Copa matches as “must-win”. I’d prefer a kiddie lineup, but I just don’t see Guardiola doing that.

    • January 4, 2010

      Also, I didn’t read Ramzi’s post while putting this up, so I actually didn’t know about the lineup thing.

  3. Tutomate
    January 4, 2010

    We were fortunate as all hell last year on the medical front and that is what allowed us to eventually win everything (that still sounds really cool), but will the stars align like that again? Unlikely, says the pessimist in me. The optimist in me, though, thinks the pessimist should shut his stupid trap or eat a knuckle sandwich. The optimist is not a pacifist, it turns out.

    That is so funny. I almost crashed when I was readIng this. Yes I drive a read. Thanks iPhone. *

    Isaiah I love your previews.

    * I also type and drive, a deadly combination.

    • Randy
      January 5, 2010

      Usually, I dislike negative postings, but…

      WTF? Show some responsibility. Are we supposed to be impressed that you drive an d read? I don’t even want to think about all the poor people who have been maimed by dumbass drivers like you.

      Grow up and put down the f***ing iPod when you drive.

      Very sincere apologies to all the other posters. But some things come before football blogs.

      • jnelson
        January 5, 2010

        I thought this was a FC Barcelona blog established for intelligent conversations about FC Barcelona, not MothersAgainstTextingandDriving???

        • Catalanblood
          January 5, 2010

          Randy has got an important point but he could’ve said it in a better way. Nonetheless, what’s the point of an “intelligent blog” if the readers are dead *knocks on wood*.

  4. stephen
    January 4, 2010

    Alves – Marquez – chygrynski – Maxwell
    Dos Santos – busi – Iniesta
    messi – Ibra – Pedro!

    and barcelona wins 3 – 1, goals by ibrah (who really needs to redeem himself after that awful villareal match) and pedro.

    and he’ll two as he needs to save messi, and iniesta, for the shizz load of games coming up. and leave one till the dead end just in case.

    should be a good one!

  5. Peter
    January 4, 2010

    i think barca will start like this
    Pinto Gk
    Alves RB Maxwell(if abidal is not fit) LB Puyol and Chygry in CB
    CM:iniesta and Xavi DM: Busi
    Messi RW Ibra ST Pedro! LW

      • Kari
        January 4, 2010

        Mind games, Isaiah. Mind games.

        And it looks like it’s working


  6. Miguel
    January 4, 2010

    i call marquez in the middle(you heard it first here folks) next to xavi and tony starks the iron man although busi or jdubs may start as iniesta’s still recouping from his little niggle. this is cabbage patch kid krkic’s competition though, and think he’ll get the nod ahead of henry on the flank or somewhere. nothing personal against henry of course. i also see the nasty starting instead of pique. a milito appearance would be sweeeeet!

    i found these articles by the dude who does la liga loca:


    second one’s about xerex. makes me really appreciate what great a state barca’s board(minus this whole election thingy)& team is in.

  7. Kari
    January 4, 2010

    I actually don’t think that Pep will start Ibra for two reasons

    1) Bojan plays in the CDR, nevermind that it is a big game. It is still the CDR and that’s CTT (Cuddly Toy Territory).*

    2) Pep will use this chance to a) rest Ibra or b) use his suspention (if that does in fact apply to CDR, which I think it does

    2b) Ibra as a super-sub is, for me, a more inviting option.

    *Let’s be real guys. He’s been “relegated”** to the CDR, and if Pep takes his only ‘automatic’ start and gives it to Ibra, who had a cr@ptastic game v Villareal, he might as well kick some puppies and step on some flowers. This is the face he’ll make, do you REALLY want to have this (* on your conscious, Isaiah? Do you REALLY?

    ** I don’t really think that Bojan’s been relegated to the CDR. I’m not trying to start anything…unless you guys want to (Eh? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to ME? * ). I’m just saying that the CDR is the “Bojan and Pinto” competition and I think a lot of people think that. Am I right?

    • January 4, 2010

      But see, I have no soul, so making Banjo Crickets sob is just another meaningless human concern I do not have to worry about.

      • Kari
        January 4, 2010

        Oh really? Care to repeat that to him * ?


        Didn’t think so 😀 .

  8. Tyler
    January 4, 2010

    on a rather trivial note. how bad are sevillas jerseys this year? the lettering is awful imo.

  9. Kxevin
    January 4, 2010

    Ibrahimovic is suspended v Tenerife, so he is available for this match which is, frankly, one in which he will be needed more. I think as a super-sub (since we don’t want to crush the heart of CT), he’s just the ticket. Same for Messi.

    If we put the boot in, I could even see Milito getting some pitch time, though that is more likely against Tenerife than Sevilla. I think that Pep’s hunger for trophies verges on insatiable, and he wants the Copa, at a minimum.

    My predicted lineup:

    Alves Pique Txignasty Maxwell
    Dos Santos Busquets Xavi
    Pedro! Cuddly Toy Henry

    I think that Guardiola will be curious to see if Henry can bang out two good performances in a row, and he works very well with CT. Messi, Iniesta and Ibrahimovic are in reserve, in case we need them, and off we go.

    On another note, Jeffren Sr. is talking shit about his son leaving if he doesn’t get more time, once he is fully rehabbed from his injury. And you know what? Jeffren is talented. But if pops wants to roll like that, buh-bye. I am completely against ANY player, from The Yaya to Messi to Jeffren, holding playing time and potential departure as a stick against the club. If he doesn’t want to play for us, let him go somewhere else and not win silver.

  10. poipoi
    January 4, 2010

    I’d go for:

    xavi——-busi—–more JDS 😉

    iniesta ibra and pedro! 3 super-supersubs

    marquez+chigro is sooo risky 🙁 Pep can do many things like trying chyg again as DM and busi up, xaviniesta etc… and he almost always if not always chooses well. I like the idea of trying some non-starters in la copa and having elephants in the bench. If we don’t sign anyone, which is fine, I’d give JDS some more minutes in la copa, specially when you have another game to win in Sevilla… don’t you think?

    • Kari
      January 4, 2010


      Can it be? You put in Titi? C’est magnifique! 😛

      LOL! Jk.

      I agree with the Marquez-Txignasty combination. An off form Rafa and a-still-to-be-intergrated Ukrainian is a danger combo. You know if Yaya was available, I’d like to see Yaya with Txigrinsky as CBs. They both speak the same language right? That way you could have the passing of Txigrinsky and the physicality of Yaya (not to mention the positioning).

      Also, if you play Busi in front of them, you wouldn’t have to worry about a silly give-away (although, you can never be sure). DM is not really Busi’s ‘natural’ position–he just has the ability to play there and do a decent job. Yaya could step in…though I would also put in Keita for the Invisible Man job. Just cuz he’s so good at it 🙂 . Or maybe Pique as DM. Now THAT would be interesting

      Not a fool-proof plan, but it would be a cool experiment nonetheless.

      In the ‘Wipe Immediately From My Memory’ group, goes this * picture of Rooney and TB. Wish I had never seen it.


  11. Ethan
    January 4, 2010

    Nobody Thinks Milito Will Get A Start? Surely This Would Be The Time To Start Him. Also when watching our craptastic game over the weekend i heard the announcers talking about Pep signing a contract worth 5 million euros a year… Havent Looked into it, but i was wondering if this was at all true.

    • January 4, 2010

      I mean, sure, why not start him? I think the lineup I would put out there is

      Pinto, Puyol, Marquez, Milito, Maxwell, Chygrynskiy, JDS, Iniesta, Pedro!, Bojan, Messi.

      But I’m predicting the lineup Guardiola will go with, not really saying who should start. I like the idea of giving those who don’t normally start the chance to win the Copa, which is what I do in FIFA10 until the final, which is a freakin’ final. Come what may, the kiddies need time to develop and I think the Copa is perfect for that. It’s just that I also think, as Kevin said above, that Pep’s desire for trophies insatiable, perhaps made extra so by him thinking of winning it all again and bailing if Rossell gets elected.

  12. Peter
    January 4, 2010

    jonathan will probaly come on fro iniesta at 60th minute so he can rest from injury and you can’tg play both of them at the same time. If not thiago will make a debut for 2010, but when is Gai going to be used. Ths is what i predict for Tenerife
    Alves Marquez Pique Maxwell
    Jonathan! Busi Xavi
    Pedro Messi Henry
    subs: Gai, Bojan, Thiago, Iniesta, Puyol, Abidal, Pinto

    • Ethan
      January 4, 2010

      Remember that PINTO always plays the Copa games.

    • lovelymofo
      January 5, 2010

      I’m not going to lie, that whole thing made me laugh for a good five minutes. Pedro’s teef! And AngrrrrIbra! Haha. That was awesome.

    • Vj
      January 5, 2010

      I would have woken up my neighbours if I understood all of that.. Can anyone explain the conversation with P! and Pep?

      AgrrrrIbra.. you don’t wanna mess with him..

      • Maki
        January 5, 2010

        Well I’m not an expert, but I’ll try:

        Pep: (after Pedro faints) Pedro! What’s happening with you?
        Pedro:I had another flash forward. You were speaking to the press and you said: “The draw will make us stronger”
        Pep: Pedro, the future is not written. We,with our strenght,can change it…-Villareal scores- Shit!Pedro…The draw will make us stronger.
        Pedro: Man, I saw it…

          • Vj
            January 5, 2010

            ROFLMAO!! Mao was literally rolling on the floor!! I get it.. thanks..

  13. Tajh
    January 4, 2010

    So far is reporting that as always Pinto would be in goal with a back line of Alves-Puyol-Marquez-Maxwell and a forward line of Messi-Ibra-Bojan.The midfield to them is a puzzle as they ..only point out that Iniesta is a genuine stater 2moro.

    • Kxevin
      January 5, 2010

      I think that Sport knows abour as much as we do about Guardiola’s intentions at this point. Not a big fan of the Messi/CT/Ibra front line, though CT could certainly get some chais-based clean uo stuff, as Messi and Ibra wreak havoc.

      But both Messi and Ibra are the kinds of dominant players that CT, with his fragile ego thesedays, tends to shrink in the presence of. P! and Henry as mates would make him a lot more comfy and confident. Not that I give a rat’s about his confidence or comfort, but I’m just sayin’, is all.

      Even depleted, Sevilla is a real team. I would’t mess about with the back line too much, because away goals are critjcal in two-legged affairs. I could vertainly see Alves/Pique/Puyol/Maxwell, for that precise reason. I’m still thinking that we’ll see us some big Ukranian, though.

      I’ a little nervous going into this one. I wish that I had more confidence in CT, because I think that we can end this tie at home, with a 3 or 4-goal runout. But fir that, scoring early will be crucial, because we all know that a depleted Sevilla is going to park it, and play on the counter, hoping to steal an away goal or two. Bummer that Abidal isn’t full-on ready. His pace would come in handy.

  14. Kxevin
    January 5, 2010

    The Viera short-term contract stuff is popping up again. People are citing a confirmed 18-month offer, no fiscal terms disclosed. The concern for Vieira is rumored to be playing time once The Yaya and Keita return, since the French DM wants to feature in a final World Cup for him.

    Yes, we all know what Guardiola said about no January signings, but I’m calling bullshit on that one.

    • vicsoc8
      January 5, 2010

      I’d love for Viera to come plug the holes for a while, but I don’t think it will happen at all.

      We all know Pep places his trust in the youth players. Not to mention that we have two players who Pep uses as defensive mids, and some defenders who can step in in emergencies.

      On top of this we will almost certainly either bring in a younger midfielder in the summer or promote at least one of the youngsters (or both). I just don’t see Vieira playing more than one or two games this month, and nothing after that, and like Guardiola said “signing a player for one month is a Madrid move”.

      On another note, I’d like to see us pick up Veloso next summer. This would free up Busquets to play any of the midfield positions when needed, which I think he is versatile enough to do (except maybe Iniesta’s role, but he would play more like Keita).

  15. Dave
    January 5, 2010

    One thing I don’t understand is how a Madrid win against Osasuna would have cost Barca a league position. Barca and RM would have been tied on points, and I thought that after that the determining factor was head-to-head. And because we won the Clasico, wouldn’t we remain in first place?

  16. MoSSi
    January 5, 2010

    Did you guys knew that Yaya won the ivorian golden ball? Ahead of Drogba..

  17. vicsoc8
    January 5, 2010

    My preferred lineup for today:

    Alves – Puyol – Marquez – Maxwell
    Xavi – Busquets – Iniesta
    Messi – Ibra – Bojan

  18. Blow-Granite
    January 5, 2010

    I am starting a petition for Marquez and Milito (M&M) for CB’s and Chygnasty for DM. The M&M combination worked really well in ancient history when King Rijkard ruled, and was ultimately overthrown. Chyggy needs to show that he is worth the dough we splashed on him.

  19. Peter
    January 5, 2010

    instead the line up is:
    Alves Chygry Milto Maxwell
    Thiago Marquez Iniesta
    Messi Bojan Pedro!

    • mike in africa
      January 5, 2010

      a pretty good try tho… you must admit 😀

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