BFB Interview: Ryan Knapp

This is the first installment of a new series: BFB Interviews. It is designed to broaden the horizons not only of this blogger (who needs it), but also of the blog as a whole by asking intelligent and qualified bloggers and thinkers from around the Internet to answer uneducated questions.

In preparation for our second leg Copa del Rey match at the Sanchez Pizjuan, I’ve asked fellow La Liga blogger and all-around smart guy Ryan Knapp to answer a few questions. Check out the Spanish-language blog he’s a part of called El Desmarque and his personal site here and then enjoy his responses.

Barcelona Football Blog: Sevilla obviously has the upper hand because of the result of the first leg in Barcelona, but will that result change the tactical approach? Will Sevilla park the bus, so to speak, and take their chances or will they try to compress our lines again with up-tempo defending? And if they do do the latter, do you have confidence against Barça’s A squad, assuming Guardiola opts for that approach?

Ryan Knapp: It is hard to tell what type of style they will play. The one thing that will hurt us for sure is the absence of Kanoute up front as he is playing in the ACN. We normally do play an attacking style, but we also have been having trouble with some of the smaller teams this season, which is always our MO, playing to the level of the competition.

If we do push forward and play our top level of soccer, we can definitely compete with Barcelona. Sevilla perpetually hang around in the 3rd-4th spot every season, and we do not challenge for the title based on the fact that we lose to lower table teams.

Renato just came out in saying that if we defend with 11 behind the ball, we might as well just give them the game. So, that should tell you their thoughts.

BFB: Who are the injury/absence concerns for Sevilla? Are any of them irreplaceable?

RK: Kanoute playing in the ACN is big for us as Luis Fabiano is still out with a grade 2-3 ankle sprain. Perotti and Konko are out from knocks they picked up against Racing on Saturday and Squillacci is still out as well. We are looking pretty banged up at the moment.

Not having Jesus Navas is really huge. He gets better and better every season and if he could just get over his insane bouts of homesickness, he would even get a call up for La seleccion. Reports also say that Navarro will be back for the match, which is always a good sign.

BFB: Do you think Sevilla put in a shaky performance against Racing because they were looking ahead to Wednesday’s match? The team has been fairly inconsistent throughout the season, but with wins against Real Madrid in the league and Barça in the Copa del Rey, they’ve obviously proven their talent. Is the inconsistent starting eleven due to injury the biggest factor in these nonsequitor performances?

RK: Not playing the same starting 11 ever always has an impact on your performance, especially with the injuries we’ve suffered. Sevilla did not lost to Racing because of the tie with Barcelona. For us, finishing in the top 4 in a Champions League spot is much more important. However knocking the cules out of their first tournament of the season wouldn’t be a bad accomplishment.

We normally play a 4-4-2 but now because of injury we play some sort of bastardized 4-2-3-1 with Negredo up top saying please give me the damn ball. Now we are all over the place trying to figure out the best system for our new players, some of which have never seen the lights of a La Liga game in their life.

When we are healthy, we can play with the best of them, even when we are unhealthy and we play well we can still give everyone a run. Sevilla play to the level of their competition, and unfortunately, that means losing to teams who we should at least draw.

Injury plagues us every year, but this year it seems to be even worse than normal. We have an okay bench, but when you are reaching 5-6 players deep, the well runs dry.

BFB: SAT question: Sevilla FC::FC Barcelona as blank::blank?

RK: Wile E. Coyote::Road Runner. We always seem to get right behind you guys or in a trap in La Liga, but when it comes time to finish the job, we fall off that damn cliff every time.

BFB: Can you speak to what exactly del Nido is being charged with and how serious you believe the charges are? Beyond that, are his legal problems, regardless of whether he is ultimatley put in jail, causing any concerns within the organization as a whole and amongst Sevillistas in general? and with you in particular? What will happen to the club if he winds up in jail?

RK: To put it simply, [club president] Jose Maria del Nido is being charged with ‘forming a criminal organization’ with it’s goal of robbing the municipality of Marbella of money. That is what the charges say. Marbella is a very expensive city in Spain, but it is also a city that is filled with loads of dirty money (not just from hearsay, from personal experience with business partners).

The charges are serious, but who knows what will happen with regards to actual jail time. One minute he´s looking at 14 years the next he’ll just get probation. It’s anyone’s guess.

I cannot speak as to if his problems are causing a rift or problems in Sevilla FC as a whole. He still backs our club with a fanatical devotion and is completely outspoken about everyone else in La Liga. If he winds up in jail the club will shake off the dirt and move on, but not having del Nido in power would be a very strange feeling, that is for certain.

There have been allegations of this happening for quite some time, so I’m not surprised that it is finally coming to an end. But for me, there is loads of corruption in football to be honest, so am I surprised by it? Not really. Am I upset it’s come to my club?  Sure. But life goes on.

BFB: Slightly off topic, but very important to my readers: Would you be willing to work for Real Madrid and get paid very, very handsomely if it meant you had to spend every evening boosting Florentino Perez’s ego while he took a bath? (Optional: While Jorge Valdano croons in the background?) Would it change your answer if it were del Nido?

RK: Well, I’ve already done some work for Sevilla FC on their website as well as been in touch with a few of their front office staff, so I’ll do anything for my club.

Madridistas take a bath? That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that. (Note: MyMadrid may be the coolest iPhone app to hit the stores since ever. Just saying Barça, you might want to get on that.)

BFB: And finally, do you have any score predictions for the Copa and Liga matches?

RK: 1-1 in Nervión. Sevilla go through. League: 2-1 Barça win.

Again, thanks a ton to Ryan for doing this interview. Best of luck with the blog and best of luck in the matches ahead. They should be fun to watch, to say the very least.

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Written by:

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


  1. vicsoc8
    January 12, 2010

    Can’t say I disagree with him on the results. I think Sevilla will go through and then we’ll beat them in the league. To be honest, if that happened, I’d be happy

  2. jnelson
    January 12, 2010

    I really like the interviews. It is always nice to have a respectful discussion, of which this place has frequently excluding any post mentioning “Cesc”, “Fabregas”, or “buy” (in conjunction with the former two, Oh CRAP). Nice read.

    People, we CAN advance though. 2-1 can easily be overcome by executing opportunities and minimizing mistakes. If Getafe could whip us 4-0 in the second leg several years ago after Messi’s goal of the century, we can advance. If Mali, MALI, can come back from 0-4 down in the 74th min. to draw 4-4, we can advance. If we can come from behind in the 89th minute of the Fifa Club World Cup against a pesky Estudiantes and win in extra time, we CAN advance against Sevilla. One weighted lob pass to Ibra, volleyed home + one Xavi through ball netted home from Messi – NO GOALS ALLOWED!(Busi, LISTEN!) = hello next round. Think of it this way, Valencia faces the same task and there is no way Sevilla AND Depor will be left to run away with the trophy. Between Valencia and Barca, who do you have? No doubt…Sevilla OUT!!!

  3. Helge
    January 12, 2010

    That’s a great new feature. And a very funny next to last question 🙂

    So it looks like Perotti and Konko are definitely out of the match? And maybe even Jesus Navas, or did I misunderstand?
    If that’s both true and Pep doesn’t use a complete B line-up, I won’t accept anything else but a win that takes us to the next round (preferably against Depor^^).

  4. January 12, 2010

    Damn. I did NOT know about Perotti and Konko being out. That’s HUGE. In my opinion, they were Sevilla’s best two players in the first leg.

  5. barca96
    January 12, 2010

    if i were pep,
    i’d just play thiago, jds, gai..
    let all the fringe players play..

    if they can’t beat a badly weakened seville side, then it’s still ok.
    we need to rest our stars, xavi, messi, iniesta, puyol..for the liga and CL..
    we can do without CdR..

  6. January 12, 2010

    They’re dropping like flies around La Liga. Now Higuain is out for at least three weeks.

    • January 12, 2010

      I have my concerns about Keita. They are pushing him to the edge there.

    • vicsoc8
      January 12, 2010

      That’s not good for EE. He’s been their savior so far this season

  7. Xu
    January 12, 2010

    Caught by a ‘Eurosport’ news gathering crew during the current African Nations Cup, Yaya gave a quick interview along with his brother, Kolo.

    Asked if it was true that he would like to play together with his brother at the same club as they do in the national team – as he had once tried before when Kolo was still with the ‘Gunners’, Yaya said, “It is true that I was on the verge of signing for Arsenal. I spent two months for a trial there (before signing for Greek club Olympiacos in 2005). It was an incredible experience but in the end, I was disappointed that they did not sign me. But I am sure that someday I will return to play in England.”

    Kolo, who was next to him, interjected, “If you want, you already know where you are invited to come,” obviously referring to his current club, Manchester City, adding, “He is a brave player, and has a great pride in his abilities, as he had demonstrated in the semi-finals of Champions League defending against Chelsea’s Drogba.”

    Bearing in mind that Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola have had already instructed his players not to air any of their grievances publicly a few weeks back after a few of his players did so, including Yaya in his interview with France football, this may not go down well with him.

  8. Xu
    January 12, 2010


  9. Eduard
    January 12, 2010

    they’re all rumors, they’re even saying the Wayne Rooney is going to play in Spain next year

  10. Blow-Granite
    January 12, 2010

    Nice interview. My predicted lineup with substitutions in brackets:

    Alves—— Marquez(Pique)- ———–Milito———- Maxwell-
    ———————— Chiggy(Busi)——————————–
    ————– Xavi—————————- Iniesta—————-

  11. vicsoc8
    January 12, 2010

    Keirrison is now dismissing the possibility of any move to a different club, saying he wants to fight for his chance at Benfica.

    Personally I think this is a poor choice, as he needs playing time. Add the fact that Benfica just brought in a 20 year old striker from Brazil who they own, and it’s difficult to see how he is going to get any time this year or even next year.

    • Eduard
      January 12, 2010

      It seems like Benfica are really stacked this year.

      • Kxevin
        January 12, 2010

        That’s Keirrison’s ego talking. I’m sure that he’s also thinking that he doesn’t want to wallow in the shite of bottom-dwellers, who already have their bags packed for the segunda.

        Nice interview, Isaiah. Unfortunately, I think that Sevilla, particularly because they are depleted, will park the bus, shutter the doors and go through. We’ll probably win 1-0, which won’t be enough to progress, as I understand the away goals rule.

        But for this match, we will find out two things:

        How serious Guardiola is about the Copa: If he rolls out with the big boys, he wants this one. Bad.

        How serious Guardiola is about his committment to the kids: In his world, the kids play the Copa. And Pinto. To yank them at the first sign of trouble in Trebledise, would be kinda crappy.

        So I think that he will stick with the Copa Crew, which will mean not a lot of goals.

        But we’ll see. The cule in me says we win 2-0, and advance with guns blazing. Yay!

  12. January 12, 2010

    I don’t know, Kevin…

    Regarding Guardiola’s commitment to the “kids”. Exactly which “kids” did we play in the first leg other than Thiago? To me the “kids” are the guys who spend their time switching from Barca B to the First Team but are not full blown A Team members yet. In other words, guys like JDS, Thiago, Gai, Fontas, Romeu, and Muniesa. Bojan and Pedro are First Teamers and as such get all the responsibilities that come from the role. Chyg-not-so-nasty is a first teamer albeit a still adapting one as is, for different reasons, Milito. The fact that Guardiola played so many squad players even if some were out of form and being played out of position in the first leg says a lot. Remember all the news reports about Thiago, Gai, JDS, and Romeu practicing with the first team before the first leg? I still haven’t seen a similar report this week and the match is tomorrow. I expect a mix of big guns and squad players but would be surprised to see some of the kids starting.

    Pique, Abidal, and Ibra are well rested and ready to lock and load. I expect them to start. The big question for me will be Busi or no Busi. As our only remaining natural D-Mid with Keita and Yaya gone, he’s accumulating some mileage although that is something Pep has been scheming for since the summer. I am in favor of rotating Xavi and Iniesta with one another as they both have been accumulating the mileage. Messi’s energy conserving performance at Tenerife is also telling. Me thinks Ibra, Bojan (who is finally rounding into form on the left wing), and Pedro (who was rested) start up front with Henry and Messi on the bench in a glass “break in case of emergency” box.

    • Alexinho
      January 12, 2010

      For me, Bojan and Pedro still rank as kids, regardless of their A-team status. I expect to see both of them, and I hope Bojan gets up a head of steam with this one regardless of the result. A bit more confidence is just what he needs: who knows, I might begin to like him again.

      It would be crazy to not see Busi at DM. As you said, Hector, Guardiola seems to have been gearing up for this month all season so far, so to put in Txiggy now would be a very strange managerial decision, not just for this game, but for the majority of the season when Guardiola seems to have been giving Busi practice for a sustained run of games (as if he hasn’t been in for a sustained run of games already).

  13. January 12, 2010

    Jonathan and Thiago are traveling. Marquez is not even on the plane.

    Valdés, Pinto, Henry, Xavi, Piqué, Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Puyol, Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Bojan, Maxwell, Messi, Chygrinskiy, Alves, Abidal, Milito, Jonathan y Thiago.

    This is the squad.

    • Tyler
      January 12, 2010

      “Marquez is not even on the plane.”

      THANK GOD! I will be able to sleep a little easier tonight!!

    • BA
      January 12, 2010

      i wouldn’t put Rafa’s ass on the plane either.

  14. alexis
    January 12, 2010

    I would not like to ditch the Copa del Rey, to be honest. If we had to score a whole bunch of goals I might, but a 0-2 would see us through. A 1-2 would send us to extra time (something we do not want though).
    However, despite acknowledging that a treble is almost impossible to accomplish again, I believe we should aim at it.
    “No pressure guys, you did a great job last season. But don’t rest on your laurels. Try hard to do it again”…that is my thought towards them. I am sure they are capable of doing so.

  15. Kxevin
    January 12, 2010

    I think that Alexinho said, I still think of everyone not in my automatic starting XI as a “kid,” but “squad player” is a much better descriptive. I could see this starting XI:

    Alves Pique Puyol Abidal
    Txigrinski (yes, at DM …. Guardiola tried that for a reason)
    Busquets Xavi
    Pedro Ibra Krkic

    Iniesta and Messi are in the “in case of emergency” cabinet.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t mind dumping the Copa like day-old p’amb tomaquet. The demands are incessant, and would add to the workload that our already-short squad would have to face. If the match is there, fine. Take it, and hope that Depor can do what Sevilla couldn’t.

    • January 12, 2010

      Hey, without reading that, I went with the same lineup except with Busi at DM and Thiago where ou have Busi.

  16. vicsoc8
    January 12, 2010

    My preferred starting lineup:

    Alves Pique Milito Abidal
    Iniesta Chygrynskiy JDS
    Pedro Ibra Bojan

    Would love to see how Pique and Milito combine. Also interested in Dima at DM. Xavi needs a rest and I’d like to see Thiago or JDS play, I chose JDS because I think his style is more like Xavi’s. Like Kxevin said, Henry and Messi in the emergency cabinet

    • Cule
      January 12, 2010

      We will NOT overturn the first leg result with that lineup. I don’t know why you suggest Henry and Messi as subs, you are way too confident.

      • vicsoc8
        January 12, 2010

        Who says my goal was to overturn the first leg result?

        I care a lot more about giving confidence and game time to our squad players and maintaining our track record of integrating youngsters into the team.

  17. January 12, 2010

    Oh noes!!!

    Guess who the ref is tomorrow?

    Delgado Ferreira. Does this name ring a bell?

    Remember the Malaga game? You know, the game in which Weligton stomped on Messi’s ankle and punched Pique in the head without getting expelled? When we had two clear cut penalties denied? When the Ref’s report card for yellows confused Abidal with Yaya and Messi with CHYGNASTY? Yup. That guy. You also may remember him from last season’s second Espanyol La Liga game/Cage Fight.

    Oh boy, oh boy. I wish we had Yaya and Keita for this one because its gonna be physical. Ibra better bring the intimidation but also his composure.

    Grrrrrrhhhh…. :&

  18. Blaugrana561
    January 12, 2010

    just a little off topic but uhh on the cesc crap, does anyone think if we buy him, that guardiola might bring xavi back to the dm role?

    Alves pique puyol abidal
    cesc iniesta
    messi ibra henry

    i reckon it could work, as he has played there before. Xavi is getting older and his speed will be affected, something that isnt really needed at dm. any thoughts?

    • Blow-Granite
      January 12, 2010

      Cesc will play the role of DM if he comes to Barca. He is a little talller than Xavi Iniesta and it is important to win the areal battle in that position. There will be no place for Busi if Cesc comes to Barca. Yaya will be relegated to the bench because of the Cesc Xavi and Iniesta midfield combination. Unless, Pep decides to try Yaya as a Centre Back like he did against Chelsea there will be no role for Yaya in the team.

      • January 12, 2010

        Shhhhhh!!!! The gooners will hear you….

        BTW That’s sarcasm, right?

        • Blow-Granite
          January 12, 2010

          He he. I thought you were a serious guy Hector!!!! I guess you do have some funny bones in you!!!

          • Blaugrana561
            January 12, 2010

            Alves Pique Yaya Abidal ???
            Xavi Iniesta
            Messi Ibra RIBERY!!! HELL YEAH!

            id much rather see ribery at barca though, as i feel the youth will be affected if we buy back cesc (JDS, Thiago). And we need a true winger

  19. Tyler
    January 12, 2010

    somebody better hector me with a copa del rey preview stat!

    (i know I sound demanding, but my barca tank is running low, and yes I did just watch the game on Sunday, but it drains quick!)

  20. barca96
    January 13, 2010

    i would experiment this in midfield


    let both xavi and iniesta rest
    including messi.and let pedro and bojan play and gai as a sub

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