A Por La Remontada: Sevilla-Barça

Copa Preview: Sevilla – Barça, Wednesday 4pm ,GolTV

Obviously the first thing you should do when preparing for the return leg of the Copa del Rey is read my interview with Ryan Knapp. That will give you a head-start as well as, perhaps, introduce you to a very talented and informed writer dedicated to La Liga. Not to mention brilliant, brilliant questions from a genius interviewer, of course.

Let’s jump right into the preview, shall we? It’s going to be a tough match not only because we’ve got a remontada (comeback) to do, but because we’re playing Sevilla. They proved in the first leg that they’re no joke, regardless of who they’re playing and even though they lost to Racing this past weekend at the Sanchez Pizjuan, they’re still dangerous. In fact, they might be more dangerous now than they otherwise would be because absolutely nothing can be taken for granted. The loss put them 13 points behind us in the league, meaning they have virtually no chance to catch up, meaning the Copa is their only legitimate shot at a domestic trophy.

Sevilla hasn’t released their official squad list, but Jimenez has said that he’s hoping to get at least one of Konko, Perotti, Jesus Navas, and Fernando Navarro. Luis Fabiano is definitely out for the match, which is good for us, but not good for the beauty of the match. Freddie Kanoute is also out due to being a part of Mali’s international team participating in the ACN. Still, with Jimenez and Renato both claiming that they’re going to go for the win and not just qualification through attrition. They seem to recognize what most of the people on this blog think, which I have to admit I agree with: if you park the bus, you lose to us at least 2-0. That, coupled with the home crowd’s love of attacking flair, would be a disastrous night for both the club and its manager.

A primer, then, on what various scores mean:

  • Any loss, by any score, means Barça are out.
  • Any draw, by any score, means Barça are out.
  • A 1-0 victory means we are out.
  • A 2-1 victory and we go to extra time.
  • Any win by two goals are more and Barça are through.
  • Any win by one goal in which we score more than 2 goals, and Barça are through.

This match is certainly there for the taking, but it will not come easy, even if all of the above-mentioned stars are out. Sevilla has a good manager and a good squad, with distinctly gifted players all over the pitch capable of wreaking havoc on our back line. If we play like we did against Tenerife, we will not get out with a manita to our name, but rather one pinned ingloriously to our noses.

One interesting thing I noted during the match was Sevilla’s change at halftime that, I think, influenced the match tremendously: Renato on for the injured Jesus Navas. While Navas is obviously the more talented on the ball, Renato is far more capable of controlling a match from the midfield, where Navas had been playing. Because of this forced change, Sevilla had more impact on proceedings and was able to eventually grab to well-deserved goals. Obviously our engine room didn’t take well to the change and you can blame it on whatever you’d like (Marquez’s deficiencies as a DM, a lack of support from the back line, solar flares, my preview), but the fact remains that we were clearly the better squad in the first half, but we unable to make the transition to a different style of possession and attack once they had limited our primary tactical option. I assume, then, that Renato will start tomorrow even if Jesus Navas is available to play and that they’ll pressure our midfield like mad in order to get some breakaways like Tenerife had before we settled down and wrested control (which I think was partly due to Tenerife’s conditioning, or lack thereof).

Our squad, then, must be able to handle large amounts of pressure in the middle 3 while our back 4 does something it hasn’t done for a while now: cover well. Our own high pressure, when broken against, yields vast acreage behind the back line which speedy players such as Diego Capel can take advantage of. If you can hit us when we’re least capable of defending in droves–when we’re only just out of our own box–you’re capable of getting fairly comfortable chances against us, which means a premium must be placed on the concept of not doing stupid crap near our box.

Given that thought, who should we start at DM? There’s the more experienced Busi–more experienced at DM, anyway, not overall–who tends to make overly-complicated moves in dangerous positions and has a tendency this year to give the ball away cheaply. He’s immensely talented and has passing range and vision beyond his years, but he quite often fails to keep it simple, preferring a pirouette to a pass, as if he is trying to make his opponents look foolish as well as garner olés from the crowd. Since I scream olé whenever Xavi does his little hold-the-defender-off-while-doing-the-simplest-move-and-breaking-free routine, I’d prefer it if Busi watched more video of our little film noir star and let himself do fancy moves only in their half of the field, when we have time to recover.

Then there’s Marquez, who has clearly lost a step in terms of pace, but has the tactical knowledge and positional sense to do some serious defensive work. Couple that with his long-range passing and you’d think he was a shoo-in, but he’s been somewhat off this year (garnering a 1 from Kevin along with a 2 and a 3 and only once getting better than a 5–vs Cultural in the Copa) and occasionally shows flashes of over-the-hill status. Guardiola has helped us out in this regard by leaving Marquez out of squad list for this match, but in general the question must be asked throughout January and into early February while we await The Yaya’s return.

We have an untested Dmytro Chygrynskiy we can call on as well, but his recent, um, exploits against Sevilla were not exactly confidence-inspiring. He did well enough in his moments as a DM against Tenerife on Sunday, but he was put on against a deflated side already down by five goals with five minutes left. Rightly, I think, he was rated incomplete because he didn’t have any thing to do with the match other than seeing it to its grave for a few seconds. I can easily see the Chygarrific One starting here tomorrow. He is also, I think, Guardiola’s project, meaning whether he succeeds or fails in the team is massively important to Pep, who probably sees him (and perhaps rightly) as validation of his own genius. Chygrynskiy did cost quite a bit, after all.

Last we have Pique as an option. He’s obviously knowledgeable about “the blaugrana way” and has proven himself a reliable backline member. But his lack of pace has been exposed this year and that might not be the greatest thing for a DM, though, like with Marquez and Chygrynskiy, positioning goes a long ways towards alleviating that problem. I consider him a better alternative to both Marquez and Chygrynskiy, but prefer him in the back line as well, creating a priority problem. Do you play Pique in his natural position or do you take a chance on him at DM? My assumption is that Busi will get the nod, simply based on experience and potential for a blinder.

Our full squad list, before we go any farther: Valdés, Pinto, Piqué, Chygrinskiy, Milito, Maxwell, Abidal, Puyol, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro!, Ibrahimovic, Bojan, Messi, Alves, Dos Santos, Thiago, Henry

So where do we go from here? Pinto will start in goal, obviously, but beyond that, Guardiola’s plans are obscured in the mists of his crazysmartsuperbrain. And yes, that’s a real word. Trust me, I graduated summa cum laude from MIT, I know these things. Given those two facts, obviously I will get the lineup right for the 84th straight time.* Rijkaard just never gave me a run for my mental money, is all.

Predicted lineup: Pinto, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, Busi, Xavi, JDS, Bojan, Ibra, Pedro!.

I think Guardiola puts out a serious lineup, but with some young’uns too because it’s a Copa match and getting them out there is important not just now, but in the future. Bojan deserves another start after his play on Sunday at Tenerife and while Sevilla is far better than Tenerife, I think Bojan should be on the field and hopefully for 90 minutes. As for keeping Messi on the bench, he’s been playing regularly and could use a few minutes off. Iniesta too, so I’ve put them on the bench as super subs. And we all know how subbing Messi on is useless.

We will attack, they will attack, and it will be awesome. I really am looking forward to a good match, but will we get through? We obviously can get through (see above bullet points for how), but Sevilla isn’t going to let this one go easily. We’ll have to impose ourselves on the match early and never let it go. If we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile and in metric that translates to the quarterfinals.

Official prediction: 1-1. Goal by Ibra. Unfortunately they will have the last laugh in this comedy festival. But, remember what happened last time I predicted 1-1? I do!

TV: In the US, this match will be on GolTV
Time: 10pm Sevilla/local time, 4pm NYC/EST time. Check your local time here.
Weather: Weather Underground reports tomorrow should be ~64F aka ~17.5C with a 40% chance of rain. Not too shabby. I guess AS and Marca can get back to their theories that Barça gets to play in nice weather while Real Madrid get to play…XBox at home, while crying.
Ref: Clos Gómez. In the league he gives out almost 5 yellows per match, which is fairly high, but in the Copa del Rey he gives out only 2.7 cards per match. Otherwise, I don’t have any particular opinion or insight on him. Hopefully he gives out cards for people chopping down Messi, but not for Busi diving like he’s Greg Louganis).

*It’s my blog, I can make shit up if I want to. Or cry!

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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. January 12, 2010

    And if you’re wondering what goes on in Sergio Ramos’ head, wonder no longer as Crackovia brings you the goods: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv9Lor-1zvM&NR=1

    What’s happening is that Sergio Ramos is trying to figure out why Barcelona has an extra game before they head to the CWC. He thinks that Barcelona will have more matches by the end and thus a better shot at winning the title.

  2. olumide kehinde
    January 12, 2010

    my prediction is
    Alves Pique Millto Maxwell
    Xavi Busi JDS
    Messi Ibra Pedro

  3. olumide kehinde
    January 12, 2010

    oh yeah and why isn’t barca usin gai he is a good young talent

    • January 13, 2010

      yeah he sure is.. but he’s one of those gems that will take may not be an early blossomer even though he’s only 17.

      • poipoi
        January 13, 2010

        gai looks still a little green to me, but I’ve seen really little of him. I love dribbling but to me gai is too robinhish 😉 “mucho ruido y pocas nueces” I think … “much ado about nothing”

  4. jordi
    January 12, 2010

    Arent we through if we win 3-2. on away goals ?

    • January 12, 2010

      Yes, we are through with that score. That’s the final bullet point.

  5. Jose67
    January 12, 2010

    Is it wrong of me to not care THAT much if we get booted out of the Copa del Rey? I feel like losing those 5 possible games would help us out on other fronts…

  6. January 12, 2010

    I think you mean any side that DOESN’T park the bus loses at least 2-0. I thought the consensus was,broadly,that if you come out to play, you die (and recent games such as Villareal and Sevilla were noteworthy because they actually beat us at our own game,which few teams manage to do). Hasn’t parking the bus yielded better results?

    Whoa,I see the seeds of a possible Isaianalysis there! 😉

  7. Cesc Blanc
    January 12, 2010

    “Trust me, I graduated summa cum laude from MIT, I know these things.”

    I thought that you graduated from Oberlin???!!?!?

    Keep it up with the 1-1 predictions…hope the streak continues.

  8. messi108
    January 12, 2010

    Awesome read !!
    Thanks Isaiah 🙂

  9. January 12, 2010

    BTW On my post of Doom in the other topic regarding ref Delgado Ferreira. That’s apparently for our Liga game against Sevilla. Not the Copa. Ol’ Clos is the one listed for this one.

  10. Jnice
    January 12, 2010


    EXACTLY what I was talking about in previous posts. Henry gesticulates too much whenever he doesn’t get the ball, even when it isn’t feasible to give him the ball in certain situations and it’s annoying. Henry did it to Messi, and Messi, who usually doesn’t react, decided to put Henry in his place. I SAW that incident and it looked like Messi shouted to Henry something like, “yo, what is your fucking deal?” I’ve noticed this with Henry every single game and now players are starting to get annoyed. He has to realize that just because he makes a run, it doesn’t mean he should get the ball.

    Anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about should go re-watch the Tenerife game or any other game Henry has featured in and just watch his reactions when he doesn’t get a ball. Can’t stand that part of his game.

  11. stephen
    January 13, 2010

    I think we CAN do this, do we WANT to? I think not.
    Im sure a lot of people agree we can drop this and be better at the other cups, little teams are after wins with Barca and big teams EVEN more, esp. our nemesis (Madrid) kicking our heels, and seem (keyword SEEM) to be getting better.

    I predict a 2-1, and 1-0 in extra time. We win, BUT we should let this one go.

  12. Blow-Granite
    January 13, 2010

    I think Guardiola is purposefully planning to let this one go.

    Predicted lineup:
    Alves Pique Millto Abidal
    Xavi Busi Iniesta
    Messi Ibra Bojan

    Final Score: 4 – 1

  13. January 13, 2010

    I think we may see some Milito tonight. Busquets may be benched the other starters so Chegrnskiy get the node there. Unless if Pep want more secured defense from the start with him in any of the two midfield positions (B2B Mainly) beside Xavi(or)Iniesta.

    The roadmap is clear: Defend well, Contain the midfield, and goals will eventually come. Concede early and you are in troubles (Especially if all the key players started).

    So it’s not offense that will decide the game, but more the way we contain Sevilla offense and midfield.

  14. January 13, 2010

    Isaiah, JDS isn’t in the squad i think! Pep will probably go in with a full strength team and beat Seville to the ground!

    • jnelson
      January 13, 2010

      YEA! I’m all for that! If the roster and cantera isn’t capable of playing every game then we should buy more players. Simple. And if that is a no because we are giving our youngsters confidence by keeping the squad small then I say to you: play them. THAT will give them more confidence. If I was a player, I would rather win 10 trophies in a 5 year career than win 10 in a 10 year career. Anybody heard of Jim Brown? But, I guess now days it is all about the money.

  15. Kxevin
    January 13, 2010

    According to EMD, Guardiola took Pique to dinner, to have a “Yo, wtf” confab with thr suddenly slumping defender. The last time he did this, it was Henry before last season’s home Valencia match. And we all know how that turned out.

    Jnice gets props for having the good eye. I think that like every attacker, Henry has to think that he can score every time he gets the ball. But there is a way to do it in a way that doesn’t call out your hard-working teammates.

    It should also be noted that perhaps Henry has never felt fully integrated into the side’s offense, and maybe more overt displays would get the “Hey, I’m over here” message across.

    Huge props to Messi, who with that action did exactly what the best player in the world, who is also a leader on the pitch, is suppoaed to do. I would hope that a subsequent chat was had about the roots of the persistence of the gesture, however. Wr’ve noted in the past that our offenae has something of a right-sided bias. Things are most effective when we have width, and an active, aggressive attack from both sides.

  16. Eklavya
    January 13, 2010

    A back line of Pique-Milito looks good. They were solid back at Zaragoza long time ago.

  17. yogi
    January 13, 2010

    For me, i am hoping for: pinto; puyol, pique, milito, abidal; busi, xavi, iniesta; pedro, messi and bojan. i think this line up is defensively solid and more mobile. ibra makes us play slightly more static game and against seville, i wish for more dynamic game. also pique can have license to roam forward which will negate sevilla tactic of putting reins on xavi.

  18. January 13, 2010

    Their squad list has been announced: Palop, Javi Varas, Konko, Stankevicius, Escudé, Dragutinovic, Fernando Navarro, Duscher, Lolo, Renato, Romaric, Diego Capel, Adriano, Navas, Koné, Negredo, José Carlos, Cala, Marc Valiente.

    The last 3 are canteranos. Note that Perotti is not in, but that Jesus Navas, Konko, and Fernando Navarro are. I kind of expect to see Negredo starting, but that might actually be to their detriment as I don’t really rate him as a pressure-creating striker.

    This is shaping up to be a doozy.

  19. Andrew
    January 13, 2010

    Greetings from Costa Rica! Isiah, do you know any way to find out what channel it will be on this country? Goltv doesn’t exist.

    • January 13, 2010

      I’m searching, but I don’t know where to search…

      If you get Canal+ it should be on there, but I don’t remember what the channels available in Costa Rica are. I just remember that there were like 4 of them when I was and one of them was MTV. Though I was seemingly in the middle of nowhere in a city (Liberia).

  20. January 13, 2010

    And for all of you bitching and moaning about the cold. It’s currently at a weekly high of 30F (-1C) and my heat broke last night. So yeah. Shuts ups.

    • vicsoc8
      January 13, 2010

      Time to get that wood burning stove running and move your mattress right down next to it for the night. I had to do something similar in the Rochester ice storm of ’91.

      • January 13, 2010

        We did that when I was a kid and our furnace went out early in the evening one night and the repairman couldn’t make it until the morning. Fire in the fireplace, 2 space heaters, and electric blankets, the whole family sleeping in the living room around the sofa bed.

        No fireplace this time, but fortunately the repair guy got here and fixed things up and we’re baking again.

        • Kxevin
          January 13, 2010

          Whatever, Girlzilla. Talk to me when you get into the single digits. 😀

          We’re presently basking in the relative warmth of a whole 30 degrees. I’m going outside naked.

          • eklavya
            January 13, 2010

            The snow here is 30cm deep! My god! 😯

          • Carles P
            January 13, 2010

            Hate to rub it in… but here in Northern Cali, we are basking in 50-60 degree weather… although it has been rather wet and foggy, but after listening to weather in the rest of the US, we should be grateful!

        • January 13, 2010

          I’m not even gonna say anything 😀 (although give me some credit for spending four years in Michigan)

          • andrew M
            January 13, 2010

            hottest day of the year here in south africa, 41 degrees centigrade spent at the beach. thats roughly 110 fahrenheit i think!!

  21. poipoi
    January 13, 2010

    Sevilla in pizjuan down by 1-2 … it is such a perfect day for some xaviniesta. We have to enjoy ourselves today! even if we end up out of la copa, I don’t really care about the trophy but I do about the team image, their confidence and that old filthy madrid press. We have win and Ibra has to run.

    I’d love to see:

    messi—-ibra——bojan (they can swith positions for the 90 mins)

    my doubts are specially in the attacking line, maybe it is messi/ibra/titi —– pedro!/ibra/titi —- pedro!/bojan/titi —- pedro!/ibra/bojan —– messi/bojan/titi …. soo many posible combinations!!! I’m feeling as if I was in math class! Damn!!! So: pep>manolo jimenez 😉 silly and relaxing mathematic expression for cules to repeat as a mantra in the pre-match. I’ve been working 9 hours and I have 9 more to work, so I all I can come up with is stupid stuff.

    My prediction: 1-3 all goals by his majesty lord andres iniesta, even one in his own goal xD

    I don’t think pep will make JDS or Thiago start but let’s see what happens.

    • vicsoc8
      January 13, 2010

      So lets see, if we have 5 players vying for 3 spots there are 5!/(5-3)! permutations, or 60 possibilities (damn, is that right?).

      However if order doesn’t matter there are 5!/(3!*(5-3)!) combinations, or 10 possibilities.

      It would be interesting to find how many possible lineups Pep could put on the field. You’d have to use constraints such as where certain players could play (couldn’t have Valdes at forward), but the nerd inside me is getting excited.

  22. Kxevin
    January 13, 2010

    Been doing some thinking, and I’m ready to get crazy with shit.

    Alves Puyol Milito Abidal
    Pique Xavi Iniesta
    Pedro! Henry Krkic

    Yes, that’s Piquenbauer in at DM, rocking that shit with the trueness. I think that after having his fireside chat with Guardiola, he’s going to be ready to rip it up. And he might as well not have to run as far to make his firestarting passes, and charge the opposing box.

    This means that Krkic can play with Henry, with whom he seems to do very well, and Pedro can just be Pedro.

    Messi, Ibrahimovic and/or Busquets can sit, in case they’re needed, ready to come on when the Sevilla defenders are getting a little tired from chasing around those damn young’uns.

    • Tyler
      January 13, 2010

      hmmmmm this is so crazy it just might work! I like it a lot actually. Pique did well in the DM role in the Argentina/Catalunya friendly, albeit it was a friendly. But with Milito being solid and Pique being able to advance without worrying about being caught with his pants down, I think this could definitely work!

      • Kxevin
        January 13, 2010

        Recall my advocacy of the 4-2-4, which was another of those “so crazy it might just work” things. People laughed then, and …. well …. they’re still laughing. 😀

        • Tyler
          January 13, 2010

          haha, well we obviously need to start trying new things with the DM, because the feeling I get from The Yaya is as soon as this season is done, he is booking a one way ticket to Manchester as fast as possible. I think trying Pique or Dima should work, but I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the Pique/Puyol combo that serves us so well.

    • vicsoc8
      January 13, 2010

      I think we definitely need to experiment with someone other the Busquets at DM. The fact of the matter is that we have no one to fill in for him in a pinch right now. The Marquez experiment failed, horribly. Pep should use this game to experiment with someone else in the position – either Pique of Dima*.

      Personally I prefer Dima because I want to see how a Pique Milito CB pairing would work in case the energizer bunny explodes due to the second law of thermodynamics and Puyol has to deputize for him.

      *I’m going to refer to Chygwanthimtobenasty as Dima from now on because I read somewhere it was his nickname, and I’m lazy.

    • cliveee
      January 13, 2010

      Alves Puyol Chgrynskiy Abidal
      Pique Xavi JDS
      Messi Henry Bojan

      I am ready for craziness and to see Chgrynskiy starting as well. The Man of Principle is going to lift the dude from where he fell.

  23. JMo
    January 13, 2010

    Sevilla’s La Liga form is completely and totally irrelevant to our match today.

    This year, every team plays their best match against us. Hands down. Atlante, Estudiantes, RUBIN KAZAN. We can’t give up sloppy chances outside the box, because teams eat em up like the blue guy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhUFxaauNTE

    We need to lock it up on D, and keep them off the ball. We beat sevilla last year when Yaya fed Henry a lobbed ball and Henry pounced on it putting us up early.

    Just as it is against most teams in this situation, we MUST come out and score in the first half. The more we press, the more vulnerable we become, especially without Yaya.

    Come on boys, score early, and let the sangria flowww.

  24. mike in africa
    January 13, 2010

    cum laude from MIT… nice!!

  25. DontPanic
    January 13, 2010

    Not to forget we also play Sevila on the weekend in La Liga. With that in mind, losing tonight might cause a lot of damage to the team spirit (both Barca an Sevila). So a win tonight mihgt be very positive for the weekend game as well.

  26. Helge
    January 13, 2010

    I thought this is the same stupid referee as the one against Malaga? You know, where Messi has almost been kicked to death by Weligton, some penalties haven’t been awarded to us and stuff like that…

  27. majatt (Maximus)
    January 13, 2010

    I know the comments section is typically one of great consideration, thoughtful analysis and sensible arguments.

    I, however, would like to take brief break from sanity and say the following in a violently excited manner:


    VISCA CATALUNYA!!!! (as long as we still get to play in la liga :P)

    we now return you to our regularly scheduled commenting.

    • vicsoc8
      January 13, 2010

      I’m right there with you. I can barely sit still at work right now waiting for this game.

    • eklavya
      January 13, 2010

      You forgot the ‘El’. Its ok I’ll say it for you:

  28. Vj
    January 13, 2010

    I’m gonna pass on today’s game (have an employment opportunity).. Hopefully the guys will play to their best..

    To echo majatt’s sentiment, Visca Barca i Visca Catalunya!

    • eklavya
      January 13, 2010

      “I’d go for b*tch slapped”
      LOL 😀

      No need of a explanation…it is SPORT after all…the ever reliable SPORT!

  29. Tutomate
    January 13, 2010

    Should it not be, “A Per La Remuntada”.

    Great preview.
    1-3 Barça win. Hopefully. Goals by Ibra, Messi and JDS. One by Pinto own goal. 

    • eklavya
      January 13, 2010

      Have we scored a own goal yet this season?

    • vicsoc8
      January 13, 2010

      Pique’s own goal against Osasuna where we ended up tied. 10/31 I think?

      Incidentally, his patch of “poor” form followed soon after that.

  30. Tutomate
    January 13, 2010

    And Im sorry for what I’m about to do but,

    Wenger, Arsenal Cesc Fabregas, 30 mill

    haha suckas

  31. Nas1r
    January 13, 2010

    Surely it is Bojans time to score 🙂 , come on blaugranas

  32. vicsoc8
    January 13, 2010

    This just in: it is being reported that last week prior to Bojan’s resurgence of form Pep took him out to Chuck-E-Cheese’s for dinner. While the dinner went well enough, it is said that the true breakthrough came when Pep jumped in the pit of balls with Bojan, proving once again that Pep is excellent at connecting with his players.

  33. Nas1r
    January 13, 2010

    hahahaha , more of those Chuck-E-Cheese trips for Bojan then 🙂 , nice one visco8

  34. majatt (Maximus)
    January 13, 2010

    was looking but didn’t see the line ups in the comments:

    From sport.es

    So, Barca will play: Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Ibrahimovic and Henry.

    Sevilla will play with: Palop; Konko, Dragutinovic, Escude, Fernando Navarro, Romaric, Renato, Duscher, Navas, Adriano and Negredo

  35. I’m sure that the Global Warming Scientists can fabricate enough facts to attribute the more frequent & much larger solar flares to Global Warming.

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