Liga Preview: Barça-Sevilla, Saturday 4pmEST ESPN Deportes
I’m not even sure what to write about at this point. I didn’t realize what a nice break the Tenerife match was. The tedium of discussing, for the third time in four matches, what Sevilla brings to the table is wearing on me. I have no idea what to write.
Okay, so yeah, that’s a lie. I always have something to say, even though sometimes it’s a bit repetitive and almost like I’m saying the same thing twice. It’s Sevilla, again, which means another serious test of our strength, though this time it’s in the Liga, where there is no possibility of a remontada, really. I imagine that the last match was a wake-up call for our boys, to remind them of their vulnerabilities. They, like the rest of us mortals, can be brought back down to earth by the hard work of little David and his slingshot over there, though the analogy breaks down when you consider that we are not the typical Philistine description, with the exception of our giant size.
So, then, to the match at hand. It’s Sevilla and it’s streaky streakness in La Liga, where they are a strange horse indeed. They are 5th in the standings, tied on points with 6th placed Mallorca. The thing is, they’re really good away from home (5W-0D-3L, 12GF 6GA) while they’re somewhat mediocre at home (4W-3D-2L, 16GF 11gA), which is something that is perhaps even more noteworthy now that we’ve played them in both locations, winning the one at their home and losing the one in ours.
I won’t bore you with more statistics, however, since we should all be keenly aware of how they’re going to approach this match, regardless of the numbers they’ve put up in the past. They will attack us with high pressure and keep doing it for as long as they can physically do so. That means we have to wrest control of the match early and keep them chasing the ball.
Their squad list: Palop, Javi Varas, Konko, Stankevicius, Escudé, Cala, Dragutinovic, Navarro, Adriano, Lolo, Marc Valiente, Duscher, Renato, Romaric, Jesús Navas, José Carlos, Koné, Negredo, Diego Capel.
I’m not sure about Jimenez’s style, in terms of fielding the same starting eleven twice in a row if he can (I’m not sure injuries have afforded him that luxury so far this season), so I won’t speculate as who they will put on the field, just how they will be arranged. I think we’ll see another 4-5-1 from them, with Renato anchoring the midfield and Negredo as the point. That means another dogfight, no matter who we put on the field to face them and I think that both Jimenez and Guardiola are keenly aware of the fatigue that’s possible.
Interestingly enough, for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, we’re without a midweek match while our rivals have one. Crazy, right? So this could work to our advantage or, it could work to Depor’s advantage, who get them next, when they’re plum tuckered out from playing more 90-minutes-of-pain against us. That’s Dani Alves’ favorite game, by the way, but he calls it “morning jog” while everyone else clutches blades of grass and tries to draw in breath. I don’t know who is more conditioned, us or them, but I would put my money on us, so I expect a pretty full-bore lineup out there ready to deal Sevilla a pretty serious slap upside the head. Knock us out of a tournament when you have to play us next in the league, will you? Smart move, mullethead. You know you’ve got to host us when we have The Yaya back in May, right?
Who we will put on the field is, to me, a much more interesting conversation, but I’m biased to some degree. Or so they tell me. All 18 of our available first-teamers (so everyone except Keita and The Yaya) plus Gai, Victor Vazquez, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Thiago from the cantera. The big news, reported by every media outlet I read today, was that Alves was back in training after being given the day off yesterday. Following my earlier statement about his Energizer Bunny-esque lifestyle, that’s a tad odd, but apparently there was an Iron Man that needed run somewhere in Catalunya and the only man that could do it on such short notice was obviously Alves. I’m sure he did it in record time and while carrying on a decent conversation with someone on the phone. Four of the 22 players will have be dropped for the squad list for La Liga, so I’m just going to put all of the canteranos in that bucket. So it goes.
Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro!, Ibra, Messi.
The only change from Wednesday is Henry, who I’m excluding only for fatigue reasons rather than anything tactical. He’s older now and just played two matches in a row. Wild!
Official score prediction: 3-0. Goals by Messi (2) and Pedro!. You can’t keep a good squad down for that long and we’re going to go to plaid on their asses in a wonderful nightcap. Pep claims “we’re not going out for revenge”–and he’s right, we’re not, it’s strictly business.
Time: 10pm local/Barcelona, 4pm EST/New York. Check your local time here. [Updated time!]
TV: ESPN Deportes here in the US. At least you know the feed won’t randomly cut out like it does on GolTV.
Weather: ~50F (10C), 10% chance of rain. The pitch should be perfect.
Ref: Delgado Ferreira. Hector has already voice his opinion on the matter, but I don’t expect another serious stompfest because this isn’t Malaga, this is Sevilla. Despite their hard-nosed tactics, Sevilla never fell into the dirty category, which is obviously the opposite of Weligton. If you ever wonder what I do when I’m not writing about Barça, just imagine a bespectacled man on Brooklyn’s promenade howling “Weliiiiigggggtooooooooooooon” at the moon. And sometimes the sun. Still, Delgado Ferreira sucks.
Non sports-related things: In case you’re wondering, I’ve been following a lot of the Haiti earthquake news, as I’m sure many of you have been. My father recently returned from a trip to Port-au-Prince where he was doing AIDS awareness work and while it appears that many of the people he worked with are okay, their hospital and lab are more than likely heavily damaged, if not rendered inoperable. It is not just that disasters kill and maim people, but they also destroy their healthcare infrastructure, which goes a long ways towards making an already grim situation into an unimaginable hell-on-earth scenario. It is hard to fathom the depths of misery which are currently being plumbed in a country with minimal access to fresh water and healthcare services before the earthquake devastated what little they had.
I’d like to go ahead and put out a few organizations, if a bit late, that you may wish to contribute to. EDSBS, a favorite site of mine, has an excellent write up about the places you can contribute (and how to be sure your money is being spent wisely while you do so) and it is well worth your time. Here are just three of the possible places to donate:
- Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is an excellent organization that was running a small clinic as soon as they could after the earthquake struck that has treated at least 2,000 people so far and is rapidly expanding its surgical capacity. You can donate to them here.
- Partners in Health is an organization that has deep roots in Haiti and has been on the forefront of the recovery process. Donate to PiH here.
- The Red Cross is a well-established organization doing some seriously wonderful work around the world. Their donation page is here and you can also get information here.
That is just three of the many, many organizations making a difference on the ground. Anything you can give is welcomed and appreciated more than it is possible to understand. We are, above all else, a global community and I feel a responsibility not just to those in my own country, but to those around the world who are less fortunate. Thank you for taking the time to read these few words.