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Didn’t We Just Do This? Barça-Sevilla

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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.

-Isaiah.

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24 Responses to “Didn’t We Just Do This? Barça-Sevilla”

  1. Keano says:

    Im an ibra fan but the tactics which made us great last term dont seem to be there, ie suffocating pressure to the other team. Eto acted a mascherano with goals in the other half relentlessly harassing defenders. We bought ibra to break buses, how in the name of all that is holy, does he do this from xavi’s position?. We signed the plan b that everyone said we lacked but failed to think about plan a, this is what made this team champions a fast aggressive running machine. We clearly need someone with etos attributes AS WELL.(easier said than done I know)

  2. Keano says:

    Hmmm Brooklyn nice…..

  3. BL says:

    dammit. ivory coast won today 3-1 over ghana, yaya perhaps not coming back early *sadface*.

  4. Blow-Granite says:

    Good to see the piece on Haiti. My condolences.

  5. Hector says:

    Great preview, Isaiah. Yeah, I mixed up the date of my buddy Ferreira’s appearance. I am usually among the last guys to propose conspiracy theories. To me there are good refs and bad refs, period. However, when a guy confuses Abidal for Yaya and Messi for CHYGNASTY in his bookings book, I am not exactly comforted by his level of competence. Hopefully his optometrist has refreshed his lens prescription since then. I mean, how the HELL do you confuse Messi for Chygnasty?!?! The hair, the beard, the over half a foot in height? Really?

    Word up on Haiti. I’ve only been there once in my life and it was one of the most gut wrenching experiences I’ve ever had. I was 14 years old and I felt horrible and guilty even at that age because of the poverty and suffering just around my corner. Naked little kids running after me screaming “dollar, dollar!” while European and American tourists took photos is the one memory most seared into my mind. I just wanted to puke and cried afterward. It puts your daily life problems in perspective. I can’t even imagine what it must look like now :( .

  6. jnelson says:

    WEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIIGGGGGTTTTTOOOOONNNN! I despise that embarrassment of an athlete more than anyone else, save Delgado Ferreira and RFEF. I will remember the atrocities of that match forever.

  7. Kxevin says:

    1. We have to start knocking the shit out of people. I’m fine with pretty football, but we need some fear going our way.

    2. Ibrahimovic is immensely talented, but starting to piss me off. Can we get him one of those dog collars, that would give him a shock every time he got outside of a 10m range of the box? :D

    3. Messi is going to get elbow-deep in some ass. He could have had a hat trick on Tuesday. And an angry Messi is an immense Messi. Now, I would have said to him, “Where was that fire in the first half, dude?”

    4. That Copa loss will either turn out to be something brilliant, or the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t think this club lacks for confidence, but sometimes a side can start feeling like luck isn’t on its side. It could kick start us into an ass-whipping machine, or a pity party.

    Isaiah and/or Hector, it got lost in the chatter of the post-match analysis, but I still want to hear from you all on why keepers have the matches of their lives against us, on a repeated basis. Love to hear some thoughts on that one. And anybody else, for that matter. That Racing kid schooled Palop over the weekend, then suddenly he’s a god against us.

    • Hector says:

      RE: opposing goalkeepers obtaining super powers when they face us.

      I am honestly at a loss. A chance at a goal is a chance at a goal. La Liga has some excellent keepers. Probably the best collection of them in the world relative to other leagues. Palop has always been an excellent keeper. Between him, Casillas, Valdes, Asenjo, Villareal’s Diego Lopez, Espanyol’s Kameni, and Asenjo, there is some world class talent (England would take any of those in a heart beat to start for their NT for instance). So keep that in mind.

      You have to finish chances. We had those but maybe could have had some slightly better ones. However, also credit Sevilla’s defense which also played with tremendous intensity. Konko was co-MVP of the tie along with Palop IMO and Dragunitovich put in the best performance I’ve seen out of him. Our chances were not easy. Except for Ibra’s open header (his reaction to the miss was correct), we really did not have any one on ones or missed tap ins. Canales had two world class finishes in one on one situations which any keeper would have a hard time resolving. Our chances were not one on ones and that’s a credit to their defense as much as it is to Palop.

      We have not put together a full 90 minutes of greatness just yet and we have acquired a bad habit of starting slow. It would be extremely interesting to get some stats as to when did we score first last season in comparison to this one. We put in a great half, two mediocre ones, and a horrible one against Sevilla. As good as that second half was, we did not deserve the tie as a whole. We could have had more chances if we had not procrastinated until the end to turn up the heat.

      We have simply not played well. I’ll have something more concrete in my next article but the passing has been too slow and inaccurate, the pressure has been lazy, the runs aren’t being made, and the turnover rate has been staggering. Except for the last 20 minutes or so when Guardiola went all Hernan Cortes “Burn the ships!” style with adjustments, the difference in halfs was simply playing better. I re-watched the Tenerife game while researching my next article and was disgusted by the overall work rate. I’ve never been so pissed off at Messi despite his hat trick. He was shit…but he’s so good that he still got three goals! It took me a re-run to appreciate how shitty we were. Even Xavi was guilty of lackadaisical play. Sometimes its not about fancy adjustments but about going back to the fundamentals and adhering to the principles.

      Henry and Ibra have to understand each other much better. Alves has to get his crossing sight re-calibrated. Iniesta and/or Abidal have to provide a little width to let Henry get into the box. Xavi and Iniesta have to shoot more often. Yeah. All that is well and good. It does us no good if ALL our midfielders aren’t pressing and running to get open, if our fullbacks are too afraid to press, if our forwards get lazy with the pressure, if the passing is too slow, etc. Fundamentals come first and that IMO was the biggest difference between halfs.

      • Sid says:

        Maybe B’coz

        1) Our Current Status – We are the team to beat and given our attack, goalkeepers have a thing to proove. So they are extra sharp

        2) Our passing game – We dont shoot from distance and prefer to almost pass the ball into the net. We used to have a much more direct (maybe less talented) front three under Rijkaard with R10-Eto’o-Giuly

        3) Defence of the opposition – Most of our chances are in closed quarters (near claustrophobic) and stationary as opposed to other teams, who get a chance to charge down th epitch and shoot one with the momentum

    • Flippy says:

      GKs have incredible reflexes. However, the attention span is very important in their games. If they play a game in which there are about 5 really dangerous shots in 90 minutes (read: average game), they are not as focused as having 20 dangerous shots in 90 minutes. In a game where there are less goalscoring opportunities, yet the players are just as clinical as when we play, the goalkeeper is more prone to conceding due to being less focused, unprepared, and untested often. The last one may be a bit confusing. If you make some really good saves in the opening minutes, you become on fire. However if you are just moving around the goal line for the first fifteen minutes, you’ll be more rusty and thus, more prone to conceding the same kind of shots. In the case of thrashing, the goalkeeper does not make those saves in the opening minutes, which makes him mentally and physically rusty or we are more clinical and the goalkeeper cannot make those saves. In case you ask, I’m not a goalkeeper, but I do understand somewhat how being a goalkeeper works.

  8. Alexinho says:

    Stankevicius. It will be my son’s name.

  9. stephen says:

    I feel that if we have Henry in there, we are not going to make 3. Just saying. That poor dude, has dropped sooooooooooooooooooooo much, its crazy to me in jsut a few months.

    But we’ll def. win

    ps: thank you for including something for Haiti, I know Ive left the soccer world a little to the side, I am an engineering phD student and we’ll be helping them shortly, and i think everyone needs to gain consciousness of the disaster.
    Thanks again.

  10. inNYC says:

    La Liga has the best GKs of any league. They are just really good, and when a good goalkeeper is ready to deal, they deal. And playing against barca gives them the opportunity to play their best games. My personal opinion.

    Would also like to second the vote for donating to Partners in Health. It is an amazing organization that really understands what health care should be and how to deliver it, from Roxbury, MA, where I used to live, to Haiti, various countries in Africa, Russia and loads of other places across the world. If you give the few extra $ you can spare to them, it will not be wasted and will actually make a real difference.

  11. the mighty barca says:

    Ibra is great and has been all season. Stop the hating. I think David Villa would be a great signing and if he went to Madrid we would regret it. Why is it Spanish and Catalan sides won’t pay top dollar for Spanish players when they are clearly worth it like clearly goal machine Villa is.

  12. buya says:

    Not to seem petty, but I think you have the wrong time entered for the calculations of everyone’s local time. I am a fan, but not too amped about waking up at 5am for the game after some hard drinking in the night previous… Hawaii in the house!!!

  13. Eklavya says:

    can anyone confirm this:

    *http://goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2010/01/16/1747773/marc-muniesa-signs-first-professional-contract-with

  14. Isaiah says:

    Excellent spreadsheet from Ignacio Soriguera’s Twitter account (nachosuri): http://bit.ly/6iaHEk

    Not sure I agree with all of the fees as listed (€2m for Hleb while he’s on loan? Did Stuttgart really pay that!?), but definitely a good resource to have.

  15. JMo says:

    Madrid just went down 1-0 to Athletic after the 1st half, lets hope the Lions can keep it up!

    Go Basque Country!

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