The Purple People Eaters: Valladolid – Barça

Liga Preview: Valladolid – Barça, Saturday 2pmEST, GolTV

If you haven’t, you should read the La Liga Prediction Challenge post and give it a whirl. And also listen to me podcasting my little patootie off. So then, to the preview…

I remember as a child wandering through a museum somewhere–I have no idea where at this point, since I was maybe 8 or 9 at the time–and the crown jewel of the Spanish history section was a massive altar setup that was from some town with a fairly unpronounceable name: Vah-la-doe-lid, once I figured out that it wasn’t, in fact, Vadalodilid or Valalidolad. My Spanish at the time was non-existent and now the grown-up me laughs at child me for being such a putz, but I was impressed with the woodwork in the altar.

It turns out that Valladolid (Baya-doh-leed, more or less), a town in the middle of Spanish wine country and built along the bank of the Pisuerga River, has quite the history. It’s origins appear to be as a Roman outpost, but then fell under Moorish rule, becoming a modest village until the 10th century when it was captured by the Spanish. It was a city by the time 1469 rolled around and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were married there, uniting the Kingdom of Spain. Valladolid became the capital of this newly created nation and remained so until 1561, when it was demoted in favor of this crappy place called Madrid. Boo*. Cervantes lived there when he published the first part of Don Quixote in 1605 and Christopher Columbus died there in 1506, only a few years after “discovering” an inhabited land you may have heard of.

Real Valladolid itself wasn’t founded until 1928 and didn’t make its first appearance in the Primera until the 1948/49 season. The team was founded by combining Real Unión Deportiva de Valladolid and Club Deportivo Español, the latter of which split off and became Real Union.** Their best ever finish in the Primera was 4th in 1962-63. Valladolid took the nickname of the town, pucela, a name that has several potential meanings as well as the royal purple color. They still rock the purple and thus the title of this particular preview.

If you’re not an American football fan, you might not know who the Purple People Eaters are (and you might not even if you are a fan of the NFL), but, basically, they were a rough-and-tumble set of defensive linemen playing hard-nosed football for the Minnesota Vikings in the 60s and 70s. It’s not that Valladolid is anywhere near as dominate as the PPEs were, but they aren’t exactly shy about sticking in the boot. And they wear purple. Sure, they play in a stadium named after a Romantic poet (Jose Zarillo), but you can’t have everything and a touch of culture never hurt anyone, I don’t think. So there you have the title and how I think Valladolid is going to approach this match.

Stats comparison:
Valladolid overall: 3W-8D-7L (23GF 32GA)
Barça overall: 14W-4D-0L (46GF 10GA)

Valladolid home: 2W-4D-3L (15GF 17GA)
Barça away: 6W-3D-0L (20GF 4GA)

These numbers are a pretty strong indication of how much better Barça is, especially when you add in that Valladolid is currently 17th in the standings, only one solitary point clear of the relegation zone. Barça earns 2.56 points per match (46 total), while Valladolid earns 0.94pts per match (17 total). Then, of course, there’s the squad Barça have named for the trip:

Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Chygrynskiy, Milito, Márquez, Puyol, Piqué, Abidal, Maxwell, Jonathan Dos Santos, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Henry, Bojan, Pedro, Messi, Ibrahimovic

The re-inclusion of Keita, recently returned from African Cup of Nations duty, can’t help but cause Valladolid manager Jose Luis Mendilibar to groan. If you’re going to face us, you might as well face us when we’re down a horse, rather than when the stable is nearly full. The only thing he can really smile about is that we’re missing our prime defensive midfielders: The Yaya and Busi. The former is still with Cote d’Ivoire in Angola and the latter is injured for the match. Puyol, who was subbed off against Sevilla last weekend, has apparently not suffered serious enough damage to his back even though he missed practice on Thursday because of it. Turns out, unbeknownst to anyone, Puyi is a warrior. Huh.

So, with Ibra claiming he needs to get better and Messi scoring at an absurd pace, Valladolid must put the third worst defense in the league against the best offense. Say what you will about Valladolid’s talent, but they’ve got some serious cojones if they even turn up tomorrow. They may not be relegation fodder (Pythagorean Expectation using 1.36 as the exponent predicts they’ll end up 15th, which would make three years in a row for them at that location), but they’re certainly not European contenders and I think that this match will, in the end, be a fairly routine one.

The question, of course, is who do we put at DM because of Busi’s absence? Do we rotate in Chygrynskiy, Marquez, or Pique? Do we try Keita’s hand there? Here’s my guess as to the whole setup: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, Marquez, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Ibra, Messi.

Without matches in midweek for another month, we don’t have to worry about fatigue and without injuries to anyone other than Busi, we don’t have to worry about depth quite as much either. Keita’s return gives us a very solid option off the bench in case we need steel at the back during the second half. I’m personally in favor of him being on the bench simply because the travel and the matches he played for Mali are probably still weighing down his legs a little. Put Marquez in front of his buddy Puyol and you know he’ll be marshaled correctly and Rafa will be able to supply Ibra and Messi with those long balls a bit more easily.

Official Prediction: 0-2, Barça, goals by Ibra and Messi. Sometimes there’s just no stopping a freight train.
TV: This match will be on GolTV in the US.
Time: 8pm Barcelona/local, 2pm EST/New York. Check your local time here.

*Valladolid was the capital once again from 1601-1606, but that’s just sorta crappy, right?
**You might remember Real Union, of course, as one of the teams that garnered promotion the Segunda last year. They did so by beating little-known fellow terceristas Alcorcon. But, of course, the reason I’m mentioning it is the other thing they did last season: being the first tercera team to knock Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey. Take that, Alcorcon!

And to end things on a perhaps interesting personal note: Tomorrow morning I take of in an aeroplane to fly south to Mexico for a few days of sun and relaxation. I’ll still be making the occasional comment here, of course, and I’ll be writing next week’s preview of the Sporting match, but Kevin and Hector will be taking over for a week. They’re obviously up for the job and can more than handle it. So, with that, I head on out to the sun and warmth of not here, which is a great feeling. Hector, of course, is not allowed to be jealous since he’s probably reading this from the beach anyway. Jerk.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Just wanted to re-post video:

    Kind of off topic, but I found the video of Guardiola at the concert where they were pleading for him to re-sign his contract (its been in the headlines lately, obviously before the press conference)


    1. it’s so endearing! if only i could understand what they were saying..

    2. I’m usually too lazy to comment, but I really think non-Catalan speakers deserve to know what was going on in that concert.

      1) “Manel” is the name of a pretty popular Pop-Folk-Indie band. They have only released one album so far, but they sort of became the band of the year in 2009. (A little over-hyped, but still pretty good IMHO.)

      2) The concert was in “Palau de la Música Catalana” (Palace of Catalan Music), which is an impressive modernist building mostly used for classical music concerts. From time to time, though, catalan bands are able to play there. (You can think of it as the “coming of age” of young bands.)

      3) One of the most well-known songs by Manel is “Corrandes de Parella Estable” (roughly translated as “Songs of Stable Couples”), which basically repeats the same structure over and over again: sentence or comment about a couple, followed by “Ens ha costat deu i ajuda arribar fins aquí” (“It has been hard as hell to get here”, or more literally “It cost god and help to get here”).

      For instance:
      I like Asterix
      She loves Tintin
      It has been hard as hell to get here

      4) At the end of the concert, it is customary to let random people sing their own version of “Corrandes de Parella Estable”. The guys in that concert literally said: “I only wish for one thing… that Guardiola signs”

      My translation sucks, but I hope you get the idea.

    3. Thanks a lot for clarifying it 🙂
      Must have been a very emotional moment, it’s great to see the people stand up for their wishes. And the best of it: It worked!
      (although Pep would most-likely have signed anyway, nice anecdote)

    4. Hey, thanks a lot for that mate! that was helpful indeed! They sing with so much heart and love that Pep would have probably cried again 🙂

    5. interesting story. is that structure possible derived from the Troubadours? it sounds like it to me.

      i would also be interested to know how many of the american readers understand the asterix and tin tin references? i ask only because my wife is american (i am not) and she had never heard of either of these two wonderful comics/stories. i cant even begin to imagine life without them haha!

    6. andrew M: I don’t think so. A “corranda” is a small and usually improvised song or dance, but it is more of a Baroque/Renaissance thing. (See also: French “courante”.)

    7. Primer cop que els sento i ara no puc parar!!
      Els Manel son com el Barça: catalans, fent be la seva feina i refrescants!!!

  2. awesome read ….. i just have a feeling chiggy might start …..playin away from nou camp might help him regain some confidence…

    1. I thought of that, but, hey, a guess is a guess, right? Guardiola will probably surprise us all by putting Valdes at the point and Ibra in goal (he’s tall enough and has the flexibility!).

  3. I’m pumped for this game. Not used to having no mid week Barca to tide me over. What I hope to see is Keita in an advanced DM role, and also for us to take over this match quickly. I don’t want to score within the first 25 minutes, something we haven’t done recently, correct me if I’m wrong. Have fun in mexico, have a margarita or two. or three!

  4. Has anybody been reading Guillem Balague latley regardind the Pepsters situation at Barca ? He was at it again today in the daily mirror saying he only signed this one year extention so as not to distract the players and get Laporta off his back, Aparently according to Balague his dream is to move to London raise his kids there perfect his E

  5. continued: English before managing a club there. Normally I think his pieces are good but I can’t help think this is utter bollix. Then again even taking into account he’s an Espanyol fan why would he make this up ?

  6. Also Txiki was saying we need 3 new players. Fine until he says we need a defensive midfielder in case we sell Ya Ya. Why in the name of God would we sell the best defensive midfielder in the world? There’s nobody better to replace him so he should be kept at all costs.

    1. he should leave if he thinks he as an individual is more important than the team. seems I hear/read too much about yaya complaining about not enough minutes, or how it would be nice to play with his brother in the premier league.

  7. my line-up prediction:

    Alves Puyol Milito Maxwell
    JDS Iniesta
    Messi Ibra Henry

    Not sure if Pep see the chance of having Pique at DM or not, but I surely would love to see it happen.

    1. i thought pep said the only player who will play every single match he is fit for is Xavi as he considers him the most important player on the team?

      but other than that i really like this lineup. i want to see pique smash some shit up yaya style in midfield!

  8. Thanks, Isaiah and Bill for answering my question in my previous post even though my question was quickly Hectored.

  9. Isaiah- What part of Mex you going to?… Hope it’s the Caribean coast. Beautiful beaches!

    1. Puebla has amazing molé. Nice city too, a lot of European influence there. I also love there meat sandwhiches- forgot the name of them, but damn… they’re good.

      Parents are from another mountainous region in Mexico, Michoacan. Close to where Rafa M. grew up (Zamora). Wish he’d get his act together. He sux right now, must be part of getting old.

  10. Can someone answer this question for me Is it possible for say Pep does the most spiritual rotation ever and uses Valdes as our Striker and uses Ibra as The keeper. What do you all think?

  11. History lessons with Isaiah are the best I’ve ever experiened in my life 🙂

    I wonder if we shouldn’t line-up a “weakened” team, that is e.g. to start with Piqué and Chygrynskiy in central defence, Bojan on the left wing and JDS in midfield. If Pep wants to give these players some more chances, this is the perfect opportunity. Valladolid should be beatable, even with such a team. And if it gets complicated, bring on Pedro/Messi and Iniesta. If we play with Isaiah’s line-up, I wonder if the B teamers will get any more playing time this season…

  12. 1. If the B-teamers don’t get any more playing time this season, it’s their own fault. You get a spot with the big boys by manning up in practice, and making it impossible to hold you down.

    2. If The Yaya is sold, that’s life. Barca will still be Barca.

    3. Early goals are, as ever with us, crucial. But so is defending. We’re lucky with this one in that we should be able to afford to rest Puyol. There are more important matches than this one. Why risk his back on what should, on paper, be a stroll in the park?

    4. Anybody sitting on a beach where it is warm, and they can rock the bare skin, can kiss my butt. (Yes, this means YOU, Isaiah and Hector).* 😀

    *Dyspeptic screed from the tundra that is Chicago.

  13. –And hey, whoa, we want to lock Piquenbauer down until 2015, with a 150m buyout clause. Wow.

    –Del Bosque has said that yes, Valdes is kicking out the jams and has earned a call-up, but he won’t get one, barring alien abductions or a rash of injuries, because of all the preferred candidates vying for the Number 1 shirt.

    –And I’m going to firestart here by saying that while Valdes is the perfect keeper for us, I’m not so sure he would be that much of a delight in the World Cup, with its set pieces and more static defending, where a keeper such as Casillas excels.

    1. set pieces + static defending = Pepe Reina. dude’s a monster in his box, he don’t fuck around. must be nice to have Del Bosque’s problems of too many good players for each position.

      oh and contra Hector, i think RM are going to lose tomorrow. i’m calling an upset.

    2. Read my mind regarding Reina.

      I won’t complain if Malaga prove me wrong and pull it off. 😀 If it was at Malaga’s place I could maybe see it but at the Bernabeu its gonna be tough as hell.

      I’ll cheer for our boy Xavi Torres though.

  14. Hey Isaiah… While you’re in Mexico, remember:

    1. If you need beer, drink Negro Modelo, Bohemia, or Dos X Amber. Everything else is garbage

    2. If you need Tequila drink Don Julio. Patron is is for uncultured and pretentious yuppies.

    3. Eat as much Ruffles de Queso, Drinkable Mango Yogurt, bottled coke, and agua de pin~a as possIble. It’s so much better there!

    But I suppose I don’t need to tell you all of this… Since you’ve lived their B4… (right?)

    1. i heard the coke (a-cola) is better in mexico because they use proper cane sugar whereas in the usa they use some other more processed form of sugar… is this true?…anyone?

    2. 100% true.
      In Mexico CocaCola is still made with real cane sugar.
      In the US CocaCola, like almost all of our food, is made with high-fructose corn syrup.
      The cane sugar stuff is a lot better.
      The CokeCompany in the U.S. actually strongly discourages the Mexican product to make it’s way to the U.S. fearing that people would demand cane-sugar coke, but would be unwilling to pay more for it even though high-fructose corn syrup is much cheaper. As it is, Coca Cola is more expensive than Pepsi.
      Nevertheless, here in San Diego, you can buy Mexican coke in a lot of Liquor stores, most ethnic market stores, and some restaurant supply club depots..

    3. I’ll be drinking Indio most of the time, probably. And don’t worry, I return to the States with the maximum allowed amount of Don Julio. No te preocupes guey. I got it covered on the alcohol front.

      As for the other stuff, I don’t drink pop very often so I won’t be imbibing much Coke unless it’s mixed with something. Same with jumex. Agua fresca will definitely be consumed in large quantities.

  15. Have fun on your well deserved break, Isaiah!

    If its any consolation, Kevin, its been raining over here for over a week. It looks like England except its still over 70 although people have broken out the hoodies since it dropped below 78. 🙂

    I’m an upper midwest vet so I can sympathize with your plight.

    We gotta rock and roll tomorrow. There is a good chance that RM will take care of business against Malaga but I believe next up for them is Depor at the Riazon, where the whities haven’t won in something in the range of 19 or so years. So yeah…statistical evidence points to a decent probability of us adding a few points to our lead as long as we keep dealing.

    BTW Anybody else intrigued about the Milan derby on Sunday? Should be a good one. It will be interesting to see how Milan will look like when they get Pato back. That said, they are awfully thin depth wise. One Pirlo, Ronny, Boriello, or Nesta injury and they are in deep doo doo.

    1. heck yes!! I think the Milan derby is on everyone’s mind. With Ronaldihno at 85% of what he was a Barca on one side and Eto’o doing the usual should be a thriller in Milano

    2. 85% ? Ha.. Milan would rape Inter if that were true.. Considering his form recently was based against Siena (bottom) and Juve (Italy’s Pathetico, even the goals he scored came from a header and an uncharacteristic poaching effort).

      I’d say he’s still at 35%, lets see what he does Sunday before passing judgement on his ‘resurrection’..

    3. Eto’o won’t do anything since he is still in Angola.
      I’m also looking forward to the Derbi della Madonnina, it’s actually my favourite match of this weekend. Milan has been playing pretty good recently, despite Pato being injured. Ronaldinho is at best back at 50%, not 85%… but 50% R80 can be enough to beat a decimated Inter (they’ve got barely any midfielders left, plus the obvious absence of Eto’o). And that would make the title race really exciting – whereas I thought Inter is already the new and old champion.

    4. Im pumped up about the Milan Inter derby. My biggest worry is not Pato getting back into the squad since Boriello is filling in the Striker shoes. My worry is their defence and the Nesta injury.

  16. My Lineup Prediction:

    Alves Pique Milito GreyHound
    Xavi Keita Iniesta
    Messi Ibra Henry

  17. line-up



  18. I think its a bit harsh to say Ronnie’s only playing 35% of his Barca form, VJ. I’ve been watching the Internet streams and to me he’s back running at defenders again. Even pulled off an elastico a couple of weeks ago as well and to do that in a competitive match is always superhuman imo. Never tire of seeing it. Look where the defender goes…!.html

    Love to see him doing well as to me he’s still the most talented footballer in the world with a ball at his feet. However, I’ll not be too upset if they go out in the round after beating Man U. Fate has a horrible habit of setting up rematches.

    1. The reason I say 35% is that we haven’t yet seen what he can do to ‘good’ teams.. Remember he destroyed both Madrid and Chelsea away, not to mention Milan.. At the height of his powers he was capable to beat any opposition he wanted to.. Till that happens, he’ll still be at 35%..

  19. Hey, when did the “Your comment is awaiting moderation” start ? Was this after our visitors from the EPL ?

  20. I just unlocked it, Jim.

    Nah. It always does that when you post a link. That’s why you see many people adding a “\” or a * to any link before the http part. Its the spam filter. I know its annoying but in the long run, its worth it because it helps immensely to keep out all the spamming bots.

  21. Ahh Pep. You can just tell what he was like when he was a player.


    Oh! And for everyone who thinks Pep treats superstars differently…


    When he talks, you listen– to ALL of it 😀

    Naturally, this video would be from an EE blog. Ah, the lengths the Madrid press will go 😀

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