If you think we’ve got it bad with injuries and suspensions for the upcoming match at Atletico Madrid, just remember this one word that should ease most of your angst and cause you to sigh in relief: Portsmouth. They’re facing some serious problems over in Jolly (and doubtlessly sunny) Blighty over debt accrual and failure to pay taxes. Of minor consequence (at least to those considering putting them in administration) is their failure to pay the full sum of transfer fees to other clubs. So while we’re moaning about missing out on Alves, Pique, Marquez, Chygrynskiy, and possibly Puyol, we’re at least not faced with relegation, points deductions, debt that could put our club out of business entirely, and we don’t have a coach that looks like Boss Nass from Star Wars (h/t 2ndCitySophia and Chelsea Offside).
Instead, we have one of the most financially stable, if not the most financially stable, clubs in the world with virtually no debt, a cantera filled with gems, a first team filled with superstars, a 5 point lead in the domestic table, a good shot at winning the Champions League, and a coach that rocks the hell out. And yes, we happen to have some serious injury and suspension issues before the next match, which is generally one that gives us problems, and we’re surrounded by vile rumors from a bad luck charm, but at least we’re not Portsmouth. I think that all teams who aren’t Portsmouth can at least say that, right? Real Betis and Real Sociedad fans are probably even saying that at the moment.
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So, to the actual news:
-Not enough was made on either this site, the official site, or in the rags (Sport and EMD) about FCB re-signing Jeffren and giving him the #20 first team shirt. His deal goes through June 30, 2012 and has a buyout clause of €10million. Congratulations to Jeffren for his new contract and I can’t wait to see him jitterbugging about the field once again. Hopefully he continues to have a solid year of improvement so that next year he can become a regular contributor to the squad. The official site has a small piece on it here. His career statistics include 11 competitive matches for the first team (5 league, 4 Copa, 1 CL, 1 CWC), but no goals.
–Canteranos Marc Muniesa, Marc Bartra, and Albert Dalmau all trained with the first team squad today in preparation for the match against Atletico on Sunday. All three are defenders, with Dalmau being a right fullback and Bartra and Muniesa being mixed center- and fullbacks. Bartra has yet to make a competitive appearance with the first team and as such I find it less likely that he’ll start over Dalmau on the right. I still imagine that none of these players will get a start despite Carles Puyol continuing to work individually with a trainer rather than taking part in full practices. El Capitan is not expected to miss Sunday’s match, but Guardiola is obviously not taking any chances with who he trains.
El Mundo Deportivo has mentioned that Jeffren has previously played at right back for us during the Copa del Rey campaign and could get the nod there against Atleti. That Copa match, however, was against Cultural Leonesa and not a serious opponent like Atleti at the Calderon. Still, it could be an interesting experiment if Guardiola finds himself wanting more attacking power on the right side and far less defensive security (basically a 3-4-3).
-Jonathan dos Santos was also training with the first team squad and could be a replacement for Andres Iniesta if the slight knock he (Iniesta) received on Tuesday is more serious than expected. Despite the knock being serious enough to raise concern with all the Don Andres fans, it turns out our #8 is not as fragile as some think by looking at his sun-drenched skin and manly mane of hair. He’ll get the start on Sunday and little JDS will have to wait another day before he’s given the green light in the first team again.
-The list of our suspended is currently at Gerard Pique and Rafa Marquez, both of whom saw red this past Saturday against Getafe. Sergio Busquets doesn’t appear to be suspended because despite earning a 5th league yellow against Getafe, he had previously earned 2 yellows during one match (against Real Madrid) and served a one match suspension for that double yellow-induced red. It therefore appears that he has will be suspended either after the next yellow or the second one he accrues from now.
-The list of our wounded is currently at Dmytro Chygrynskiy (1 week), Eric Abidal (2 months), Dani Alves (3 weeks), and Yaya Toure (2 weeks). Add in Puyol and that’s a mighty fine defensive lineup we have unable to play. Ta leaves a back line with an open RB slot and, if Puyol really is unable to play, with an open CB slot as well and we’ll see some dramatic reorganizing, including the possibility of Keita starting at the back. What I think is fairly certain is Guardiola putting Milito and Maxwell on the left side of defense if Puyol is able to play, in which case I see Puyi getting the start in the middle and Dalmau starting on the right.
–Bojan Krkic is saying all the right things. He doesn’t appear to be worried about his playing time as much as others think he should be and he seems to know that at 19, he’s got a long ways to go in what should be an illustrious career. Working hard now will develop good habits (thanks, Phil Ball) and will pay off in boatloads of goals and assists later in his career, regardless of who he ends up playing regular first team ball for.
-In the rumor mill world, Cesc Fabregas has added even more weight to the obvious deal done between himself and Barça by denying it is a real deal. “No” is the new “yes” and we all know it!