News of the Day: February 16, 2010

If the press is to be believed, we’re down in the table by something like ten points to an all-powerful Real Madrid team that shows no signs of losing this season. Only a shocking, utterly unforeseeable, and completely impossible self destruction by the blancos would enable us to get back into the race. It is a sad day in Barcelona history, indeed, when we can only fight for a Europa League spot.

Wait, we’re first, up by 2 points, have scored more goals and allowed fewer than anyone else, have lost just once to RM’s three times, currently own the tiebreaker with the merengues, and face Racing at the weekend while they face an up-and-coming Villarreal? And we still have Messi? Oh. I guess we should accept that we’re the best team on the planet and we’re having some injury problems, but that everything will be fine and we’ll continue to win matches because we’ve got a supremely talented squad filled with competitive mofos who won’t even think about losing, much less accept it as an inevitability.

The willingness to overreact is understandable in the short-term, but given the light of day and the length of the season, failing to put the league away by mid February is not the least bit surprising. Would you want the season to be over by the coming week? I wouldn’t, though I’ll admit that I’d gladly take that over Real Madrid still having a shot at the title, but even better would be Valencia, Sevilla, and someone else still being in it rather than12 or more points out. That’s just me, though. I don’t like losing, but I understand it’s merits in terms of making things a bit more interesting.*

The news itself is, actually, somewhat depressing.

-Both Xavi and Seydou Keita will be out for the Stuttgart away match and Keita is likely to miss the return leg as well. Yaya Toure may be back in time to partner Sergio Busquets in midfield, but for now it looks like Andres Iniesta and Jonathan Dos Santos will be our attacking mids in the 4-3-3 formation. We’ve also go Thiago Alcantara waiting to get his shot in the starting lineup, which could mean that we’ll see a fairly young forward 6 come Saturday against Racing.

-On the defensive side of things, Dmytro Chygrynskiy is set to return to the squad for the Racing match, which should be a massive boost to the back line. Even given Marc Bartra‘s solid performance off the bench as the RB, he’ll likely return to the B squad and Carles Puyol will take over the RB spot. Maxwell should start every match at LB while Eric Abidal recovers from his muscle tear. If Gerard Pique and Rafa Marquez can successfully limit their suspensions to 1 or 2 matches, that would obviously help the situation, but I’m not sure what the chances of that are.

-The aforementioned Iniesta is on the verge of getting his 300th cap for the first team. Of the current first team players, only Puyol, Xavi, and Victor Valdes have more appearances. Congratulations to our little, balding maestro, whose Iniestazos and generally excellent  play have warmed the cold, dark parts of my heart many times over the last few years. And to think, he wore the 24 before The Yaya. Awesome.

-Apparently we’re looking at Ajax’s 23-year old Belgian international defender Jan Vertonghen as a potential summer signing. He plays mainly as a center back, meaning we’d be crazy to offer more than a stick of licorice for him. The Dutch like licorice, right? The thing is, here’s a list of defenders we have (age in parentheses): Puyol (31), Rafa Marquez (31), Eric Abidal (30), Gabi Milito (29), Maxwell (28), Dani Alves (26), Dmytro Chygrynskiy (23), Gerard Pique (23), Andreu Fontas (20), Marc Bartra (19), Albert Dalmau (17), and Marc Muniesa (17). On loan we have Henrique (23), Martin Caceres (22), and Alberto Botia (21). There is a slight age issue with the back line, but with Puyol and Marquez already re-signed through 2012, it’s hard to imagine that Vertonghen would get any sort of playing time before he too is “cresting the hill”. No doubt he’s a good player, but if he’s not an immediate backup for at least two positions (CB and RB, for instance) then he would be an absurd choice to spend money on. Don’t get me wrong, kid looks good, but whether or not he’s up for the big leagues, if he’s not far and away better than any of the above-listed players, we shouldn’t get near him. Our cantera is, after all, stacked with defensive talent at the moment.

-The new Table Prediction results are up, now that Tenerife and Mallorca played their stupid Monday Night Football game. Kevin O. maintains his solid lead, but only because he’s the one who put Zaragoza not down at the bottom of the table. My own predictions are currently tied for 2nd because Pythagorean Expectation put Atleti squarely where they are. Ah well.

-In Yahoo! Fantasy Soccer, I picked up an amazing 34.50 points because I forgot to remove The (Injured) Yaya from my lineup. Dammit. Then everyone else just sorta sucked, though my front line did well enough. Time to reorganize! The leader is still Hat Trick, who his/her lead over the rest of the top 5 by choosing Andres Palop (23pts) while everyone else had crappier GK results (I had German Lux for yet another lack of an appearance: 0pts!).

-In the Kevin Rating Synthesis, Sunday’s match was the lowest rated of the year, at an average of 4.38. The closest match was the first leg of the Sevilla tie in the Copa del Rey when the team grabbed a collective 4.92 and the closest Liga match was the 1-0 win against Almeria in which the team garnered a 5.57. That was also a 2-1 loss, by the way. Of the four ratings of 1 dished out by Kevin this year, two were on Sunday (Xavi and Jeffren) and two were during the draw against Villarreal (Bojan and Ibra). The highest rating on Sunday was Bartra’s 7.

-The KRS highest rated player of the year is Eric Abidal at 7.96 in all competitions. In the Liga it is again Abidal, this time at 8.33. The lowest rated player overall is Bojan Krkic with 4.13. In the league it is Jeffren with 2.50, though he’s only got 2 appearances.

And that, folks, is something to talk about today as I gear up for my first indoor match of the year and only my second one in like 4 months. Expect me to be wrecked tomorrow and barely up for getting myself home from my parents house (where I get to crash tonight, assuming they haven’t changed their locks). Also, podcasting with Madridistas tomorrow, so that should be fun. Expect me to be fiesty!

—–
*That said, my Jayhawks are currently 11-0 in the Big12 after last night’s shitshow of a game against Texas A&M that they squeaked out of and they are a lock to win the whole damned deal with 5 games (30% of the season). That, naturally, makes me quite happy, but it is kinda boring now because only the individual games mean anything, not the whole league, which has fallen apart except for the Rock Chalk Jayhawks cruising as the #1 team in the nation. So, roughly, I’d rather have competition than a year-in, year-out slugfest between two pre-determined teams. Not that I’m bringing up salary caps again (I am).

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

119 Comments

  1. jose
    February 17, 2010

    sorry if this has been cleared up already, but what’s the final say with busquets this upcoming weekend? I’m hearing a lot of conflicting reports (sort of like last weekend against atl), but is he eligible to play or out due to yellow card accumulation?

    • Kxevin
      February 17, 2010

      He is suspended against Racing, jose.

      • Helge
        February 17, 2010

        and it’s getting more and more confusing 😀

        *http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/noticies/futbol/temporada09-10/02/16/n100216109348.html

        official website says, Busquets and Iniesta will be part of our midfield against Racing. So who is right now?!?

      • Barcamaniac
        February 18, 2010

        True that.

        Sergio Busquets y Andrés Iniesta son los únicos centrocampistas de la plantilla del primer equipo con los que podrá contar Guardiola para el partido del sábado (20h) contra el Racing.

  2. February 17, 2010

    Could somebody post our health/suspension situation for the next two games. I am confused.

  3. cliveee
    February 17, 2010

    arsenal just lost. 2-1 in porto.
    i believe they need a better goalkeeper 2 or 3 seasons ago.

    • Kxevin
      February 17, 2010

      That’s a little bit of a surprise, even away from home and with the injuries. If they get bounced from CL early and don’t win the league, I predict that Fabregas is gone like last week’s milk.

      • jordi™
        February 17, 2010

        He was in tears in the post match interview.Id say hes gone.

      • jordi™
        February 17, 2010

        Well they looked like tears he was choking back, but there might have been onions around or something :D, wish i could see it again.

    • ElShowDeJason
      February 17, 2010

      well, say what you will about Almunia, but he didn’t play.
      It was Fabianski who started for Arsenal, and both goals were directly his fault.

  4. jordi™
    February 17, 2010

    Did anyone see the fiorentina bayern game./seems like Ovrebo is in the headlines again.

    • Kari
      February 17, 2010

      Yeah, the whole refereeing staff had howlers–but none more so than the linesman! I feel so sorry for Fiorentina. Here’s the video of the winning goal scored by Klose;

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUHWU0xf3xE

      Offside by a mile!

      • Ciaran
        February 17, 2010

        Poor referees can never get anything right.
        Fiore v Bayern… Van Bommel should have got a red card, Gobbi shouldn’t have got his red card, Gomez’ goal should have counted instead of the penalty & Klose’s goal should have been given for offside.
        Porto v Arsenal… UK press are annoyed because the referee didn’t have his hand up signalling that the free kick in the box was indirect & then impeded Sol Campbell from getting in the way.
        I think a direct free kick inside the box has a different name… mmmm… what was it again?… A penalty, that’s it.
        UK press clutching at straws. Everyone and their mama’s knows that a back pass is an indirect free kick inside the box… Well everyone except for Fabianski 🙂

        VILLARATO, I tells ya. No wait, that’s only if these conspiracies happen for us.

        Anyhoo… the mayor of Florence was not pleased. *http://www.goal.com/en/news/1716/champions-league/2010/02/17/1795637/uefa-has-embarrassed-the-city-of-florence-mayor-matteo-renzi

      • barca96
        February 17, 2010

        haha he should be mad!
        ridiculous refereeing!

  5. jose
    February 17, 2010

    thanks Kxevin.

    I watched the fiorentina v bayern game today too. It was an unfortunate result considering how well the viola played. hopefully they’ll see things through to the quarters since I don’t see Milan or Inter winning their respective ties (i’m sort of a serie a fan too).

  6. February 17, 2010

    does anyone have or has anyone played football manager, is it like manager mode in FIFA

    • vicsoc8
      February 18, 2010

      Manager mode on FIFA is like a soccer team for 15 year olds in the United States

      Football Manager is like Barcelona.

      • February 18, 2010

        That wasn’t very explanatory!

  7. fcb-gow
    February 17, 2010

    guyyysss…
    Rooney aint that gooodd. He’s alrightt but he aint wat u guys hype him up to be..
    he can finish…hurray, he cant dribble, can’t make a play… good vision though, but scores pure poacher golasooss.
    that aint my definitiion of a perfect stickerr…
    Ibra as much as i dont like his scoring problem is possibly the best stricker we couldve gott…he’s fast, strong, agile, poacher golas, long range, acrobats, play, vision is all extroadinary….I aint worried bout him as long as we got others scoring but trust me hell scoree this weekk…
    And busquets is playin…
    and last thing y not put henry in center and ibra on left…u never know:P

    • barca96
      February 17, 2010

      ibra is too slow to be a winger i guess
      but i would love to try it out

      • fcb-gow
        February 17, 2010

        yeh i know proly one of the main reasons i would put him there is…
        1)because of his vision, exapmle: xavi header against getafe, 40th minutishh
        2)henry to go centre forward and score some goals in order to bring up his confidence…
        he’s a tad slow but his vision would be amazing…
        and don’t u guys think Silva would be better than fabregas or ribery.
        Silava: Suited to our play and amazing left winger:D

  8. Jnice
    February 18, 2010

    LOL, Phil Schoen talking silly on World Football Daily. Saying that we tried to convert him to left back, but because of all the injuries we moved him to the other side. He talks out of his ass 98% of the time.

    • Blow-Granite
      February 18, 2010

      I would say he talks out of his ass 99.9% of the time.

    • Jnice
      February 18, 2010

      Convert Jeffren of course.

  9. February 18, 2010

    hey guys, what is the name of that new book about barcas title run last year, and where can i buy it?

  10. Barcamaniac
    February 18, 2010

    Toure and Chygro trained with the team today, while Alves and Xavi (!) worked with physios. I trust in our medical staff.

  11. Makis
    February 18, 2010

    Rafa Marquez’s and Pique’s suspensions are already down to one match, I read it on the official website.

  12. Hilal
    February 18, 2010

    Looks like Yaya and Chiggy are already back to full training with the squad, while Alves and Xavi are doing light training. Great freakin news considering the circumstances! We really needed the Yaya back to get some muscle in that midfield and he should be back for the game on Sat.. It even looks possible that we will have both Xavi and Alves back for the CL game next week 🙂 🙂

    • Helge
      February 18, 2010

      I’d rather not risk Xavi against Stuttgart and better let him recover completely. We can even draw in Stuttgart and still be the big favourite to reach the next round.

  13. February 18, 2010

    Health update!

    Alves: Light training on his own
    Xavi: Light training on his own
    The Yaya: Training with the squad
    Txigrinski: Training with the squad
    Abidal: Still knocked to kingdom come
    Keita: Still to’ up

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