Never Look Down: Barça – Racing

Liga Preview: Barça – Racing Santander, Saturday 2pmEST, GolTV

There will always be tough moments in a campaign, when things look dismal and darkened, the storm clouds seemingly gathering overhead to unleash hell. But let me ask you this: Did Lot’s wife ever falter in her step? Should Vizzini have been more prudent? Was Homer wrong to question the power of gravity over daredevilry? Er, right…ahem! Like Galileo questioning the foundations of science and faith, we too must forge ahead mercilessly in the face of criticism and misfortune, never release our hold on what we know to be true, and get false credit from future generations for throwing weighted stones off badly built towers.

So, yeah, basically I’m calling for Busi’s inclusion in the starting lineup. More on that later.

In Racing Santander, we face a team in need of a win after being bounced from the Copa del Rey by Atleti and losing 0-3 at home to Malaga. They are, however, entering this match without forwards Pedro Munitis and Mohammed Tchité and midfielder Gonzalo Colsa through suspension (yellow card accumulation), as well as goalie Toño, defender Christian Fernández, midfielder Edu Bedia, and forward Iván Bolado through injury. Instead, they’ve called up youth midfielders Luisma and Dani Espolita and they’ve recovered Henrique after the Brazilian defender went home to his native country to be with his wife while she gave birth to a daughter, Valentina, last week.

Their full squad list: Coltorti, Mario Fernández, Crespo, Torrejón, Pinillos, Oriol, Moratón, Henrique, Diop, Espolita, Lacen, Moral, Serrano, Luisma, Arana, Canales, Luis García, Xisco. Over at his fairly useful Yahoo! fantasy blog, Unai Martin envisions that they’ll play a 4-5-1 with Xisco at the point and I can’t say that I disagree with that, though in Racing-Barça match in September, they played a 4-4-2 with Munitis and Geijo up front. With Munitis out and Geijo playing for Udinese now, they’ll obviously be putting out different forwards, but it’s notable that their midfielder/forward, Oscar Serrano, was the one who scored against us and he’ll probably be looking to get another such goal against the run of play.*

While Eduardo Alvarez over at Soccernet thinks that Racing will lay down** like dogs for us–and even suggests that the three yellow card suspensions were on purpose, an allegation I can neither defend nor attack, having failed to see the Racing-Malaga match–I don’t see it as such a cut-and-dry affair. Yes, they’re on a bad run of form, having scored just once in their last 3 league matches (they did score three against Atleti when their Copa del Rey aggregate score was out of hand and Atleti stopped playing), but they’re still a solid team with good talent. The youngsters filling in for their suspended stars should come out looking to prove something against the reigning league, continental, and world champs (not that anyone is counting trophies) and that makes them dangerous.

As for our squad, Guardiola is once again keeping the list under wraps until the morning of, so we’ll have to make do with best guesses until then. With Piqué and Márquez returning from suspension and Chygrynskiy returning from injury, we’ve now got a full defensive line to work with. I don’t expect Rafa to start simply because there isn’t enough room for him between Puyol, Piqué, Milito, and Maxwell. I would generally be in favor of Muniesa, Márquez, Milito, Maxwell simply for the alliterative awesomeness, but our little Marky-Mark hasn’t been called up, so we’ll have to go with the PP-MM lineup instead. Ah well. Power-packed Pugilism Mixed with Magic. Or something. Sounds like a description of Ibra, actually.

The midfield is where the real questions are, I think. I said before that I’m advocating Busi’s inclusion in the lineup and my reasons are two-fold. First and foremost, there’s the impending return of The Yaya from injury, which means that our DM position should be vacated by our coltish, backward-heading phenom, but I’d rather a 100% Busi than an 80% Yaya who could re-injure himself before the Stuttgart match. Then there’s the question of Busi’s yellow cards. I believe that if he picks up another yellow card, he’ll be out for the next league match (home against Malaga). The likelihood of him not picking up a yellow even from the bench is minimal, so I say play him and get his suspension out of the way while giving The Yaya playing time at the right moment. That means holding The Yaya back and sacrificing a little bit of defensive solidity so that Stuttgart faces a wall of death whenever they venture out of their own half.

Feel free to criticize that line of argument in the comments. I can handle it.

Next to Busi, I’m calling for Iniesta and Jonathan dos Santos. I’m a bigger fan of the little Mexican than I am of Thiago and I’d like to see JDS get more playing time while he has the opportunity. Because I read Thiago as more of an Iniesta and JDS as more of a Xavi, I think the mixture works better if we don’t put two of the same type of player on the field at once. The only argument for Thiago that I can agree with is that he’ll have a better combo attack with Messi because JDS is still a bit sloppy positionally.

You’d think the front three would be the easiest to predict at this point in the season, but Guardiola’s insistence on putting out a different LW alongside Ibra and Messi in every match has been infuriating to a prediction-monster such as myself. I’m going to go out on a limb here and go with Henry on the left, with Ibra and Messi on the right. While I can understand to a certain degree that Pedro! might provide some more attacking verve, so to speak, I think that Kevin is right in repeatedly stating that Henry provides more width and more defense than our little P! can or does. It’s what causes people to admit that Henry is still several levels ahead of our Canarian or our Venezuelan. With Iniesta tied up in play-maker duties, we’ll need stronger LW support, meaning it’s Henry’s time to shine. You can do it, Titi.

The other two choices up front are obvious, so we won’t get into them as predictions. What’s more interesting is that this is Racing Santander we’re playing, the team where Ibra struck a monster header by climbing over Henrique and should have had another goal, but it bounced off the post and away to relative safety. That match ended 1-4 in our favor, with goals by Ibra, Messi (2) on some wonderful shooting, and Pique off a fabulous backheel by Ibra. You want to talk taconazos, do you, Madrid? Well, taconazo this, baywatches. I think Ibra will have another big match up front, but it might not be what you expect. Instead of golazos and a rise up the cherished pichichi chart, I think we’ll see him providing deft assists again and Messi jumping out to a greater goalscoring gap.

Lineup: Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Busi, JDS, Iniesta, Henry, Ibra, Messi.
Official prediction: 3-0. I know that Racing isn’t going to come in looking to get pummeled and will try their hardest, but goals by Messi (2) and Iniesta (!) will ensure that they go home feeling like jackasses anyway. Sergio Canales, their leading goalscorer with 5, is going to get stuffed repeatedly. Welcome to being a Madridista, buddy.

Time: 8pm local/Barcelona, 2pmEST/New York. Check your local time here.
: In th United States, this match will be aired on GolTV.

To wrap things up, I recorded another podcast with RealMadridTalk (along with Corey from The Offside and LaLigaWeekly). They’re gracious hosts and I can’t wait to get back into the “booth” with them in a few weeks to discuss the domestic and European situation. And for the record, I know I’ve been having trouble with my mic– I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with that. Nonetheless, enjoy:

*I do think that Unai Martin is getting some of the positions wrong in his lineups, but I think they’re solid nonetheless and certainly worth reading. What I mean is, Serrano most often plays on the left rather than the right, but could certainly be flopped if they want to pressure Maxwell instead of Puyol. We’ll have to see tomorrow, I suppose.
**The picture of Pellegrini at the bottom wasn’t of Pellegrini this morning when I first read the article. Now it’s been changed, but man, ESPN is on a roll with wrong picture credits. Are they hiring writers?

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. Sid
    February 19, 2010

    Excellent Preview Isaiah.

    Should be interesting to watch our youth in action along with Henrique.

    Also, want to see what the buzz about Canales is all about.

  2. February 19, 2010

    Great preview. Big news today, Laporta says we won’t make a bid for Cesc this summer. This is perfect, lets pick him up when he is 25 and Xavi’s career is winding down, at a cheaper price hopefully.

  3. Kari
    February 19, 2010

    Little short on time, but Henry has been frozen out of the squad, hasn’t he? I mean, last week at Atletico he didn’t play when we were at our weakest–he didn’t even come on as a sub!

    It’s strange; there hasn’t been any drama, or press talking about it, but something is definitely up with Titi.

    Me thinks Pedro! will start as LW. Gonna stick my head out and go for:


    • Blow-Granite
      February 19, 2010

      I think this is what the starting lineup will look like.


    • Karo
      February 20, 2010

      Henry has been playing basketball lately

  4. BL
    February 19, 2010

    wtf! wasn’t this game scheduled on sunday until very recently? can anyone comment on this or am i going crazy?!

    • Soto
      February 19, 2010

      Spain’s Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), which organizes La Liga, are notorious for announcing the day and time of games at the last moment. Throughout the season fans do not really know when a game is played until about a week beforehand.

      Frankly, I do not know how this continues to work for them. Somehow the fans and, more importantly to the bottom line, the networks tolerate this uncertainty in scheduling. This whole situation makes it more impressive when a team’s fans attend an away game, since precise scheduling of travel and accommodation is basically impossible.

      • BL
        February 19, 2010

        yeah i know all that, and sadly now i’m screwed.

        i’m arriving in barcelona on saturday at 9pm and i thought this match was on sunday, i bought tickets earlier this week and SWEAR it was still posted as sunday on the official ticket site. servicaixa is where i bought them from and it had the saturday date but i assumed it was a mistake since the official site still said sunday. that was dumb… *shakes fist at self and the LFP*

        ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH. goddammit i am pissed off.

        • Soto
          February 19, 2010

          Damn, that bites. I hope you find a work around that let’s you see the game.

        • Helge
          February 19, 2010

          omg 🙁

          That’s really f***ed up. How long will you stay in Barcelona?

          It’s only a cold comfort, but the city of Barcelona is actually worth a journey itself. Nonetheless, a Barca match at Camp Nou has to top everything (when I was in Barcelona for the first and only time of my life, it’s already been summer pause for football…).

          • BL
            February 19, 2010

            it truly is f***ed up. i’m investigating changing my connecting flight to get there a few hours earlier so i can make a mad dash from el prat to camp nou !!! not sure what the hell i’ll do with my bags though!


            this would’ve been/will be my 3rd trip to camp nou (2nd this season! woohoo!), i love the city more than words can describe.

            i was lucky enough to see the 6-1 vs zaragoza earlier this season, zlatan’s space lazer beam freekick was truly something to behold.

        • cliveee
          February 19, 2010

          wow, you are (will be) in barcelona! enjoy it for the sake of us all who can’t be there!

          show a BFB sign to see if the camera can catch it!

  5. February 19, 2010

    great preview… but my gut feeling says that we might migh just see chgryskii in the match…

  6. vicsoc8
    February 19, 2010

    Have to disagree with you on one point – I think Thiago is going to be much better than JDS.

    I think JDS is currently a better choice to play this weekend, but Thiago has the potential to be magical.

  7. Soto
    February 19, 2010

    Yesterday was a dead brain day for me. Somehow I forgot how many young players we have available for the mid-field position.

    I don’t have a strong football argument for either Two Saints over Thiago or vice versa. I want Thiago to play only because I want to accusatively yell “Thiago!!” in a Shakespearean manner in the middle of the bar tomorrow.

    “Thiago! Thiaaa-gooo!!”

  8. eklavya
    February 19, 2010

    hahaha “WHAT the hell was MARCELO doing in the line up” 😀
    “thats insane”

    Hilarious part of the Podcast!

  9. vicsoc8
    February 19, 2010

    My preferred lineup:

    Puyol – Pique – Milito – Maxwell
    JDS – Busi – Iniesta
    Messi – Ibra – Henry

    Basically the same as Isaiah’s

      • eklavya
        February 19, 2010

        That’s weird, it’s the same lineup as mine!

      • vicsoc8
        February 19, 2010

        Ahhhh I mis-typed: “Basically, the same as Isaiah’s”

    • vicsoc8
      February 19, 2010

      Also, I’m slightly confused (Nothing new here) – are your lineups predicted or preferred Isaiah?

      PS – Great minds think alike

  10. Soto
    February 19, 2010

    “Power-packed Pugilism Mixed with Magic”

    How about “Plucky Pugilists Making Magic” ?

  11. Eduard
    February 19, 2010

    Cool new artice at the worldcupblog


    I would love to do something like that but I’m way to lazy to apply.

  12. Zlatanator
    February 19, 2010

    I want Iniesta to score soooo much. He has been so close recently, but just can’t make that final touch work.

  13. cliveee
    February 19, 2010

    What? Iniesta to score? I don’t believe it! but I wish it will happen! I tip Ibrahimovic to score instead.

  14. cliveee
    February 19, 2010

    outspoken defender pique continues to voice out his “wish-list”. lol, apparently kxevin will love it, but it isn’t going to happen. It probably is a “hell no” from ferguson as well.

  15. Helge
    February 19, 2010

    “Sergio Canales, their leading goalscorer with 5, is going to get stuffed repeatedly. Welcome to being a Madridista, buddy.”

    Haha, that’s exactly what I’m hoping for. Even if Racing plays against other teams, I’m satisfied if Canales has a bad match. He turned to the dark side, he could have gone anywhere but not to the EE. And it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if another talent wasts his career. In 1.5 years, Crynaldo and Pipita will still be there, and in best ages, so what’s he gonna do their?

    We shouldn’t underestimate Racing, maybe they’re trying to play psycho tricks on us with all the suspensions. Iniesta and Messi will have to be in good shape, Xavi’s absence is a massive blow.

  16. Jim
    February 19, 2010

    After two or three glasses of wine i’ve decided that I want to see Yaya at DM, Busi (lets see him without so many defensive duties – he has the quick feet and passing) and Iniesta in midfield and Henry on the LW.

    Btw, if Ibra doesn’t link up better than he has been doing ( whoever’s fault it is) we need to start working on a plan B. Could that be Henry at CF?

    • February 19, 2010

      I am down with the idea of Yaya-Busi-Iniesta, actually, but for injury/suspension reasons, I say hold off on Yaya’s inclusion. But if Guardiola does put that lineup out there, I will cheer.

  17. February 19, 2010

    I know people think its stupid, but i say we gat as many first teamers in the starting lien up as possible, we need to win this game.


    lets se what the best player in the world can do in a creative/attacking mid role.

  18. Jnice
    February 19, 2010

    I’m pretty sure Sid Lowe is the commentator on that video of Ibra’s assist.

    • Jnice
      February 19, 2010

      Random, I know.

      Anyway, I hope we win big with Iniesta (yeah right) and Ibra getting on the score sheet.

    • Kari
      February 19, 2010

      Nope, that’s not Sid Lowe! No way would he’d be so monotone when a play like THAT happens. This is Sid Lowe 😀


      • Jnice
        February 20, 2010

        Ah, you are correct. I thought he was a bit monotone for that type of a pass, LOL. Voices just sounded alike to me.

  19. inNYC
    February 19, 2010

    Were you using the mic on your computer for that podcast Isaiah? Like a Skype sort of deal?

  20. inNYC
    February 19, 2010

    I also vote heavily in favor of BFB representation on “Bud House.” I think Isaiah should apply at the very least.

        • inNYC
          February 19, 2010

          And I suggest you start filling out your AWESOME entry form. I think expressing either an unconditional love for, or a controversial aversion to, all alcoholic products owned and/or distributed by Budweiser would be a good strategy. Not to mention your intent to watch the June 12 match in full revolutionary war regalia, and your commitment to learning to play the fife by that date.

  21. barca96
    February 19, 2010

    ive always thought that busi would be a better CM than a Dm so we should try that out in the latter stages of the match to give yaya some warm-up for the CL.
    should start with jds.maybe later sub with thiago. this is really a good chance for us to watch our youngsters again.
    hopefully barta will play again and maybe muniesa.please no chiggy.

    LW should go to jeffren. he should be rewarded for being professional last week and he deserves a shot at lw. pedro failed last week so should be benched and let the old man henry rest some more for CL action!
    that is where he shines, on the big nights

  22. Karo
    February 19, 2010

    I just recently found this blog. Great articles and a great review. I can see the first hattrick by Ibra in this match for some reason.

  23. Blow-Grenade
    February 20, 2010

    This one would be a very interesting match as far as lineups are concerned. Curious to see what Pep has in mind for tomorrow.

    • Blow-Grenade
      February 20, 2010

      Here go the highlights from the last Barca Racing match.
      That video is a pleasure to watch. Both goals by Messi are exquisite.

      • Kari
        February 20, 2010

        Ahh, they really were awesome–the second Messi goal was token 06-08 Messi.

        Here’s hoping for a similar performance!

  24. Barcamaniac
    February 20, 2010

    To a question on Titi not appearing in the last 3 matches, Pep came out with: “There are others who haven’t played for longer, and I myself – for more than 5 years.” 🙂

    • Kxevin
      February 20, 2010

      Guardiola’s full quote regarding Henry:

      “Few people have more confidence in Henry than I do. He is a very important player and while he may have gone three games without playing, others have gone longer.

      “I have not played for five years,” he joked.

      • eklavya
        February 20, 2010

        And here’s what Henry said:

        “I have absolutely no trouble with the coach. I respect his choices, if I had scored 15 goals the situation would be different. Personally, I think I don’t deserve to play. Currently there are better players than me. Anyway, I will go on fighting and working like a dog during training sessions.”

  25. Kxevin
    February 20, 2010

    So, I just realized that Eto’o (plan to watch Inter/Sampdoria) hasn’t been starting because of Pandev, and rumors are that he’s on the outs with Mourinho. Interesting.

    –Meanwhile, Sport speculates that Henry will get some pitch time today, because the coaching staff has made him a priority in training, now that we are upon Champions League matches, etc. They and EMD also think that Marquez will get significant time, since Guardiola tends to rely on veterans for important matches such as this one against Racing.

    –We’re EUR30,000 poorer thanks to a fine imposed by UEFA, when their doping control guys came to our training ground and found it shuttered. 😀 Holiday off, don’cha know? Thanks to a clerical error, somebody forgot to tell UEFA we’d be taking the day off.

    Now, naysayers will say that we were ducking the doping control guys, because of the intense steroid program that Iniesta is on, to retain his manly immensity. The goal is to make him as big as The Yaya, but with the same ball skills. So between steroids and the rack, the 3-year program is expected to come to fruition with a Super Iniesta, as the club is calling it in secret.

    Stay tuned.

  26. Hector
    February 20, 2010

    Sport is saying that Henry has the flu and is doubtful to play.

    Dammit! 🙁

    • February 20, 2010

      The curse keeps on going then. Decoding the EE president name: flu-rent-in-operation. Not a coincidence, I am telling you…

      A far call, but I want Messi to play in the midfield today. Unlikely happening. And if Henry can’t play, it will be impossible then (The Messi-Iniesta partnership).

      • Hector
        February 20, 2010

        Agreed. Looks like it might just be JDS or Thiago time.

  27. Helge
    February 20, 2010

    Stuttgart smashed Cologne away from home 5-1. 4 goals from Cacau. They are definitely flying high since appointing a new coach. 6 wins out of 7. They’ll have a lot of confidence, I think it’ll be a tricky match.

    Great words from Henry, unlucky that he’s not able to play today.

  28. Hector
    February 20, 2010


    Sport was wrong. Badly wrong regarding Henry. According to EMD the lineup is Puyol, PIque, Marquez, Maxwell, Yaya, Busi, Iniesta, Messi, HENRY, and BOJAN.

    Apparently now it’s Ibra that was scratched with an ankle bothering him according to EMD.

    This is nuts!

    • Miguel
      February 20, 2010



      no jds either. i’m thinking he’s subbed on, or thiago, for toure in the second half. no milito. pep’s going with, according to paradigma guardiola, “la pareja de centrales que mas repitio la temporada pasada.” //

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