It’s another Champions League day, but instead of playing Stuttgart in the snow, we’re going to watch other teams battle it out in their second leg encounters. Arsenal host Porto (1-2 on aggregate) and Fiorentina host Bayern Munich (1-2 on aggregate) at 2:45 on FSC or Fox Sports en Español. Barça, meanwhile, has been practicing in this freaky March snowstorm. Let’s get to them.
-Once again, the team practiced in pretty crap conditions, but this time they were forced to a side field because it had artificial turf instead of real grass. Carles Puyol began the practice with the team, but was taken indoors with a back problem. The official site says the injury “doesn’t look like a serious problem, and he [Puyol] was able to continue working out in the dressing rooms.”
-During the same practice, Thierry Henry did not take part because of a left Achilles problem. It should be noted here that it sounds somewhat minor, but if it is a recurring problem, it might be why he isn’t playing many minutes these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s “available” for matches in that he could play a few minutes, but isn’t able to play a full 90. This has, of course, led to rampant speculation that Henry is done at Barça after this season and that Pep Guardiola has it out for the Frenchman. Whatever, only time will tell.
-Both Dani Alves and Lionel Messi trained regularly with the squad after working exclusively indoors yesterday. Seydou Keita and Eric Abidal were both still absent through injury. I don’t expect the latter two to play during the Valencia match, but hopefully Keita is fit for the Stuttgart return leg and can come on as a sub.
–Sport has video of Guardiola’s supposed infractions during the Almería match that show that referee Clos Gomez was almost entirely wrong in his statements concerning Guardiola’s actions. Because of Pep’s proximity to the assistant ref, one can make out his exact words thanks to the microphone that the assistant ref uses to communicate with the referee. He says, basically: “You can see the play exactly, he [Messi] was pushed!” and while he’s gesticulating at the ref, he keeps his hands down and his voice fairly mild while speaking directly to the assistant ref. We’ll see later today how RFEF rules on both that and Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s fantasy red card.
-Read my thoughts on the tiebreaker scenarios that are possible in La Liga and why I think they’re terrible. Then read the comments because, as usual, there are intelligent thoughts on both sides of the argument that are worth considering. I stand by my original argument, which is that multiple league-wide factors should be considered before moving on to head-to-head.
-The Yahoo! Fantasy results are in for this week. Yippee. Hat Trick remains in first with 1,352.50pts, meaning s/he has a 32.50pt lead over 2nd place Mes Que Un Club. For those of you who care how I’m doing, I had a good week, ending with 69.50pts, which jumped me to 14th, just 5 points behind Bashir, who I’ve been chasing for a good while now. Remember to make any changes by Saturday to get your team ready for the weekend.
-In the Table Prediction Game (here), Lovelymofo (42pts) continues to dominate. Thanks to Xerez’s unlikely win at Malaga and, stupidly enough, Malaga’s unlikely loss at Xerez, I’ve fallen all the way to 8th place (25pts). In case you missed it, here are what the point values mean. Children laugh at me.
<0 Oh soccer, not football…
0-9 You have the intelligence of a beef Weligton.
10-19 I hope you used a hat to pick…
20-29 Children laugh at you.
30-39 At least you don’t do this for a living…
40-49 Not too shabby.
50-59 You clearly enjoy spending some Sundays in front of GolTV
60-69 You clearly enjoy too many Sundays in front of GolTV
70-79 You eat, sleep, and breath La Liga
80-89 Yaya lent you some powers for a day.
90-99 Pep asks you for advice.
100 You sold your soul to the devil. It was worth it.