This is the second installment of the series: BFB Interviews (the first was here). It is designed to broaden the horizons not only of this blogger (who needs it), but also of the blog as a whole by asking intelligent and qualified bloggers and thinkers from around the Internet to answer uneducated questions.
Before our Jornada 26 matchup with Valencia, I’ve asked fellow blogger Cesar to answer a few questions. Check out his blog over at The Offside.
Barcelona Football Blog: Thanks for doing this little interview, Cesar.
Anyway, let’s get this party on the road, shall we? Before the season began, there were lots of questions about the state of Valencia’s finances. Have most or all of those concerns been figured out? Pushed under the rug? Ignored like a giant gorilla in the room?
Cesar Benoit: Thanks, Isaiah … I’d say the money situation has been pushed under the rug, It’s something none of us VCF fans want to discuss or worry about. But we know it’s there. There’s a stadium we’re trying to get finished, creditors to satisfy and players to pay. The fans have been amazingly patient with the board, led by President Manuel Llorente and his assembled team. They’re trying to turn around the mind-bogglingly bad work of former chairman Juan Soler. It won’t be easy. The summer looms and the drama will begin again, with questions over David Villa and David Silva’s futures at the Mestalla sure to pop up again.
BFB: Valencia is currently third in the league, battling for that spot with Mallorca, Sevilla, Depor, and to some extent Athletic Bilbao. In my season preview, I predicted that Valencia would finish 5th mainly because of their defense. You recently wrote that the team is underachieving despite having world class players throughout the front line and midfield. While I was incorrect in putting Atleti and Sevilla above Valencia, do you agree that it’s the defense that’s causing this under-achievement?
CB: 5th? Boo hiss … I think the board worked hard to shore up the defense this offseason. Raul Albiol was sold to Real Madrid and while many VCF fans thought that was a bad move, the additional money and the defensive work of players like David Navarro, Bruno and Angel Dealbert has been more than adequate.
Sure, I’d love to relive the days when VCF was known for having a rock-solid, all-world defense. Sadly, those days are past. When players like Carlos Marchena are roving your backline, you know you’re in trouble.
So why are we under-achieveing? I think it’s an over reliance on players like Ruben Baraja and David Albelda, guys that are ‘over the hill.’ And some of it has to fall on coach Unai Emery, who makes confusing coaching decisions at times. We’re such a good club. We have world class players at striker, at winger and in defensive midfield. I really feel we should be challenging for the title and I’m disappointed we’re not in the mix.
BFB: With Ibrahimovic missing from the field and Guardiola missing from the sideline (barring some backtracking by RFEF), do you consider Valencia favorites or underdogs coming into this match?
CB: I’d love to say we’re favorites. But this is Barcelona and this is the Camp Nou. So yes … ha!
BFB:Will Valencia alter any of its usual tactics? If so, how? If not, what ARE the usual tactics?
CB: Miguel and Marchena will be back barring injury. Not sure how good of a thing that is. Ever Banega has been a bit of a revelation for us and he should be back.
David Albelda is injured as is defender Bruno, who’s been hot and cold.
I’ve never been a big tactics guy. I think we’ll play counter attack, try to run down the wings, try to be creative in the midfield and try to get the ball to our world class striker David Villa. I think we’ll defend like crazy. I think a lot of things, eh? Primarily, I think we’ll play cautiously and wait to break on the counter.
BFB: Are you excited about Tron Legacy?
CB: Yes! Just saw the trailer. Can’t pass up a movie with the Dude, Jeff Bridges. Although I didn’t see the first one. When we getting together to watch that?
BFB: We should do that soon. Loser of the coming match brings the beer? Do you think Valencia put in a somewhat shaky home performance against Racing because they were looking ahead to the match with Barça or some other factor?
CB: Well, I’d love to use that as an excuse. It’s a tough week with our match Thursday against Werder Bremen in the Europa League followed by the Barça match. More than anything, the team looked tired.
BFB: What are the injury/absence concerns for Valencia? Are any of them irreplaceable?
CB: If Ever Banega was out, I’d be more worried. Or Villa, Silva, Pablo, etc.
Albelda is replaceable. So is Bruno. We should be ok.
The defense is somewhat shaky with Bruno and Jeremy Mathieu out. But we’ll have to do with Dealbert, Marchena, who is a walking red card and Miguel.
BFB: If called upon by your club president–Manuel Llorente–would you polish his bald head for him? How’s he doing as the president?
BFB: I’d polish his head and massage his hairy back if asked.
I think he’s doing a phenomenal job given what he inherited. A massive debt, a struggling club. He’s done a great job of staying in the background and doing his job to move this club forward. It’s not easy.
BFB: Who do you feel is going to be Barça’s most dangerous player against you this weekend? And for the record, Lionel Messi’s a cop-out answer.
CB: Ha … then it has to be Iniesta. Luckily the match is at night so the sunlight won’t reflect off his skin. Honestly, the guy’s just about the best player in the Spanish league. I love watching him play. He’s dangerous.
BFB: If FC Barcelona::Real Madrid as Good::Evil, then FC Barcelona::Valencia as ??::??
CB: For your American fans, I’d say Barca is New York and Valencia is New Jersey. For everyone else, I’ll say it’s more a David and Goliath thing.
BFB: And finally, what’s your score prediction?
CB: I shouldn’t do this, but I am. We’re gonna shock the world!! 3-2. David always beats Goliath! AMUNT!!!
Thanks again to Cesar. Remember to check out his blog.