Liga Liveblog: Mallorca – Barça

Launching a few minutes before kickoff, it’s the liveblog! Oh my!

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.

139 comments

  1. I’m going to call:

    Valdes
    Alves – Pique – Puyol – Maxwell
    Xavi – Yaya – Iniesta
    Messi – Ibra – Pedro!

    Pique and Xavi to come off for Keita and Milito. P! to start because Pep wants Henry to start vs Arsenal. We concede because Gabi + Puyi never works.

    Boom.

    1. I second that!!!!!

      But just for the sake of diversity I will add this lineup.

      ——–Valdes aka Manwall
      Alves – Pique – Milito – Maxwell
      Xavi – Yaya – Keita
      Messi – Henry – Iniesta

    2. I think we’ll definitely see Keita against Mallorca. We will need his box to box qualities in this one. So I think it will be Yaya/Keita/Xavi in the midfield and Iniesta/Ibra/Messi up front.

  2. Ooh, an Almunia howler gives Birmigham the equilizer at the death.

    Sad for Arsenal in regards to the EPL, but it’s good for us right? Their keeper’s confidence is shot…

  3. According to Sport, Barça’s lineup is: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Milito, Maxwell, Keita, Toure, Iniesta, Pedro, Ibrahimovic and Jeffren.

    EWWW!! No Xavi, No Pique? Means terrible buildup play. I can see Messi coming off the bench and doing damage, but I hope we take care of business without him on the pitch.

    1. Gah! Beat me to it.

      I’m slightly nervous now…Hopefully this means that you’re the optimist now 😀

  4. Pep defies all:

    Valdes
    Alves, Puyol, Milito, Maxwell
    Keita, Toure, Iniesta,
    Pedro, Ibrahimovic and Jeffren.

    No Messi, Xavi, Pique. Gabi + Puyi and FF and P! with Ibra!?

    Two words: Holy sh#t!

  5. Holy f***ing shit! Today will be the day on which we will potentially lose la Liga 🙁

    1. Whoa, I think we may lose this game, but La Liga?!

      You’re worse than Jnice, Helge! 😀

  6. that line up isn’t on the official site yet. i refuse to believe it. i’m having a drink w/jim.

  7. Have some faith guys, jeffren is proper winger, full of energy.Besides if things go badly we have game changers on the bench.

    1. seriously. but why experiment like this while playing the 4th best team in the league? those six cups are getting to guardiola’s head…or maybe some shit happened behind the scenes only he knows about. who knows? who cares?

      i want to see xavi & messi god damnit! & give chignasty a run out.

    2. We have Arsenal midweek, so I’m guessing that he wants a fresh Messi, Xavi, and Pique against them 😀

      Still, if he is going to rest players, I would have liked to see Bojan 🙁 . Although, FF has been patient and this will do his confidence some good…

  8. Line up is CONFIRMED! It’s on the official site!
    All I can say is:

    HOLY WTF SH*T!

    This bettah work!!

  9. Well, there are reasons to be optimistic…

    1) Pep’s confidence in FF and his ability to play with P! could mean we’re in for a inspired performance by FF and P!

    2) Arsenal are so screwed.

    3) Considering who we have on the bench, we can only improve

    4) Arsenal are so screwed.

  10. Picking Jefferson over Bojan and playing Puyi+Milito are two things that fucking suck.

  11. Interesting line up. Maybe it will work for good with hungry kids. Messi did need bit of rest so i can understand it. I think we will see Messi and Xavi enter at half time.

  12. Jeffren is a pure winger, he would give us good speed and width. He should be able to help Ibra. I think the key to this match will be Alves’ crosses. He has to cross to in the box a lot, with Keiteee crashing in a lot too.

    Iniesta better play the match of the season…

    1. I want to see some midfield domination damnit!

      ..though I guess that’s why Yaya is playing huh? XD

      I agree with the Alves factor, and Final Fantasy’s pace is going to be key. I just hope that Milito and Puyi have sorted out how to play together and we won’t see a repeat of Osasuna…

  13. ManUtd also won, so Arsenal can say goodbye to the EPL title.

    By the by, do you really think Pep rates la Liga higher than the CL this season? If you consider this line-up and the one that will possibly play @ the Emirates, I doubt it… and I could understand it. If the EE gets la Liga, the UCL win in the Bernabéu and being the first to retain the title would definitely make up for it 🙂

  14. I’m kind of worried about Iniesta being injured. Is there any word on whether it’s serious?

    I thought Jeffren was actually pretty good. His pace gave Mallorca loads of trouble.

    It was a gamble of a starting line-up, but it paid off I suppose. Now Xavi and Messi should be ready for Arsenal on Wednesday.

    What I’m not clear on is why Pique and Henry didn’t even make the bench. Hopefully there were no last minute injuries…

    1. It means that they’re starting against Arsenal.

      Pique had a knee complaint that he has since recovered from. He’s been given more time to train/relax. Henry can’t play two matches in a row, so was left in Catalunia to get his priorities straight and harden his heart.

  15. Arsene Wenger says Cesc might be injured for the Wednesday match; admits that they kept him on too long versus Birmingham after he complained of pain.

    1. Yeah I completely didn’t get that. I think clearly Fab was insisting on staying in, and I’d say that by the end it looked like he might really be okay, but I suppose he was wrong. I suppose the staff should know better and insist even harder on pulling him, but why would he do such a thing? If it takes him out of the game than I would be really surprised. He should know better.

  16. Andres looked pretty injured to me. Did he say “me he roto”??? I could swear he said that to pep.If so i doubt he’ll play against the gunners 🙁

  17. Three points, Xavi, Messi, Pique rested, Dani’s yellow ( 😀 ), Gabi + Puyi not conceding, Ibra scores…All I can say is : Pep OWNED that sh#t.

    Only downside is Andres. I hope it’s not too serious 🙁 .

    Attack of the Trollers: Episode II is coming soon. Try to ignore them, folks. Although with that last minutes equalizer scored by B’ham, they’ll have something stuck up their butts…

    1. Sadly its true about trollers. Hope we do get some intelligent ones as well.

      Today was a tough win but for me, wins like these make us genuine contenders for all trophies we go for. With Messi and Xavi in side, we are altogether a different beast:). Looking forward to mid week.

    2. Alright, let’s get ready:

      1) No replying to trolls, only Arsenal fans with something constructive to say

      2) No egging them on

      3) Generally, be welcoming

      That sound like a good plan?

    3. Totally agree with point one, don’t feed the trolls. The rest seems to come natural to most posters here.

  18. So both Pique and Puyol are on yellows and 1 booking will mean they are out of the second leg.Do we start both of them, or do we start Gabi and Pique.Id hate to have both suspended and have to rely on a Gabi-Rafa partnership in the second leg.Perhaps its too much of a risk to play Gabi 3 games in 7 days though.

    1. I think Gabi is now back at full strength for 2 months so he should be fine. Marquez does give me jitters so i hope we can do with Puyi – Gabi and Pique combo in central defence for coming period.

    2. Just looked it up, btw, and thankfully, we have no players with 4 yellow cards (that is, a card away) for the Athletic Bilbao match next week.

      So, barring any red cards, we should have everyone available for El Clasico (2 weeks away!).

  19. Sport says it’s not a serious injury for Don Andrés. But the English sports papers say that Cesc’s injury isn’t serious either. I think we’ll see both of them on Wednesday.

    1. *lets out a huge sigh of relief*

      That’s good news! If Fabregas plays, I have no qualms. He has to play in front of his own fans…he’ll find it quite difficult at the Camp Nou. After all, he’s never played there… 😀

  20. As long as we man mark cesc and arshavin we should be fine. Bentner does not scare me and RVP is still out. I say we win 2-1 in London.

  21. Who was everyone’s man of the match?

    I’d go with Valdes followed by Ibra and Milito

    1. Valdes hands down. it could easily be 1-1.
      Milito is working his way back to the best lineup for us. hard to choose between our best 3 Pique Puyol and Milito for me now.

  22. for me, Milito and Valdes. Rest weren’t great although Puyol always gives it his best.

  23. Gaby Milito hasn’t been called up by Maradumba yet, right?

    Milito and Samuel, that should be a great pair of CBs. Hope Milito gets his call, I think Pep already adviced Maradumba to trust in Milito.

  24. Boy, lots of pessimism early in this thread, eh? Believe in your club. I tapped for at worst a draw becauae I thought that Mallorca would come out to play more. Had I known, the 1-0 would have been easy to predict.

    Yet another match in which our lazy, always offside, good for nothing Swede scores the winner. How :bout that?

    Jeffren instead of Krkic made perfect sense, by the by. Guardiola knew that Mallorca were going to be physical, whoch means we needed a man out there, not a boy. The Messi sub was also strategic, since it was the big threat that kept Mallorca on their heels.

    T:was pretty clear to me that we were playing with our eyes on midweek. Xavi came in to get aome matxh under his belt before Arsenal. Ditto for Messi.

    1. That soft keyboard must be a pain, musn’t it?

      If that first-half showing against Osasuna was something to go by, the negativity wasn’t out of place.. The lineup gelled pretty well, and looked much more assured.. Got saved by Yaya’s awesomeness twice(you know, when he used his mind to keep the ball from going into the net twice), and VV was there to mop up the rest..

      Gotta give it to Gabi though, an awesome winter signing if you please.. Marshaling the defense with consummate ease..

      Loved the fact that Xavi, Messi and Iniesta were all given runouts before the QFs.. Hopefully we may see the trio setting the stage alight at the Emirates..

      3/3 for Ibra, getting back to form at the right time..

      And how many times have we settled the game in the 2nd half? Seems as if we love to wear the opposition down..

    2. En contraire to last season, where we’ve overrun most of our opponents and then played the second half at only ~ 50%
      But as long as we win in the end, I’ll take both ways 🙂

    3. Might I mention that Yaya should always play in his natural position? I believe several people during summer transfer season were speculating that Yaya could play in a more attacking role if Mascherano had come, and now it’s happened with Busi behind him, and I hate it. Only as the DM between the center halves is the Yaya The Yaya.

    4. “Jeffren instead of Krkic made perfect sense, by the by. Guardiola knew that Mallorca were going to be physical, which means we needed a man out there, not a boy.”

      I’m sure it had nothing to do with tactical priorities, such as the fact that Jeffren is a pacy out and out winger, while Bojan is more of a converted striker on the wing.

      Guess which of the two traditionally gives Mallorca trouble? The out-and-out winger.

    5. I agree that it’s a bit harsh to say that Bojan is a boy IF Jeffren is a man, but I didn’t interpret Jeffren’s role as that of a winger today. Quite deep wasn’t he?

    6. i never had a doubt in this lineup. jeffren has proven to be a good winger for us. i particularly remember his showing in the club world cup. much confidence in him. plus, the way we played in the first half has shown that pep got the lineup correct.

    7. hindsight is 20/20. whatever. i reserve the right to be pessimistic as shit. anybody who says they had full faith in this line up is bullshitting themselves.

  25. Some Thongboy comic relief

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK3-LZltCww&feature=player_embedded

    1. Agreed.

      That said, admins, it’s starting to take quite awhile to load posts sometimes and I have a hunch the rating function has something to do with it. Not to be critical.

  26. God Pedro looks really good with the ball at his feet, as well as having a hell of a shot. Dare I say that he reminds me of messi when he was breaking through to the first team. It makes me really start to wonder if we need to spend money on a LW this summer. I still think that if we can get Ribery, Silva, Suarez or Villa we have to pull the trigger. That gives Pedro and CT one or 2 more years to continue on their path. Both of those guys can act as super subs and feature in CDR matches as well. As a club we are in a good position fiscally, so we can spend if we want. I think we need to keep Yaya and kieta as well. As for all of the Cesc drama, I say we waait 2-3 years till Xavi’s career starts winding dowm, then bring Cesc in to rotate with Andres and Xavi to re learn how to play on the bet team in the world. The great thing is, he will still only be 25 or so and probably cost less than if we were to buy him this summer.

    here is my top 5 players on each line that we need next season.

    FORWARDS: Messi, Pedro, Ibra, Bojan and one of the four Ribery, Silva, Suarez or Villa. (I brefer Villa, Ribery or Suarez.

    Midfield: Xavi, Inestia, Busquets, Yaya, Kieta.

    Defense Pyuol, Milito, Pique, Abidal, Alves. We also have maxwell to cover LB and Chiggy to cover CB, but I think we need to pick up a big time right back who can get forward whenever we need im to. As we saw when Alves was out, we were a bit out of sorts with El Captain on the right.

    1. Anyone figured out why we’ve brought over Txigi? He’s had, what, five appearances? Six?

  27. I feel like an ignorant American for asking, but could someone explain to me why Cruyff being appointed an honorary president is causing so much drama among cules?

    Is it because most people see it as an election ploy (which it most likely is)? Or are there deeper reasons?

    1. I think it is jus an election thingy, but again Im jus being an ignorant bastard here.
      As far as I hav’ collected infos’ so far ( of course medias- they have called it anti-laporta) Laporta dint consult the socios’, and its his/ board of directors decision only.
      Conspiracy theory????

  28. *http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-why-we-won-t-man-mark-barca

    Uh, does this mean he WILL employ man-making?

    1. Hey Kari, in Champions league most of the teams play zonal defense. It does make sense to close people like Xavi and Iniesta quickly and not give them much space to weave their magic, but, otherwise I do not any team in the last 8 to be doing a man marking job.

  29. Can anyone remember (of have a video) of when Madrid were celebrating (2 or 3 seasons ago) and play restarted resulting in a goal? For example who they were playing against.

    1. It was against Getafe.

      *http://www.soccerblog.com/2008/02/videogetafe_scores_while_real.htm

  30. The examination of Iniesta’s injury is finished and it says it’s unlikely that he’ll play against Arsenal 🙁

    So, what midfield do you prefer? I vote for Busquets, Xavi, Yaya.

    1. 🙁

      I guess it’ll be Xavi-Busi-Keita…though I would like to see Xavi-Yaya-Keita for this one…

  31. Iniesta out for 10 days…

    *http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/noticies/futbol/temporada09-10/03/28/n100328110117.html

    1. Damn, i knew it was serious just from the look on his face and what he said to pep.This summer we have to put him on what ever program Messi is on

    2. Ten days is not serious.

      I agree with the selection of Keita in the lineup, then it’s only a matter of playing Yaya or Busi. Busi was rested, so I’m fairly sure it will be him.

  32. A bit off topic but the Guardian has a really interesting article on La Liga by Sid Lowe.

    “Domination by Barcelona and Real Madrid making Spain the new Scotland”

    /http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/mar/28/barcelona-real-madrid-spain

    1. Pretty nice read, I like reading about the financial aspects of football.. It says that we have a debt of 350 mil euros – Can anyone confirm this, I know we some amongst us who have inside info about the financial health of FCB 😀 ..

      The new Scotland part is a bit over the top.. You can say that its a bit dull in La Liga, but I think it was the same in the EPL a few years ago, till the Russian oligarch made Chelsea competitive.. Yes Liverpool made things competitive a bit, always to fall at some or the other hurdle.. Still the league was essentially a two-horse race between two of the Big Four, until this season where there are three, which is because Utd and Chelsea have consistently dropped points to weaker teams (It can be argued that they have slipped a few notches rather than the league improving)..

      Despite claims of an exciting title-race, there is hardly any excitement if you were to actually see the matches. Lack of technical skill and the sheer physicality (ask Arsene) of the play makes me cringe to even watch it..

      Clubs in the EPL are also reeling under the same economic pressure in Spain.. It is only because of the existence of sugar daddies that more and more ‘smaller’ clubs have greater spending capacity the ‘socialist’ TV deals also have a say.. Debts at the Big Three are burgeoning and teams are facing the same competition dilemma that Sid Lowe describes.. A good example would be Arsenal investing in youth and not expensive signings.. Arshavin would be an exception – But even he has said what we already know, Arsenal cannot win title with the present squad that they have..

      Still I’d hate to see us and EE rolling over other clubs like we have done till now, this season is more bland as compared to other seasons when we’d thank our Gods for escaping with a point in some away games..Also,

      /end rant – My first here perhaps..

  33. Feel so sorry for Iniesta. Again he is out during an important time of the season.

    In the context of the overall team, I don’t know if that is such a bad thing, because I feel like Pep would find someway to put Keita in there anyway.

  34. He’s a vital part of our keep ball play and we’re up against another team that keeps the ball well. Just hope he makes it back for the second leg against them. None of the other options are as good as him at keeping the ball under pressure. Makes it easier for Arsenal to cope with Xavi as well.

  35. Regardless of what happens this year, it’s clear that we NEED to get a bigger squad next year and use more rotation. Players have been dropping like flies because they are playing too much.

    1. There really haven’t been that many injuries compared to what for example RM or Sevilla have had to deal with. Look at Sevilla who are right now losing 2-0 to Villareal while playing without 3 key midfielders (Perotti, Navas and Zokora).

      I agree that we’ll maybe need another forward option for next year if Henry leaves (Kerrison maybe?) and maybe a right back, but really our current squad is pretty darn good. Pedro, Bojan and Jeffren are all improving, and next year Thiago and Dos Santos will be ready for more playing time. Plus there’s more to come from Chygrynski and Fontas, Muniesa and Botia are all waiting for their chance. I’m optimistic.

    2. Fair enough. Maybe I should say that the squad members should get more play. Of those names you mentioned, how many of them played more than 5 matches?

    3. I guess my point was that we have a lot of “work in progress” squad players or youth products and can expect to see some of these guys play more important roles next season.

      They’ll all get their chance in pre-season to show that they are worthy of playing time. Last summer Pedro was really impressive, after having spent most of the previous season with Barca B. The year before it was Busi who was ready to make the jump. I’m excited to find out who might be next.

  36. I’m no Hector, but the Iniesta injury is also kind of a nuisance from a tactical point of view. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see us line-up in the almost 4-2-1-3 that we have been seeing a little lately (although, this is more likely for the home leg). In that formation, we play Busi, Yay/Keita, then Messi behind Iniesta, Zlatan, and Pedro. (Kind of like we did yesterday when Messi came on, except that Jeffren was in Iniesta’s position. We also played something similar to this against Osasuna.)

    The reason why I think Iniesta’s injury makes it harder to use this line-up is because with Iniesta on the pitch, we still had three “midfielders”, even if Iniesta was playing farther up and closer to the touchline. It helped us maintain ball control, etc. But without Iniesta, that formation is a lot weaker defensively/possession wise (not what we want against arsenal).

  37. I mean, I’m obviously disappointed and pissed Iniesta won’t be able to play, but I would feel a whole lot worse if Keita was still out. Don’t forget this is an away game and Keita’s box to box presence will be a plus. He obviously won’t keep the ball as well as Andres, but on the defensive side of things, we will be better off. He is also a threat from set pieces and can defend them as well. So all is not lost without Andres.

    1. I don’t dare hope after what they pulled in this same fixture last year. It’s Patheico after all, they’ll find a way to screw it up.

    2. Maybe they are screwing up at screwing up.. I’m sure they’ll screw up this as well..

    3. HT and they haven’t screw up yet. They’ve been reduced to 10 men as the ultimate screw-up has come on in Luis Perea.

      TB screwed up the last chance of the half by pulling his diving header wide with the keeper beat.

      Please don’t screw up in screwing up, Pathetico!

    4. I thought the same when Valero had to be substituted. And Perea doesn’t disappoint us, he’s getting a yellow card after 3 min. in the game …

    5. Honestly from what i have seen, EE’s defending is enough to make me believe we can get atleast a draw there.

  38. Wow, Ronaldo’s such a strong player in the air, he’s soooo much better with respect to headers then Messi, did you see his brilliant diving header?
    Oh wait… he missed the target 😀

    All joking aside, I also still think that RM will win this. But at least Atletico gave them a fight for one half (so far).

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