A Few Quick Thoughts

Kevin has written a review of the Athletic match which, if you haven’t read it, should be your first stop. Besides joy at watching Banjo Crickets get his two goals and our team continuing to look like a brilliant machine of goal-making beauty, there was the obvious “Oh shit” of hearing that both Ibra and Pique could be out for the clásico next Saturday. I’ll cover much more of that in tomorrow’s Arsenal second leg preview, but suffice to say that I’m arching eyebrows in concern.

I’m here, though, not to discuss negative outlooks on the coming matches, but rather to give some updates about various topics. Check ’em out after the jump.

I had a good week in Yahoo! Fantasy, I think, with David Villa netting two late goals to shoot me up the rankings to 11th. Mwahaha, eat it, ByeByeHleb! Mes Que Un Club jumped to the top with a solid week and it really does look like a two horse race between MQUC and FC Bojmir, who have almost a 200 point lead over 3rd place and more than 300 on me. Bah humbug.

The Table Position League is updated after 3 weeks of laziness. Kevin O is back in front with 38 points. Congrats on what is an ever-changing field, but hopefully someone (anyone? please?) can get into the 50+ range. I’m sure someone can do it! I’m currently in — well let’s not talk about what place I’m in. Instead, let’s talk about Pythagorean Expectation in soccer. This may get a little nerdy, but strap your thinking caps and let’s go for a quick ride.

We’ve discussed Pythagorean Expectation in the past, but if you need a reminder on what has gone on, I’m using 1.36 as my exponent (thanks to good work by reader Jose) and I’m looking at both expected and expected plus actual results–that is, I’m predicting both the overall expected points return, then also calculating the actual plus the expected for the remaining matches. The thing is, four years ago D at the DCenters wrote a post disputing the value of Pythagorean Expectation in football/soccer. I recreated the same R2 evaluation and found that for Pythag (GF1.36/(GF1.36+GA1.36), R2 = 0.9234 and for GF/(GF+GA), R2 = 0.9318. So you can see that simply removing the exponents is a better predictor than using Pythag.

For those of you still awake: the same is true when you take the compiled information from the last 10 years. What I did was took the place, rather than the team, so champions were all added together (sorry for you Barça-not-being-mixed-with-Real-Madrid purists) and so on down to twentieth place because teams change thanks to this whole relegation and promotion thing you may have heard of. The R2 for 1.36 was a paltry 0.9318 while for no exponent it was 0.9938.

I’m going to continue to check out Pythagorean Expectation and fiddle with various things and we’ll definitely discuss this topic further in the future. I’m new to this whole thing still, so I’m learning a lot about it every time I play around with it, which is what keeps drawing me back in.

Finally, I’ll be updating the Where to Watch page soon with some new information. Thank you to everyone who has sent in various places and I apologize for the delay in getting things up. I’ll also be updating the Schedule page with links to the various Previews and Reviews.

By Isaiah

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.


  1. Piece of cake ! 😀

    Not really , you lost me here 😕

    Can’t contribute to this post, but let me just say i hope we crush arsenal.One week on and Im still pissed that we gave them belief that they can upset us.

  2. villa just can’t and won’t stop scoring!!
    btw, how come sometimes bojan is called ct(cuddly toy) and sometimes
    banjo crickets? why 2 names for one cute lil boy? and what does banjo crickets actually stand for? confused man here.. 🙂

    1. Kevin calls him Cuddly Toy. To my knowledge I have never referred to him as such. I call him various things, including Banjo Crickets and Bojangles. There’s no real reason other than that his name is close to those things. I also occasionally call Busquets Biscuits for the same reason.

    2. I believe in consistency… How about a vote on player nicknames? Then whenever a new name is proposed, we can put that to the polls to challenge the existing name 🙂

      Plus, it’s sad to see how some players have been sorta neglected in the alias generation process (eg. Keita (although once could argue Puyol’s ‘Keiteeeee’ calling works*), Milito, Maxwell, Jeffren, Alves, Marquez)


    3. Jeffren = Final Fantasy (FF)
      Marquez = El Kaiser (not so much lately)
      Keita = Keiteeee (as you mentioned)
      Milito = El Mariscal (The Marshall)
      Alves = His nickname wouldn’t be able to keep up

      So, I guess Maxwell and, you can argue, Milito don’t have one. For Maxwell, I think of Maxwell House (you know, the coffee brand)

    4. Banjo Crickets came from one of Andrew M’s friends, who is dyslexic, or something like that. I think Bojan is equal to the image of a horde of cheerful crickets on a hoe-down.

  3. Ibra’s injury may actually be a blessing in disguise against arsenal. Bojan’s main flaw is that he’s out muscled in and around the box but Arsenal would not play in that manner. Secondly I think he’ll wreak havoc with his pace too.. just hope Iniesta is fit to play this game though!

    1. It doesn’t matter. In addition to Fabregas, Arshavin, and Gallas going out in the first leg, Song was injured over the weekend (and could be out for a while), and so the backline will be Vermaelen and Campbell. Or Vermaelen and Sylvestre. In any case, it looks good for Messi.

  4. Why can’t we play Chygrynskiy if he only played in the qualifying rounds? I thought that if someone had played in the qualifying for one team and transferred to another team, the player would not be allowed to play in the Group stage, but would be allowed to play in the knockout rounds.

    1. I thought the same thing earlier in the year, but it turns out it’s for the whole season. How stupid is that?

  5. I just realized I made a small mistake in writing out the formula. It’s GS^1.36/(GS^1.36 + GA^1.36). I had forgotten the / meaning you would multiply instead of divide, which of course doesn’t work.

  6. Holy crap! Alex Song’s been ruled out!

    You know what that means… 😀

    Arsenal are so screwed. 35-year old Sol-freaking-Campbell is playing against us, after just playing 2 (3 on game day) days ago.

    1. I don’t feel sorry for them at all. We don’t have Ibra, Iniesta, Puyol, Pique, and maybe no Yaya. We have our own worries. And two of their injuries were due to their medic’s incompetence and Wenger’s lack of trust in other players, starting Gallas and Fabregas when they clearly were not fit.

    2. Not to mention Arshavin injured himself in that studs-up tackle against Busi that earned him a yellow. Karma, I say.

  7. Just wanted to share that Nasri means “shit” (imperative) in Russian. So when I was watching the first leg, the commentator said “Nasri to Fabregas”, which translates into Russian as “shit on Fabregas”. Didn’t think he noticed that himself. 😀

    1. Ha! He certainly won’t be ‘sh*t’ against us, that’s for sure! 😛

      Do you speak Russian, Nick?

    2. Awesome. I guess if CSKA upset Inter, we have someone who can translate any Russian news.

      If we get pass Arsenal of course.

    3. Are you sure about that? I’ve been around Russian speakers all my life, speak and understand it fairly well, but I have never heard that before. I’m not an expert, though, so you might be right, I was just a little surprised to read that.
      Maybe in some other language?

    4. Oh, if you’re a native speaker, then you should know better than me. 🙂 Just asked a friend about it, and she said the same.
      Wow, every day you get to learn something new.

  8. Just started a most excellent book, called “Soccernomics.” Get it. Read it. It’s brilliant. The contention is that almost everything in our beautiful game can be explained through statistics, up to and including why England doesn’t win World Cups, even though they think that they should …. all the time. Fascinating.

    Also, somebody please remind me, the next time cantankerous Gunners fans start getting on us about highly-paid talent, and how the game is English, etc, that Arsenal has NO English players in their first-choice starting XI. That was another interesting point made in this book, that the problem with English football isn’t that there aren’t enough Englishmen, but that there are too many. Knockout tome, kids.

    Regarding tomorrow’s match, as long as we don’t get complacent, we’re through. The way we are playing as a collective, I just don’t see anything else happening, even if both sides were at full strength. We won’t have any brain farts at home, and will be able to take a more measured approach to the match, since we are ahead on away goals.

    And no Pique for El Clasic, should that happen, doesn’t bother me. I have full confidence in an Alves/Puyol/Milito/Abidal back line. It’s looking like Iniesta will be back for that match, which makes me very happy. We shouldn’t need him for Arsenal.

    1. I have to admit, yesterday I was a little worried when the injuries started pouring in, but the more I thought about it, and with what you said above, I’m feeling pretty good.

      There’s no way we lose this match, at worse we tie, and that’s just not going to happen. Plus they will be out 4 players of the starting 11 they put out against us at home. I re-watched a 20 minute recap of the first leg and it’s really apparent to me the only thing we did wrong was give walcott too much space (which mainly be due in part to maxwell’s inconsistent defending), but abidal is going to have that sh*t on lockdown. the red card, I don’t know if that’s really our fault, or anyone’s fault. that’s just one of those freak plays that changes games in a moment. so yeah, the last 20 minutes we looked a little haggard and tired, but they didn’t OUTPLAY us by any means. we should be fine.

      for the record, what kind of scorelines do we need to see to get us through? champions league away goal rules perplex me : /

    2. Arsenal win (by any score) = they’re through

      Barca win (by any score) = we’re through

      2-2 draw = extra time + penalties (if need be)

      0-0 or 1-1 draw = we’re through

      3-3 or a bigger draw = arsenal through

    3. funny thing that.

      in the build up to the emirates leg a lot of the press talked of ibra never having scored against an english team etc.

      after the game, some of the comments in the guardian blogs were about how arsenal weren’t an english team anyway, and that barca would never have managed against a real english team.

      i guess they mean stoke or villa or something.

    4. I’d love to see their reaction if you guys win the EPL. Will it be because the Premier League isn’t strong enough, or United and Chelsea bottled it?

      Hope Arsenal win the league and I’ll find out 😀

    5. Seeing as I loaned my copy to my dad I can’t give you any specific examples, but a lot of soccernomics involves very questionable statistical assumptions. To be fair, they own up to these assumptions, but don’t really explore how significantly they affect the results.

  9. Isaiah, will you or any others be at the Woodwork Tuesday afternoon for the Arsenal match? I plan on being there.

    1. Yes. We will be there. I will be wearing my blaugrana shirt, glasses, and my FCB hat. And maybe a scarf. I’ll be at a table of blaugrana-wearing fools.

  10. Hey guys sport.es is reporting that The Spanish Football Association (SFA) has decided to call a strike for week 33 in La Liga which would reportedly postpone our away derby match against Espanyol. They say an official statement would be announced later today.

  11. According to Sport, Iniesta has received the medical green light and has been included in the 19 man squad named to face Arsenal.

    Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Márquez, Milito, Fontàs, Abidal, Maxwell, Touré, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Jonathan, Keita, Jeffren, Bojan, Pedro, Henry, and Messi.

    1. That’s awesome. Don’t expect him to start, but maybe we’ll see him in the second half? For ball retaining purposes.

  12. Interesting point made by a commenter on the Guardian blogs, but I don’t really agree:

    “Arsenal are missing 5. Cesc, Gallas, Arshavin, RVP, Song. Barcelona are missing 5. Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, Yaya, Pique, Puyol. Barcelona’s 5 are much, much, much better than Arsenal’s 5. The injuries favor Arsenal, not Barcelona.”

    I guess you could take Iniesta out of there since he’s been given the green light, though I doubt Pep will risk him.

    1. Are any of our 5 as influential as Cesc? I don’t know. Maybe Puyol. The others, not as influential, though probably as talented. The loss of Cesc is massive and I think it means we’ll go through.

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