How to Fight Lilliputians: Espanyol – Barça

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Liga Preview: Espanyol – Barça, Saturday 2pmEST GolTV

(If you didn’t listen to the podcast I did about el clásico on Wednesday, check it out here)

I don’t know what it is about them, but the pericos get under my skin. Maybe it’s that their main goal in life is to throw a wrench in the works of the cule machinery; maybe it’s because they’re boundlessly unlovable in the way a small club can be when they carry a chip on their shoulder at all times; maybe it’s because their president is an unadulterated jackass. I don’t really know. They are, to me, deserving of an absolute ass-kicking at our hands for the next 30 years thanks to the 18 seconds of madness a few years ago which I will not link to and I hope that we show them tomorrow how a real team plays.

Obviously they’ll come into this match claiming refereeing decisions will go against them, they’re the trod-upon little brothers in Catalunya, they don’t have the money to go up against the big boys from the city proper. I mean, because referees are always biased against them. Villarato extends down to the lower reaches of the table, where Espanyol currently plies its trade. Except, of course, for the inconvenient facts of the matter: Carlos Kameni got a straight red card on Tuesday for a pretty nasty tackle on Pedro Munitis (at 0:45) that left the striker out of the season with knee ligament damage; the card was rescinded by the Comité de Competición (Competition Committee) for what amounts to no reason whatsoever. They just kinda wanted to, I guess. Everything is so unfair! Everyone hates Espanyol! Waaaa.

Kameni’s inclusion doesn’t bother me, despite his obvious talents, for the simple reason that we’re going to crush them. When you go up against a Lilliputian and you’re Gulliver-sized, you should probably come out victorious. Naturally enough, you might not if you let your guard down and they tie you up while you’re slumbering, but if we play to our maximum capability, this will not be so much a derbi as a massacre. And we owe them for last year anyway, when they beat us at the Camp Nou (after an undeserved red card to Keita–Villarato!). And we owe them a few strong-footed tackles for the last, let’s see, how long have they been around? Oh, right, 110 years.

On paper, this is an absurd David against Goliath matchup. They’re 14th in the league with 37 points and a -14 goal differential while we’re first with 83 points and a +61 goal differential. Our top scorer is Lionel Messi with 27 while their entire team has scored just 26 goals all season. No, really. And their top scorer is a guy who arrived in January and has 6 goals to his name. That does, I think, put the Argentina-born, Italian Pablo Daniel Osvaldo in the danger man category. But is that just because you have to have someone be the danger man? The team is just plain awful away from home, but at the Cornella-el-Prat stadium, they’re 8W-5D-3L (18GF, 14GA). If you’re good at math you’ll be thinking about just how bad they are on the road. 8 goals away?

We are, of course, better at home too, but we have the best away record in the league at 11W-4D-1L (34GF, 10GA) and we’ve got the best players in the world starting to work together on all 5 cylinders. That’s a scary prospect for anyone and then Pochettino goes and does his whole “this will be my lineup” before we’ve even had the chance to put out our squad list. The official site gives just the squad list:

Kameni, Cristian Álvarez, Chica, Pillud, Dídac, Luis García, Ben Sahar, Roncaglia, Forlín, Baena, Callejón, Coro, Moisés, Iván Alonso, Víctor Ruiz, Pareja, Verdú i Osvaldo.

According to Sport, however, Pochettino is going to field the following starting 11: Kameni, Chica, Pareja, Víctor Ruiz, Dídac, Hurtado, Baena, Luis García, Verdú, Callejón, Osvaldo. I don’t know if this is true or not because there’s no corroboration from the official site, but if it is true, then it looks basically like what I’d expect out of Espanyol: to wit, a very mediocre lineup.

Look, it’s hard to write a coherent and balanced preview about team that sucks this bad. Espanyol sucks. They should be going down to the Segunda, much as they should have last year, but they’re getting by. Which is okay, I guess, cause that means at least two Barcelona derbis next year as well. I’d prefer, of course, to see them go down at the expense of a Tenerife or Xerez, but whatever, you can’t always get what you want and in these years of plenty for Barça fans, I’m going to be chill about Espanyol.

Psyche! Screw Espanyol! I hate those guys.

Swedish Ninjas never hide!
Booyaka! (Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe)

Our team is looking more and more robust, with both Abidal and Ibra returning to full training–though without medical clearance to play matches. We’ll see if either of them play against Espanyol, but I expect them to at least make the bench, though rushing them back before the Inter match might be a mistake. I’d like to get them match time if they’re fit, but risking them if the’re anywhere below 100% fully recovered is not worth it. Not with the league still up in the air, the semis of the Champions League to go through, and then the CL final if we’re able to make it there. I trust the squad that was put out against Depor to do the deed against Espanyol, but I think we’ll see Keita and Busi back on the field instead of Jeffren-Yaya.

Personally, I think Yaya earned another start and it was interesting to see how Guardiola deployed Busi when the latter was subbed on for Xavi on Wednesday. Instead of Yaya playing the Xavi role, it was Busi who stepped into fill those massive shoes. Hmm. A real puzzler because all 3 of them deserve to start, but there are only 2 spots.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Milito, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, Keita, Pedro, Bojan, Messi.

Ibra and Abidal could start, but until they get the medical all clear, I’m not going with them. And they might be on the bench anyway, if Guardiola doesn’t think they need a full match to get ready for Inter or just doesn’t want to risk them in such a physical battle. And don’t be fooled: Espanyol is going to kick us and kick us hard. That’s how they play us because they can’t play us any other way. Espanyol sucks!

And remember, last time we played them, Messi wasn’t on the field and now he’s in brilliant form, as is the rest of the team. Scrappy-do-da nonsense got them a 1-0 loss at the Camp Nou, but it could have been a much bigger victory for us. Regardless, Messi + Xavi = kaboom for you. If you are an opponent.

Official Prediction: 0-2, goals by Messi and Bojan. I don’t really care what any of you say, we’re going to win this because we don’t know how else to end matches.  Huuuuubriiiiisssss. Sure, but whatever, Messi has more goals than their whole team!

TV: In the US, this match will be on GolTV
Time: Kickoff is at 8pm Barcelona/local time, 2pmEST/New York time, check your local time here.
Weather: ~59F (~15C), partly cloudy, 0% chance of rain. Pretty perfect night for some football.

If you’re interested in running the liveblog tomorrow for us, please let us know by emailing us at team[at]barcelonafootballblog[dot]com. It’s pretty easy if you haven’t done it before. I’ll be at Woodwork in Brooklyn if you’re interested in meeting me. Email me at the address just listed and I’ll let you know when I’ll be there.

Okay folks–let’s freakin do this. 6 matches left, this one is huge. RM take on Valencia at the Bernabeu on Sunday and that could have serious title race, especially if we can get some David Silva scoring more goals action (and sparking more omgsilvatomadridomg nonsense in the newspapers).

PS. The image at the top of this post comes from here. For some reason it won’t save the link within the caption itself. Technology baffles me.

PPS. Can someone get Zimbio a new editor? Seriously. The above picture of Zlatan comes from here. Note the caption. In Madrid? Fuck you, Zimbio. Then there’s something I noticed earlier today here. I realize you think all black people look the same, Zimbio, but come the hell on, guys.

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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. Cesc Blanc
    April 16, 2010

    I don’t think that Pep will play Puyol-Milito. We will need at least one very good ball playing center back and therefore, either Marquez or Pique are must starters. Espanyol play high pressing and Puyol-Milito would hurt us more than them.

  2. Kari
    April 16, 2010

    Ugh Espanyol. Boo! Hiss!

    Watching Inter-Juve. How far Juve have fallen. Sissoko sent off after 38 minutes.

    Again, I say Lucio missing will be huge. Their midfield is okay, but I think without the ball they’ll have a lot of trouble since Sneijder is their only creative outlet other than Maicon.

  3. Helge
    April 16, 2010

    Good for us: Ivan the terrible is injured 🙂
    Now I’m a lot more confident, that little Buddha has always been incredible against us…

  4. April 16, 2010

    “…puzzler because all 3 of them deserve to start, but there are only 2 spots.”
    Puzzle no more. My lineup(sorry CT):

    Alves- Pique- Milito – Puyol
    Busi – Xavi- Yaya – Keita
    Pedro! Messi (Keita)

    3-0 (Keita 37, Keita 52, Messi 78)
    …or in Zimbio-nese”: (Kolo Toure, Kolo Toure and recent Real Madrid transfer Maxwell)

    ..and if I hadn’t read the entire Isaiahenchilada, I would have been

      • vicsoc8
        April 16, 2010

        Some Inter fans were telling me Lucio won’t be suspended…

          • Kari
            April 16, 2010

            He could be available. I just read it on a blog where some of the comments mentioned he’d be unavailable.

            Looking on the UEFA site, Lucio looks to be available 🙁


          • April 16, 2010

            You guys are at all worried about a mega slow guy who was pwnd relentlessly by our boys the last time we played them?

            Here’s me, shakin’ in my boots.

          • Kari
            April 17, 2010

            Lucio’s the captain of Brazil (then again Terry was the captain of England…)

            Basically, what I’m worried about is NOT only because he’s a great defender, but that he’s a straight up thug–as in aggressive/”tough tackling”. I hate playing against those types of defenders.

            There’s also Motta if he plays. Don’t know what he was like with us, other than being on the medical table, but with Inter he’s been, umm, a thug–and I don’t mean Lucio-esque but just generally bad.

  5. jordi™
    April 16, 2010

    lol i just watched the replay, how in the world was that red rescinded.

    The loss from last year still stings, i hope we give their new stadium the thrashing it deserves.

    • Kxevin
      April 16, 2010

      I actually didn’t see that much to warrant a straight red. Kameni came out to do what pretty much any keeper would do, and the attacker dived over him.

      My only question is that given the absurd calls that we have been confronted with, none of which have been overturned, you can certainly raise your eyebrows at Kameni’s being rescinded for this match.

      • drew
        April 16, 2010

        they also overturned albiol’s yellow so he gets to play against valencia.

      • missingpage
        April 17, 2010

        He didn’t jump. If you notice carefully -it escaped me the first time as well- Kameni clearly hits Munitis left leg 😉

  6. April 16, 2010

    I’m noticing in this Inter-Juve match that Inter is attempting to make the pitch as wide as possible by holding up the ball through the center, but instead of working it down the wings they’re flicking it back into the center when Juve comes out to defend against the wide play. Inter is then free to shoot down Juve’s gullet, but Buffon has been equal to the task.

    I imagine that sort of tactic won’t work against Barça because of our midfield strength. Inter is going to have to play a hell of a lot better to beat us, that’s for sure.

  7. Eduard
    April 16, 2010

    Cabron saluda el Campeon! hahaha,. I like all those jabs, good preview..Lets kick some perico culo. I predict them making a game out of this 2-3 Valdes hat-trick, oh yes, I’m going there..

    btw,, Maicon scored a badass goal for inter and Eto’o got on the score board deep into injury time.

  8. jose011
    April 16, 2010


    hope it works this time.

  9. y2k156
    April 16, 2010

    I do want to win this one. And i hope by a good margin. I think we will go with but more muscle and hence it is probable that we start the game with Yaya, Keita and Busi.

    I watched Inter game as well and Maicon scored a golazo. I just hope Mourinho tries his tactics and comes up with a attacking line up. That would be fun. But i shall hold my horses on that one till we get preview of that match.

    For tomorrow, as with all the end of season matches, its huge. If we win, EE will be under immense pressure.

    • Kxevin
      April 16, 2010

      Mourinho will NOT attack at home. Home legs are always played tight, unless you’re us. He knows that he can’t win a shootout with us.

      Sneijder makes them a different side. Then again, we’re also a different side. We weren’t playing at anything approaching the peak that we’re at right now. Messi sure as hell wasn’t. I’d love to have Ibrahimovic get some minutes tomorrow, just to get the edge back. Same with Abidal, but it doesn’t seem to be as crucial for him.

      Recall that at their house in the group stages, we had Iniesta/Xavi/Messi, and really should have scored a couple. Ibrahimovic missed a glorious chance early, then Messi and Iniesta got in each other’s way a couple of times.

      Maybe I’m silly, but I just don’t see Espanyol vexing us that much, unless they try to kick us off the pitch.

      • Jnice
        April 16, 2010

        They will definitely try to kick us off the pitch.

        • Dave
          April 16, 2010

          Thank god Ivan is out thou just a seen a great goal from him, in a BARCA SHIRT! Class

  10. ElShowDeJason
    April 16, 2010

    Isaiah, I listened to the podcast yesterday.
    If I am not mistaken, you predicted a 3-0 for us over Depor, and 2-1 Madrid over Almeria, which were the actual scores. If in fact, I am not mistaken, kudos.

    Oh, and I know it’s funny, but wasn’t it a little mean to sign off with a “Madrid, Cabron. Saluden al Campeon!” on an E.E. podcast?

    • April 16, 2010

      1) you are correct that those were my predictions. thank you.

      2) it is never mean to be mean to RM fans. Even on their own podcasts. I would have been there receiving their attacks had we lost to them and they know they deserved it.

      3) madrid, cabron, saluda al campeon!

  11. Reagan
    April 16, 2010

    News just in… Astrid Berges Frisbey will be the co-star of Pirates of the Carribean 4. The reason I’m bringing this up is because she has catalan ancestry!

    • ElShowDeJason
      April 16, 2010

      never heard of her. time to fire up Google Images…

      • ElShowDeJason
        April 16, 2010

        ooo plain looking pale white woman.
        I like her already 🙂

      • ElShowDeJason
        April 16, 2010

        I LOVE LIV TYLER… you get a thumbs up 🙂

  12. April 16, 2010

    Never thought I’d say this, but thank God for Gol TV. So sick of watching Barca on my computer thanks to ESPN’s inane poker/fishing/college football fetish. Other than the Clasico, does anyone remember the last time Barca were on Gol TV? No matter.

    Derbies always scare me, but the way we are playing right now, there is no reason to be afraid.

  13. ElShowDeJason
    April 17, 2010 put out a La Liga’s 10 worst transfers…
    10. (MAD) Kaka
    06. (ATL) Sergio Asenjo
    05. (SEV) Alvaro Negredo
    04. (ZAR) Jermaine Pennant
    03. (BAR) Dmytro Chygryinskiy 🙁
    02. (MAD) Karim Benzema
    01. (ESP) Shunsuke Nakamura

    As far as Kaka goes… everyone knows he is a good footballer, BUT, a) his price tag was way too high. b) he will naturally be compared to Wesley Sneijder, and just doesn’t stack up to what Sneijder is doing at Inter.
    To be fair to both of them, I don’t think either of the two was used efficiently by their Coaches.
    With Chygryinskiy, his price tag was to high. He is a good defender, and a great passer like Marquez and Pique are. He is also slow, like they are, he needs to develop the Positional awareness that Pique and Marquez have to make up for the lack of pace.
    He also needs to sharpen up his tackles, and not dive-in so easily.
    I dunno where his future lies, he is a really good defender, but Puyol and Pique are our CBs and Milito and Marquez are, right now, confidence inspiring backups, just like Maxwell is proving to be.
    Benzema… another one that isn’t bad, but… he isn’t good enough to play in the top 2 or 3 in La Liga, and certainly isn’t worth 35 mil Euros… Lyon must be laughing their asses off…

    • Helge
      April 17, 2010

      Well, it was a good deal for Lyon. Also because they’ve never reached the semi finals with Benzema in 4 years. That also tells something about Benzema’s skill 🙂

  14. jose011
    April 17, 2010

    hey, kind of off topic but, does anyone know what position Oriol Romeu plays? It’s DMF position i believe, right?

    is this guy supposed to be the real deal? A player who will perhaps eventually be better suited for that position on the pitch instead of Busquets?

    -much appreciated.

  15. Helge
    April 17, 2010

    wtf?!? This stupid committee also rescinded Raul Albiol’s yellow card, so that he can play against Valencia…

  16. Alexis
    April 17, 2010

    I dislike Pericos’ attitude as well, Isaiah. However, I can’t help but to think that we had exactly the same one towards the EE a couple of decades ago. It was our only pleasure in La Liga…to beat them and try to ruin their title chances.

    Regarding the match, I cannot see why we would not win this one comfortably (we did the same in a hellish place like Bernabeu a few days ago with 45.000 more throats shouting at us).
    However, Espanyol usually deploy much more violence than EE. And inexplicably they hardly ever see a red card for that!! That is the trick: they intimidate too much our players, who do not want to get injured, let alone now when all the nice cake is coming our mouth’s way!

    As per Kameni’s red card, I think it is fair. It would have been unfair had he been suspended for more than a match since it was not an aggression. But no one understands why he can play against us today…

    I hope we go away from “Cornella-El Prat” with a great victory!

    Forca Barca!!!

  17. Eklavya
    April 17, 2010

    The ref is going to be the one who refereed us on the 6-2 vs Madrid!

  18. Eklavya
    April 17, 2010

    On Kameni:

    IMO, it wasn’t a red. As Kxevin says, he was only doing what he could have done, which was come out at the striker.

    BUT, I don’t think it should have been rescinded.
    It gets rescinded just before they play us! Whaa! OMG! Magic! What a coincidence! We had could have had lots of cards rescinded last season but hardly any of them were. Villarato!

  19. Eklavya
    April 17, 2010

    Oh and also, will you please stop swearing Isaiah? It’s getting annoying.

  20. Alexis
    April 17, 2010


    You should understand that this is Espanyol…Once my bro told me that playing against Dani Alves was like having a gremlin biting your bollocks all match long. You can apply the same precept to Espanyol players when playing against us. So…yep! We can swear on this one! 🙂

  21. Kxevin
    April 17, 2010

    Sorry, but it’s WAY too early to declare Txigrinski a “bad” transfer. He started out great, got injured, was crappy, but his last showings have been excellent. And if you think about the notion of us having two central defenders who are both attack starters and the value of that to our offense, I don’t really know if his transfer price is excessive yet.

    By the by, next season is going to be intense in terms of competition for places on our back line. Whoa.

    I will be around to run the LiveBlog, everyone. As usual, we will go live 15 minutes before the match begins, so get those quality links ready.

    • Henke
      April 17, 2010

      His name is Chygrynskiy actually 🙂 Txigrinski is the catalan way from lazy journalists 😛

      • vicsoc8
        April 17, 2010

        This has always confused me. If you go here:


        It is spelled Chygrynskiy at the top of the page and in his description, but on the left side of the page (and in the URL) it is spelled Txigrinski

      • Helge
        April 17, 2010

        Oh damn… and I thought it was our (BFB’s) very own invention!!!

        • Kxevin
          April 17, 2010

          “Lazy journalist.” That’s me. So it’s Txigrinski for me, now and henceforth.

          • Henke
            April 18, 2010

            It wasn’t personal 🙂 2; It’s very simple. It’s not his name! And it’s disrespectful :/

  22. SoccerMom
    April 17, 2010

    Tot el Camp
    Es un clam:

    ‘Inieeestaaa … Inieeestaaa … Inieeestaaa …’

    As per Pep, the ‘público es un crack’.

    Culé cool.

    ! Visca !

  23. Kxevin
    April 17, 2010

    So in the “mea culpa” category, readers with memories will recall my saying, back in the days of those rumors, that Adebayor wouldn’t have been a bad thing in the colors.

    How could I have been so wrong? Watched the Manchester derby this morning, and anyone who dares to call Ibrahimovic lazy should watch Adebayor, whose nickname should be La-Z-Boy. Walking, not contributing to defense in any way, running only when he’s certain the ball is coming to him, not bothering with helping teammates in any way. Unreal. Seems as if he’s regressed since his Arsenal days.

    • vicsoc8
      April 17, 2010

      Seems to be a common theme for Arsenal players when they leave:

      Hleb, Flamini, Kolo Toure, Adebayor…

  24. Kxevin
    April 17, 2010

    Abidal not in the squad, but Ibrahimovic is. Makes sense to make absolutely certain with Abidal. He’s too important to our defense, and Maxwell is kicking out the jams right now.

  25. Jose
    April 17, 2010

    ! It seems that the Inter-Barca match this Tuesday is in doubt… Apparently the Icelandic cloud that’s been covering Europe for the last week has closed off northern Italy’s airports, and their reopening keeps getting pushed back.

  26. April 17, 2010

    Barça’s lineup, ya’ll: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Milito, Puyol; Xavi, Busquets, Keita; Pedro, Messi, Maxwell.

    Same as what went out in the second half against Madrid. KAPOWZERS.

    And I’m off to the bar. Visca el Barça!

    • Dave
      April 17, 2010

      Good line up but id prefer yaya in there to wallop a few ‘regime supporters’. ps Who does everyone believe to be the hardest in la liga????- Id go with Javi Navarro myself-if hes still playing

    • vicsoc8
      April 17, 2010

      I’m seeing Toure instead of Keita.

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