The Road Less Traveled: Inter – Barça

CL Preview: Inter Milan – Barça, Tuesday 2:45pm, FSE/Fox Affiliate (HD)

Last time we traveled to Milan to face Inter, I went on a wonderful rampage through history. This time around, of course, the city is still the same, but the stakes are ridiculously higher than they were in the group stage. Not only are we at the tail end of the domestic season, we’re in the semifinals of the Champions League and looking to propel ourselves into the final for what could be a history-making second consecutive Champions League title and a place alongside the all-time great teams–even according to the pundits!

All that stands in our way is a piddling little ol’ man named Jose Mourinho and the athletes he coaches/domineers with disdain. That’s all. Nothing much, right? They’re not even the top team in Italy! Of course, when you can do this, you can do a lot of damage, even with your defenders. And yes, we handily defeated this team 2-0 at the Camp Nou in our last meeting, but this is a different team, this is a team that has made improvements, that is playing better, that has eliminated Chelsea and CSKA Moscow in the CL, and is just 1 point behind AS Roma in Serie A. No, they’re not as good as we are, but we just had a goalless drew with Espanyol and anything can happen. Last time we tactically destroyed them by deploying Iniesta in the midfield and making them all confused. When we went to Milan the first time, though, we played out a goalless draw with Inter even though we had Ibra and Messi in the starting lineup. The second time around, if you don’t remember, we were missing both of them, but still got an ample victory.

But still, it’s a different time of the year and while fatigue is certainly catching up with us, it was doing the same last year when we were able to get through to the final as the supposed underdog (going to Stamford Bridge in the second leg) and then destroy Man United completely. So there is no such thing as fatigue, no fatigue-related excuses, and no “Oh man, we had to ride in a bus for like twelve hours” nonsense either. If the Knicks can fly to Los Angeles, have a game, and then fly back and have another game the next day, what’s with Barça’s road-tripping being such a big deal? It’s not like they’re crammed into the back of an El Camino or something. They’re in a luxurious bus, for crying out loud. And no doubt they have an endless loop of Viva la Vida to keep them entertained. And Dani Alves has his Paulo Coelho books. And Messi has–shit, can his Lego collection fit on the bus?

I have a friend who is trapped in London at the moment by these Icelandic ash clouds that seem to be disrupting everything in Europe, so it’s not like I’m not taking it seriously, but there is some amount of good-natured guffawing going on on this side of the keyboard at how absurdly the media seems to be taking this little setback for Barça. Oh no, they’ll die on the bus because it’s such a loooong trip. Wait, it’s just a little longer than from my parents’ house in New York to where I went to college, a distance I used to drive regularly and which was doable twice in one day? Oh. Well nevermind then. (If you clicked the previous link, the building is Peters Hall, which is where I started to learn Spanish–in fact, the nearest first-floor window is where my classroom was)

Jasper Juinen/Getty Images Europe

So it’s up to our squad to believe they can win this and put the tie to bed, much like what we did in the first 70 minutes against Arsenal except this time don’t let in two stupid goals. I feel comfortable with starting Ibra and I think he’ll be able to make a difference against the high pressure I’m expecting from Inter, just as he was able to peg in two goals against Arsenal when they over-committed their defense to the offsides trap. Jonathan Wilson, I believe, thinks they’re fools for having done just that. Whether Mourinho will learn from that lesson and apply strictly what Espanyol did to us or not is a question that won’t be answered until kickoff, but I’m sure that Mou has watched all those matches diligently to try to find some insight in not only how to stop us, but how to keep us from finding any sort of a rhythm.

Because this is a two-legged affair, Mourinho may want to go for the scoreless draw at home and try to eek out a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou and thus go through on away goals. This is not a terrible tactic if you can keep us off the scoreboard, but if we can actually score at the San Siro, which is by no means a given, but neither is the opposite, the tables turn rather quickly against any negative tactics. With the return leg in our stadium, we could use an away goal to open up their defense much like we did Stuttgart’s in the second leg. Of course, Inter is much better than Stuttgart and it may turn out more like the Arsenal match where they went up a goal early thanks to defensive mistakes on our part, but I trust our squad and I trust Pep to work their damned asses off to ensure that we make the final at the Bernabeu.

The squad that went to Milan (and has now arrived, in case you missed that info) includes everyone except Iniesta and Chygrynskiy and also includes Andreu Fontas from Barça Atlètic. Abidal has been included as well, but he’s still without the medical all-clear, so I expect Maxwell to start at left back given Ibra’s return and the lack of effectiveness of the formation that put Maxwell up front. Alves isn’t suspended for this match because his red is in the league, so he can play, and I expect him to start at RB rather than up front.

Their squad list is: Julio Cesar (GK), Orlandoni (GK), Belec (GK), Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Materazzi, Samuel, Chivu, Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Cambiasso, Eto’o, Diego Milito, Pandev, Balotelli

I don’t know how they’ll line up against us tomorrow, but I think that Sneijder will start and while I’ve never been particularly worried about him, he is playing at a high level right now (perhaps his highest ever level) and that could be worrisome if he and Cambiasso can contrive to deal with our midfielders. We don’t have Iniesta, of course, and that could be a serious blow to our ability to pass the ball around their pressure. Will we field Busi-Yaya-Xavi to try and get some extra possession or will we go with Keita for either Busi or Yaya to get some steel and serious lung capacity? Given that Keita didn’t start against Espanyol, I think he’ll start against Inter, but it’s hard to argue against either lineup.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, Keita, Pedro!, Ibra, Messi.

I think that’s a pretty good lineup, though I do want to take a moment and talk about that DM position. 1) Busi, man the hell up. Your diving nonsense is absurd. It cost us scoring opportunities against Espanyol and made us look like a bunch of babies out there. You’re a man now, so fuggin’ act like one and stop your yellow card trolling. At this point, you deserve every boot that’s put into your precious little ankles. Earn your whining, bub and then don’t do it anyway cause it’s annoying and it makes you a disappointment after your improvements last year. 2) Yaya is a far better DM than Busi. I don’t care what nonsense you want to lay out to say that Busi is better, because you’re wrong. And the reason you’re wrong is comment 1 as well as Yaya’s physical domination of matches. You never see Busi take over a match. You never see him be a colossus in the back; sure, he’s talented and he’s the future of the position for our club, but right now he needs to learn how to play the way Yaya does and because we have Yaya, we should play Yaya. Not Busi. 3) Against Inter, we’ll need both possession and steel and while Busi can provide the first, Yaya can provide both. So I want to see Yaya-Keita-Xavi, but I’m sure we’ll see Busi-Keita-Xavi because, well, that’s how Guardiola wants it. It merely saddens me, that’s all. Don’t cry for me, BFB.

Who they bring onto the field will certainly be a big factor in whether or not we win this, but I think we’ll see something along the lines of a 4-4-1-1 with Eto’o and Milito shifting around up front as the two strikers. They’ll look to hit us on the break and we’ll have to be ready for their speed down the wings through Maicon. And that’s why we’ll need to have serious control over the ball: Pedro can’t keep Maicon occupied and Henry is obviously out to lunch, so we’ve got no true left wing threat. If Ibra can dominate the center and Messi can cause havoc on the right and through the middle, Pedro will have a chance to step in and score as he did the last time, but, again, that’s not going to happen unless we dominate the midfield too. But I do have faith in our boys in blaugrana and I do think that we’ll come out of this ahead, at least in the time-honored tradition of first leg matches under Guardiola.

Official prediction: 1-1. I think we’ll get one through Ibra and bring back that precious away goal. And then we’ll destroy Xerez over the weekend and put ourselves into the final at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, April 28. Come on boys, we can do this!

Time: 8:45pm Local/Milan time, 2:45pm EST/New York time, check your local time here.
: In the US, this game will be shown live on the local Fox affiliate (here it’s MSG+) in HD as well as on Fox Sports en Español.
Weather:  ~54F (~12C), 20% chance of rain. Should be a nice night for a game.
Ref: The ref for this match is the Portuguese Bartolo Benquerenca, who has reffed in quite a few Champions League matches (11 to date) and has been pre-selected as a World Cup ref for this year. He appears to be a card-happy guy, so expect quite a few of those to be shown.

And so, yes, let’s do this. Visca el Barça!

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. And then we’ll destroy Xerez over the weekend and put ourselves into the final at the Bernabeu on Wednesday

    that gave me chillsssss
    just MAKING it to the final is an accomplishment my mind can’t process right now

  2. I’m with you, I’d rather see Yaya start this game over Busquets, but at the same time I don’t think he will. His form hasn’t been fantastic (or even above average), but then again neither has Busquets’.

  3. First of all i think that this will be not-so-hard game knowing Inter’s lack of midfield players. Only the offense is something of a threat but it gives me comfort knowing the capacity of our team defence. I agree that our DMF role will be a tricky one. I agree with Isaiah that Yaya is better option on the DMF role, as a matter of fact i always prefer Yaya over Busi on that role. Of course Busi has good games but i simply hate his diving thing. And it will be shown no respect for his dives in Milan for sure! I hope that it will be a great game knowing the anger we carry from Espa’s game and my prediction is 2-0. We will just dominate the midfield as always and have a lots of goal oportunities. Still i doubt only on the Ibra option. i dont know maybe i am wrong but playing him at milano will be a bad move, still i dont know maybe i am wrong. I would prefer bojan-messi-pedro but still in Pep i trust! 🙂

    1. lack of midfield players…i dunno, i think sneijder is someone to be verrrry careful with. he played well against us when he was with RM, hes got a good shot from distance….i would feel much better with iniesta on the field, in terms of our midfield advantage. motta has been playing well and is masia-bred, even if he was deemed surplus to requirements by rijkaard a few years ago. muntari and cambiasso are no chumps either. the midfield battle will be very interesting.

    2. Masia bred? I mean, sort of. He played for Barça starting at the age of 17 and then moved to the first team at 20. But he was never all that good and I still don’t rate him as highly as others obviously do. Not that he’s bad, per se, but he’s not as good as people say.

      Sneijder is definitely good as are Muntari and Cambiasso. I wonder if we won’t see a straight up 5-man midfield from Inter tomorrow, though I think that’s unlikely.

    3. you caught me pretending i know more than i do. my main point was just that their midfield is nothing to scoff at. our not having iniesta evens out the balance a lot, id say.

    4. Muntari is NOT good. I can say that much with confidence. All he’s done for Inter has been collecting yellow and red cards.

      Oh, and injuring Sneijder in practice. He won’t start and, if they can help it, won’t see any time on the pitch.

  4. I want to cry.

    It seems that Sportsnet decided that Poker After Dark /30 in 30: New York Yankees/Sportsnet Connected/US Open Nine Ball is MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS MATCH (the reason for the / is because Sportsnet has 4 channels; Eastern, Western, Central, Pacific).

    The major thing that pisses me off is that they’ll be showing Lyon-Bayern on Wednesday, the *****!.

    Now I have to stream it and I blame Hockey. Damn these playoffs (even though Ottawa qualified and will mostly get thumped by…whoeverthey’replaying)!!! UGH!

    1. I have a veetle FSC link, so hopefully I’ll survive.

      Across the border here we have two equally crappy TV providers, Bell (satellite) and Roger (cable) (WHO ARE OWNED BY THE SAME COMPANY BY THE WAY), I have the former. They’re trying to get in my good graces by giving me GOLTV CANADA on free preview, but IT WON’T WORK.

      Not when they give us Fox Sports World Canada that shows some Serie A matches, random matches from Argentina and Female motorcycle racing and Guy Stuff with John Moore.


    2. FSW is such a useless channel
      i miss when espn got champions league which meant tsn got their share too :S

  5. There is nothing more that I want than to be in that champions league FINAL! I had a nightmare that we were eliminated and woke up screaming. We can not let this happen in real life!

    I respect Mourinho probably more than any other coach besides Pep. He will definitely play for a draw tomorrow, but I think Ibra will lift us. IBRALATA!!!

    1. still, thanks for sharing. lets hope he does just that. we can not afford to have an anonymous ibra tomorrow. not saying he needs to score, even, but he needs to cause them problems by working very hard, running off the ball, and creating space for messi and pedro.

    1. the only true striker was milito, etoo and pandev got up and down the field a lot. they worked hard.

  6. Yaya would cut off Sammy and Milito’s connection to the outside world. I can’t understand him not starting him.

    So… Yaya vs. Eyjafjallajokull. Who wins?

  7. Right, now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m thinking Yaya/Busi-Keita-Xavi is the one that will give us more possession and Yaya-Busi-Xavi is the one that will add more steel/lung capacity.

    But anyway, I don’t think Yaya will play this match (and not because of Guardiola always picking Busi) because, frankly, this isn’t a Yaya kind of match, but rather a Busi-type, as much as I really, really want to see Yaya play. Inter will no doubt park the bus and play a highly defensive/counter-attackwhentheyhavethechance type of match. They won’t be attacking us very much, so I don’t think Yaya will be needed, or rather the skills Yaya brings when he plays DM.

    The role of DM for us in this game won’t be just to destroy attack but be part of the build-up and attacking play. For all of Busi’s faults, I think he’ll be better suited for this game. The way I see Yaya when he plays DM for us is that he destroys attacks and becomes something of another CB (ie. plays much deeper). Busi, on the other hand, also breaks attack but moves more forward then back (if that makes any sense)

    Well, hopefully that made some sense and didn’t just looks like verbal diarrhea :S .

    Anyway, I’ll also go for 1-1 since we like to draw in our away knockout fixtures

    1. As if Busquets provides anything. He is in the selection week in week out just because he owns a dirty movie for Pep and he is abusing him.

    2. “How the hell does Busi give more steel than Keita?”

      He doesn’t. You made that assumption yourself 🙂

      Yaya provides more steal than Keita was the point I was trying to make as Yaya-Busi-Xavi usually lines up like so


      while Yaya/Busi-Keita-Xavi lines up like:


      At least, that’s what I think, but I ain’t no Pep.

    3. “I’m thinking Yaya/Busi-Keita-
      Xavi is the one that will give us more possession and Yaya-Busi-Xavi is
      the one that will add more steel/lung capacity.”

      Isnt it the opposite? Keita provides more steel and lung ability than Busi while the latter keeps the ball better (although we all know about his giveaways at times).
      Even if you think that yaya adds more steel than keita.

    4. The reason I think Keita adds more to possession is because of the Espanyol game and therefore Inter as I believe the two will be similar. We had much, much more possession when Keita came on. Playing in the Iniesta role means Keita is there to keep possession and provides much better lateral cover (i.e defending on the flanks) With Yaya at DM and Busi just behind Xavi, you don’t get the same cover than with Keita IMO.

      I agree with you that Keita does run a lot more than Busi, but I think the work Busi puts in is underrated. We don’t mention it or pay attention to it, but he does do a LOT of work. He might not get enough credit for that IMO.

      I get what you’re saying and I agree with you, but what I was saying (and what I guess I should have said) was that in THIS particular match where we have high pressure/defensive game, Yaya-Busi-Xavi wouldn’t work as well as Busi-Keita-Xavi as we need quick passing and lateral cover, which is something I believe we’ll get with the latter.

      Anyways, I ain’t a tactician (I’m absolutely horrible at Football Manager XD) so I could be wrong. We’ll just have to agree to disagree 😀

    5. Also, maybe I should edit Yaya/Busi-Keita-Xavi and take out the Yaya option and just use Busi-Keita-Xavi.

      Makes more sense that way, huh 😛 .

    6. That makes perfect sense to me. I prefer the Busi Xavi Keita midfield. Busi has a much quicker turn around and can find a pass/cross much sooner than the Yaya can.

      The thing that bothers me is the front line though. I think that it would be P! Ibra and Messi for now. But P! will get owned by the big defenders. So I would like to see Henry(left) Messi in the middle and Ibra to the right. When Ibra was playing slightly to the right of the box that he does well. This is where he got his two goals against Arsenal.

      My recommended formation would be

      Alves Pique Puyol Abidal(or Mad Max)
      Busi Xavi Keita
      Ibra Messi Henry

      And that will smoke them.

  8. I think the bus issue disturb the game preparations more than just the road trip. And with the heavey schedule we have, every training session can make the difference. Especially if some special tactics will be applied for this game.

    Saying so, I do not mean that its valid as an excuse. But it makes things a bit tricky.

  9. just to let people know if you live in washington state (maybe even oregon/idaho/vancouver) the game will be FSNW, same channels that covers the mariners. which means…HD BARCA!

    my prefered line up is, dani, pique, puyol, maxwell, yaya, xavi, JDS, Ibra, Bojan, Messi.

    i figures between JDS and Xavi, they wont ever touch the ball, and the energy and passing intelligence of bojan should compliment ibra.

  10. Ruben Rochina scored a brace and Tiago (I suppose Alcantara) a penalty for Spain’s U19.

    1. Ruben Rochina seems to be a scoring machine. Does anyone have his stats for Barca Athletic this season?

    2. He played in juvenil A this season and although he was out for a while injured he still came back and finished top scorer with 17 goals.Hes also a freekick specialist .

    3. Wow, awesome. You wouldn’t happen to know if he’s capable of playing on the wings as well as in the center would you?

    4. in response to larm’s comment, is JDS even travelling with the team? i didnt think he was. i thought only Fontas from the B-team is with us.

  11. And another good news: The airports around Europe start to be open again. We’ll most-likely be able to fly home to Barcelona!

    1. Bad News: Inter won’t have to make the same road trip next week.


  12. Busi might soon find himself represented in one of these videos if he doesnt tone down the diving 😀


    Anyway, i trust whoever pep sends out there to do their job.And busi has played well in most of the big games this season.If Yaya were playing better than him he would be playing, same for henry or any player that loses his place.

  13. I also think Henry should start, he has looked good in the few minutes hes gotten recently, with some great touches and runs. I would start him over Pedro, and bring Pedrazo in as a supersub

    1. As much as Pedro! has been a great sub, I’d rather play with 10 than start Henry. He was miserable against Arsenal a European rival, and we really need the good ones out there, unfortunately I think he has lost form. Against Espanyol, to me, he was useless.

  14. pedro right now will do a better job of harassing their backs than henry. pedro can beat maicon, and henry cant. i think the team looks better with bojan rather than ibra but i guess start ibra and bring on bojan once ibra’s lungs lay dying on the pitch. we need lung busters which is why yaya shouldnt start as well.

    alves pique puyol maxwell
    keita xavi
    messi ibra pedro

    bring on yaya for busi in second half if we have a goal

    WHERE THE HELL IS HECTOR. HECTOR PLEASE FLOW SOME TACTICAL COMMENTS THROUGH ISAIAH FOR THESE PREVIEWS. i love me some of isaiah’s enthusiasm and humor, but we need you to drop some science. ramzi’s preview over at theoffside, which i linked to in the last thread, is also a good read.

    daryl at theoffside (one of the two daryls from larry, daryl and daryl, it would appear) is predicting a 1-0 inter victory. i think we will get a goal though.


    1. is [a 1-0 Inter win that is] as well but a Madridista wrote the so-called “preview”

      Actually, a lot of people are going for Inter so it’s one of the few times we’re actually underdogs. I like, I like 🙂

    2. I’m interested in why you think the team would be better with Bojan? I think that Inter will play a physical game, and I’ve never thought of Bojan as being particularly good against that kind of team.

      I feel like I have some sort of irrational prejudice against him compared to the way you all act about him. I’m still not totally convinced despite a few good performances. Oh well.

    3. Liza im with you here. I see a lot of people here support him, and yes he has good signs of a great player TO BE, he doesnt convince me quite yet. Ibrah gets to start in my book.

  15. here is mourinho’s press conference in english


    here are highlights of the game in milan 0-0


    here are highlights of the game in barcelona 2-0


  16. For those of you interested, theres a good article by Graham Hunter (great journalist of la Liga) on the BBC Sport website called ‘Guardiola the Conqueror’. Worth a look

    1. Kari, the only links I could find is HD 10 Gigs, would you want that? That’s kind of big lol. And it’s only rapidshare links.

    2. 10 Gigs and Rapidshare?

      Right, in that case, I’ll pass 😀 Thanks for taking the time to look Jnice.

  17. tactical preview of inter-barca at zonal marking


  18. wow quite nervous for the match tmw. Am I the only on here who thinks we will not make it to the finals? Sneijder, Eto’o and Mourinho will approach this tie with a giant chip on their shoulder. And I think we looked pretty tired before having to drive all the way to Milan, a big disadvantage, especiallly since we only have two full days between matches. Btw, Isiah, I know Americans are used to driving long distances and think nothing of it. Europeans are not the same. For us it’s f-ing loooooong, lol! Mostly I still remember how lucky we were to beat Chelsea and besta believe Mourinho knows how to play us.
    Oh well ¡Visca Barça! como no (or however you say como no in catalan)

  19. Exams have been keeping me busy, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch the game.

    I’m hoping for a 1-1 or at least an away goal, so long as they don’t win by a huge margin. A win would obviously be best, but I’m not going to get overconfident. I just want a good game.

  20. Oh, and this is the picture Helge. I guess I should put a disclaimer, no?



    Consider yourself warned.

    1. That picture increased my respect for them, actually. The permanent scarring, of course, could easily be attributed to them being fugly individuals and so I suppose the warning might still be necessary. Which is fair.

      Otherwise, do try to respect the sexuality and lifestyles of all of those in this space. We are all one group of supporters and no matter who we are, no matter what our personal lives entail (or don’t), we’re all equal and we’re all cules. Let’s leave it there shall we?

    2. I’m not being serious Isaiah! 😀

      I figured that if someone did want to see Paul Scholes and Gary Neville (sorry, but ewww! 😀 ) in such a position, they should be told beforehand. Then they can’t blame me if they can’t get the image out of their mind.

      Nevertheless, sorry if I offended anyone.

  21. I have a feeling that we may not necessarily win but will get a good result against Inter. 1-1 sounds about right. El clasico was definitely more nervewrecking than this. Busi will probably start over Yaya, and if he does he better behave. Yes his passing is currently better, but just as that fact may help our game flow, so will his antics break the flow. I can only be patient so long which is why I am not the coach haha! but that argument that Busi is more disciplined than Yaya can stop. You stay cool and smart when the game is at the most intense and nervewrecking, not go down when the team need you most. Somehow it’s probably too late. Yaya is off form, so Busi starts. And in the very unlikely event we happen to have a 2-0 lead, take him off before he starts getting crazy ideas. Now then I bet Busi will do something that will makes Kxevin give him a 9 in ratings (naturally losing point to Busi moments). All that said, I am proud of this team. Despite losing Henry’s form, accomodating a still maturing Busi and Pedro, we are in the CL semis! We were supposed to face that other team at least 4 times this season, not inter! Go kick some ass Barca! you gotta let out that Espanyol frustration and that long bus trip, hopefully with some goals. Visca Barca!

    OT: Hoping to see more of Rochina in preseason, but doubt it. He and Thiago probably will be called up for the UEFA U19 finals again. He’s a goal machine. He scored the equaliser against Norway after coming on as a sub, plus the 2 today.

    Speaking of our youths, I think it’s impressive that Barca Atletic is still managing to keep winning despite players constantly beeing called up for NT, and injuries to key players. We are truly spoilt! No Bartra, Muniesa, Fontas, Thiago, no problem! Luis Enrique has Juvenile A to count on. If they get promoted, they will be playing in the same division as the EE Castilla right?

  22. Ibra scored 1 against Stuttgart, 2 against Arsenal and now 2moro he shall score 3 against Inter…heres wishful thinking..Cmon Ibra we need you to show 2moro!!!! IN PEP WE TRUST!!!

  23. Greetings cules, I come from the murky lands of the Inter Offside. First off, nice preview!

    Second, I recall someone commented that the media was predicting that Inter are the favourites for this one. Lets not kid ourselves – I’m a die-hard Interista, and even through my black and blue coloured glasses, I know how ridiculous it sounds to think of us as favourites. Definitely, we’re a better side than the one you lot destroyed in November, but your team has aliens from some other galaxy (probably the ones the Scientologists believe created Earth). But what I do think the media is unconsciously doing is gunning for the underdogs. Lets hope Mourinho can get our boys not to eat up the hype.

    Third, there are all kinds of stories floating around about the ‘revolutionary’ new 4-1-4-1 that we’re supposed to deploy tomorrow. This lineup supposedly features Eto’o on the left wing, Maicon on the right, Cambiasso protecting the defence. That would mean Cordoba as a fullback, which we’ve tried earlier this season, and in the past, and has always been nothing short of disasterous. On one hand, it would kind of make sense to have our fastest defender marking Messi, especially when our best LB Chivu is short of match fitness following his skull fracture in January. On the other hand, I’d much rather have a tried and tested fullback than a makeshift one. But knowing Mourinho, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did go 4-2-3-1 on your asses, unbalanced as it may be.

    For sure, it’ll be a fantastic game. Do drop by the Inter Offside and check out Johonna’s preview. We’ve been getting too many Juve/Roma trolls, so it’ll be nice to have some variety in the trash-talk. 🙂 Cheers!

    1. apparently, i guess mou will field 4-1-4-1. i think this will work as you guys will flood our early ball distribution from def – mid and maybe from GK-def. mour must study a few times on how to explode our weakness. but i believe, pep also have his own strategies. i agreed with you, sometimes when opponents put a lot of pressure to our defend, it may disrupt our game flow.but somehow pep should know about it in several occasions. believe me, pep has taken into his plan bout it. maybe, to do quick and slick passing from the bottom may disappoint the opponent. they will only chasing shadow and bursting lung for nothing. i’m sure, they will move in triangle position to escape from dangerous moment and move the ball around and slowly go forward

      both teams have their own strength. i expect a great game tonight with the best team should win the tie.

  24. They are just going to do the usual Mourinho first-leg-at-home style of play. Hack, dive, hack, dive and grind out a 0-0 draw. Scum

  25. I love how people justify Yaya not playing by saying he is off form.. Please the man can’t get 2 games in a row against decent opposition which is ridiculous considering what he did for Barca last season.

    Anyway it’s not like Busi has been playing good or playing to the standards Yaya set last season.

    For me an inform Yaya is superior in all departments and starts all day. He has the ability to dominate a midfield and put Xavi and the back four at ease.

    I remember last year semi final first leg against Chelsea Yaya was a rock and beasted their midfield which came to basically kick Xavi and Iniesta out of the game but Yaya allowed the 2 resume their duties.

    I feel Inter will come with a similar game approach but if Busi does play (which he will) I hope to God he doesn’t make the error which brought back Arsenal in the game at the emirates.

    1. pretty sure that the first leg tie with Chelsea last year ended in a scoreless draw. So maybe iniesta and xavi weren’t free. Maybe Busi can help break the bus.

    2. Watch that match again, stowe. Yaya dominated Essien, Lampard, Ballack, and co. It really was like a one-man show. He even bullied Essien off the ball a couple of times.

  26. Maicon, Zanetti, Samuel, Motta are due to miss return leg if they get
    booked if am not misstaken ?

    Inter with Out 3 of those 4 players in Nou Camp hmmmmm

    Spec if they go out kickin ppl i hope they get the yellow

    1. and someone said the ref is a lover of giving cards. who’s on the chopping block for us though? anyone?

  27. I am predicting a 1-1 draw with Ibra to score a goal.

    I do think that this is a tough match coming after number of clutch matches and especially after draining match with cheaters over weekend. But for professional players, matches like these are the fulcrum of their career so i do expect for everyone to be up for it. It will be tough and I predict Mou to go with 4-2-3-1 which will make the midfield very crowded. In turn, i think we will go with 4-1-3-1-1 with keita and pedro flanking Xavi. I do think Busi will start but i hope to god that he has learned not to roll over when we have the ball. He seems intelligent fellow so he should know by now that he gets less than 50% fouls when he starts rolling around and is hurting our own game.

    Fingers crossed and office seems just that much boring today:).

  28. A few things:

    –No offense meant, but anyone who thinks that our side looks better with Krkic, hasn’t really been watching closely enough. Also, consider the opposition. Yes, Krkic can shine against weaker sides that allow him to take full advantage of his movement. But there’s a reason that Guardiola doesn’t play him against real sides. I can see Lucio giggling, picking Krkic up and putting him in his pocket, leaving us with 10 men and a pair of wiggling legs.

    Champions League is a time for men.

    –Espanyol was the match that laid bare our transfer market errors, as well as our lack of midfield depth. If Guardiola is an honest man, he’s kicking himself for that, particularly in light of the fragility of Iniesta. As I’ve noted before, Gudjohnsen and Hleb were of value for squad depth. Could Dos Santos have been useful this season? Perhaps, with more blooding. But Guardiola is conservative when it comes to player selection, even as he likes to fiddle with how he lines them up.

    –We should start Henry for this match. Coments such as “I’d rather play with 10 than play Henry” don’t wash with me. This isn’t going to be an up-and-down match. It’s going to be tactical as hell, with a lot of play just outside both boxes. So we will need a winger who will draw respect (sorry, but that ain’t Pedro!), and who can play with his back to goal (again, that ain’t Pedro!). In my world, Henry wouldn’t play the whole match. But his physical skills, strength and ability to control and distribute with a defender on his back make him for me, on paper, an ideal player for this match.

    I repeat, the Champions League is a time for men. Henry is a man. So is Ibrahimovic. With he and Henry controlling and distributing inside or at the edge of the Inter box, it makes Messi a more difficult factor to control. Pedro! running around like a headless chicken plays right into Inter’s hands. Is Henry the best man for the job right now? No. But he’s all we have.

    –No Iniesta is painful. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Abidal, Ibrahimovic and Keita struggling with fitness, quintuple ouch. We’d be happy with a 1-0 loss, if you were to ask Guardiola to be honest.

    –Stopping Messi is another reason that we can’t have Pedro! out there. Henry and Ibrahimovic will thrive on the space created by their not wanting to let Messi kill them. Someone needs to be able to take the pass, turn, and get a shot off. Again, that ain’t P!. He is aces while running at the defense, or taking advantage of space created by someone else. In this match, there will be no space.

    –My ideal midfield would contain xavi, Keita and The Yaya. Busquets skill set might be of value if we can grab a lead or an away goal for a draw, then need to tika-taka the match away. But The Yaya hits the kind of long passes that will be needed to serve our front line, since gumming up the midfield will be Mourniho’s Job One. Xavi is going to have a very hard time today.

    So, how I would line ’em up:

    The Yaya—-Xavi—–Keita

    My prediction? 2-1 Inter, which will leave us in pretty good shape going home. Mourinho might upset that prediction by playing tighter than usual, but if they start Balotelli, he will be a handful with Milito, Sneijder and Eto’o. And if they are going to start him, it will be at home.

    1. Agreed this isn’t the match for Krkic. Right now he plays best when he has room to run and roam, and this game is going to be contested and won in a lot of tight encounters where there isn’t a whole lot of space.

      Pedro would be an ideal supersub today because his movement could be devastating to Inter near the end of the game when they’re starting to tire. The problem with this is you have to start Henry. I agree that Henry is the perfect person to start on paper, but the fact that Pep has been lining up Maxwell and Alves on the wing has to tell you something about Henry’s form.

      Iniesta would be huge in this game, and if he was fit I’d line him up on the left wing with Messi and Ibra and Xavi, Keita, and a DM inside.

      Finally, I shouldn’t even show up to work on days like these. There’s approximately zero chance I will get anything productive done.

    2. Did someone really say that Bojan should play vs Lucio and Samuel? LOL!!! 😀 I usually defend Bojan but playing him vs Inter would be …. well rather not say it.

  29. i dont get it how some people under estimate yaya.
    we had 22 matches since the turn of the year..
    yaya played 8 matches this year and he disappointed only TWICE. and once was just ok ok.
    and the rest of the matches he bossed, dominated the midfield and out performed busi. so i dont understand how time and time again yaya is over looked.
    busi bossed the midfiled, what, only once or twice..that was last year.
    busi has improved a lot! but i still don’t see how he is chosen over yaya again and again. he made sooo many mistakes. and i dont buy the , oh he is for the future, we are at PRESENT.

  30. back to the match,
    i expect a very dirty physical match, so i don’t see how bojan can play his game. i even have doubts over pedro.. just look at the espanyol match how he was hustled off the ball..
    henry should start imo and pedro coming in the 2nd half..supersub!
    we should be alright..a draw is good as well..

  31. I’m prediciting henry is going to get in the game and make an impact. nuff said, now let the game begin already!

  32. Has Abidal been the given the green light?? Any news?? I can’t make my lineup prediction otherwise! :\

    1. He’s in the squad alright but I don’t think he got the medical clearance … right?

  33. Have you guys heard about the latest scandal? Ribery supposedly had an affair with an underage prostitute.


    1. Relief, I never wanted him. The way he is dealing with Bayern is just plain unprofessional.

    1. I’m not going to predict it, but it’s been a while since Pique scored, and this seems like the type of match where someone like him could make the difference.

  34. Sport expects that Abidal will be given medical clearance today. He has been practicing full speed and as normal for a while now.

  35. Also the fans have spoken, and they too want them some Yaya in the starting XI against Inter, with a midfield of Xavi/Keita/The Yaya. More than 4,000 people voted in the Sport poll.

    1. And they didnt want Henry 😀

      Either way, luckily its not up to the fans to pick the selection. Pep will pick the best options, as he has been doing so far this season. If the best for this game includes Yaya or Henry, that’s something to wait and see.

      Whoever starts must have a good day. As long as they bring a win, I have no inevitable preferences.

  36. For MD and Philly cules, the Comcast sports channel will show the match in HD (ch. 576 in HoCo MD on Verizon).

  37. Rats, the avatar’s stuck on the Buddha. I’ve got a great shot of Jose spouting water from his mouth. Darn.

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