Liga Preview: Barça – Xerez, Saturday 12pm EST, GolTV
Update! Check out my Minute +10 Podcast with Kevin Walker of OGN/Serie A Weekly. We discuss the Champions League in-depth and what the underage French hooker scandal could lead to.
I seem to enjoy the sport-as-war titles, don’t I? There were the Visigoths, the invasions of the Russian steppe, and a few other “it’s time to kill some fools” kinds of titles out there. This is no exception, but what’s interesting is this match seems like the forgotten child–the Kevin in Home Alone to our Paris vacation, if you will. And no, I’m not talking about our Kevin. I mean, it’s just Xerez, right? It’s just the worst team in the league, isn’t it? We can forget about this one and move on to the bigger fish we have waiting next to our fryer, can’t we? It’s Inter, man, the remontada, the comeback of the century, come on, stop with the boring Xerez talk.
But that’s the thing: you can’t forget about a single point, a single minute in this league or you’ll end up without any silverware. Overlook even the smallest of fish and they’ll find a way to crawl up your junk and eat you from the inside out (read this and this to justify your skepticism/fear). So, what I’m saying is, you gotta go balls-to-the-wall against even the smallest of opponents and put them to the sword quickly if you want to rest at all during a match. Allowing them to stick around lets them grow in confidence and that, in turn, means we have to expend more energy to destroy them.
And yes, I just spent the last 10 minutes shivering at the thought of Victor Sanchez climbing up my urethra and into–must stop this goddamned line of thinking before I freak out and run into the street screaming about Spanish men being in my pants. For those of you who live in crazytown like me, it would just be a typical Friday afternoon, though, right?
So it’s Xerez, the return of Victor Sanchez and the ever-dangerous Sidi Yaya Keita, whose mental and physical powers either cancel each other out or are beyond those of our own Immortals, which is not something I can even get close to wrapping my mind around. Yaya Keita is such a badass name. Maybe he plies his trade at Xerez just to keep his profile lower so that while he’s off fighting intergalactic wars no one will notice his absence. I don’t know, I can’t think straight cause of that candiru business.
It’s worth considering that while we’re up on top of the financial pyramid, there are teams struggling to get by within the same league despite not having management made up entirely of blockheaded blunderbusses (cough Portsmouth cough). It is notable–if not at all coincidental–that the day before they play Barcelona, their official website publishes a call to arms against the media rights rules in Spain (if it shows up in English, click the Spanish flag for grammatically correct Spanish rather than obviously Google-translated English). They point out that they earn 1 euro for every 11 that Madrid earns in TV rights, which is an unsustainable financial climate. In the past I’ve advocated a more equitable TV rights deal and given that the EPL appears to be successful with that model, I don’t think there can be that many arguments against it, though I’m sure some of you will figure some out and post them in the comments.
So what’s with Xerez these days? They’re the cola of the league table, just as they have been for most of the season, coming in 20th with just 27 points from 33 matches. Their leading scorer is Bermejo with 10 goals (1/3 of their total) and so I suppose he has to be put in the “danger man” category. That’s one more than Pedro has…Xerez’s record is an abysmal 6W-9D-18L (30GF, 56GA) and away from home they’re even worse at 2W-5D-9L (15GF, 30GA), though oddly enough they’re 14th in the away table and 19th at home. They are, however, coming in on somewhat of a high, having gone 3W-3D-2L in their last 8. Those 12 points account for almost half of their overall points total and their only notable victory was against Atletico Madrid at the Calderon (1-2) and they also held Sevilla 1-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
We, however, are sterling at the Camp Nou, owners of the only undefeated home record in the league (suck it, Madrid!) at 15W-1D-0L (46GF, 9GA). I mean, that has to spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r for Xerez, right? But we’re going to need all of our wiles to pull it off, I think, because we’ll be without Dani Alves after his red card for two bookable offenses during the Espanyol match last weekend was upheld and Abidal has basically been ruled out after re-re-injuring his groin in Thursday’s practice session. Can that guy maybe stop injuring himself? We need him to go up against Inter and now he’s just gone and lowered his chances of playing in that match? Dammit.
All of that means that we’ll see Puyol, who has to miss the Inter match anyway, on the right, with Marquez and Milito in the middle and Maxwell on the left. If only Muniesa weren’t injured, we could have an entirely M back line (and we could start Ruben Miño in goal, Messi up front, er…Mavi in the middle with Musi? Hmm. We could also do Pinto, Puyol, Pique, Pilito, and Pedro! on the left…that’s even more of a stretch…
Predicted lineup: Valdes, Puyol, Marquez, Milito, Maxwell, Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Pedro, Ibra, Messi. I think we roll out what we need to to get the job done and get it done early. Then we sub in Henry, Busi, and Bojan. throughout the second half in order to get them some minutes prior to what could be an all-hands-on-deck last few minutes against Inter. I could see Chygrynskiy getting some time, but I don’t see the utility because he can’t be used in the CL match and we have to be prepared for that.
So we’ll put the boot in (up to the knee, as Kxevin likes to say), twist, shake, and move on. Official prediction: 4-0. Messi gets back on the scoring track with a brace and that bodes well for us on Wednesday, Ibra grabs one, and so does Keita. Chickens: counted. Eggs hatched: none.
We will, of course, have to fight to the bloody end of this league campaign, so let’s start that off here, against Xerez. There is no I in quit. Shit, there is…hmm…how about: there’s no Barça in quit! Yeah! Viscaaaaaa.
Time: 6pm Local/Barcelona, 12pm EST/New York, check your local time here.
TV: In the US, the game will be on GolTV
Weather: ~64F (~17.5C), ~75% humidity, clear skies, 0% chance of rain. Should be a beautiful night for football.
PS, here [link fixed!] is a follow up article on Juan Antonio Samaranch. Thanks, Steve, for posting it in the comments of the previous post. I’m very much anti Olympics and anti World Cup in terms of what they do to the places they’re held, especially when those places are poor(er) and can’t really afford all the things that are required of them. The human toll far, far exceeds the value of the competitions and that should be changed. Of course, I still watch them, which is something I shouldn’t do, but how am I not going to watch the World friggin’ Cup? Oh the dilemmas…