News of the Day: April 26, 2010

It’s obviously going to be a tense couple of days as we all count down, either inwardly or outwardly, to the kickoff against Inter on Wednesday afternoon/evening. Personally, I’m already dreaming about it in nervous and hectic ways, with the team scoring goals, but always needing one more to advance. My first thought upon waking up this morning was that we could win 4-2 and still not go through. It’s going to be a long couple of days…

But there is news afoot and it’s worth discussing:

The most significant news is that Sport is reporting that Guardiola already has his lineup chosen. If you’re surprised by Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Abidal, Busqutes, Xavi, Keita, Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Messi, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to what has gone on since the beginning of the year. El Mundo Deportivo reports that Yaya may have played his way into a starting spot with his performance against Xerez, which was a glorious one indeed. Frankly, I would be surprised if Yaya started and Busquets didn’t and so I imagine that Sport‘s lineup will turn out to be correct despite several potential changes, including Maxwell for a possibly-still-injured Eric Abidal. Our French LB is currently working with physios on the field, but I don’t know what that means for his recovery time because the extent of his injury is unclear. Andres Iniesta is also training on the field again, but he is an assured absence until at least the last few weeks of the season and probably until the Champions League final, if we make it there.

Speaking of injuries, the word from Inter Milan’s camp is that Wesley Sneijder is working as hard as he can to be fit for the match thanks to an injury last week in training. There’s no word from the team on his condition and so I’m assuming that he will indeed play. Without Sneijder, they would be forced to field a far less controlling midfield and their counterattacks would have far less fluidity than they did last Tuesday when Sneijder was arguably the best player on the field.

There is also currently no reliable word about Maicon‘s status, but we’ll find out soon enough whether he’ll play. I imagine he will and that will make a massive difference during the game. He didn’t make the squad for their match this past weekend against Atalanta, but there’s also no specific mention of him on the official site as having missed practice. Backup Davide Santon is still recovering from a knee meniscus tear and won’t make the squad, which means they’re down another backup fullback in case Maicon can’t make it. As I said in the podcast I record last week, I want to beat the best, so if Maicon can play, I will not be disappointed. I am, however, a realist and know that his absence would greatly enhance our chances of going through, just as Iniesta’s absence enhances theirs.

The ref for the match will be the Belgian Frank de Bleekere, a man who is quite likely to ref either a semifinal or the final of this year’s World Cup. He’s generally quick to show yellow cards, which could work out in our favor or in Inter’s favor, though their history with him has been somewhat stormy (3 wins, 1 loss, but the loss took place along with Marco Materazzi‘s sending off at Anfield against Liverpool as seen above). I haven’t found statistics for our matches with de Bleekere, but I know that he reffed a 2007 CL match between Chelsea and Barça (the 4-2 loss), and the UEFA Super Cup match against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Because de Bleekere is known for handing out cautions, it’s worth noting that we have several potential suspension risks even if we do make it to the final. Dani Alves and Gerard Pique are on yellows and would be suspended if they pick one up on Wednesday. On Inter’s side, Javier Zanetti, Maicon, and Walter Samuel are all one card from suspension.

And of all of this de Bleekere business apparently means that Howard Webb will ref the CL Final. What? Really? Okay…on to other things before my brain explodes:

The Kevin Rating Synthesis (KRS) is out. Our latest match against Xerez rated a 6.62 average and 7 median, which is substantially better than our season-low of 4.29 average, 4 median against Espanyol the week before. The Inter match wasn’t rated because I did the ratings, not Kevin, so no word on where that would have been relative to the Espanyol crapfest. Our I found a mistake in the cumulative ratings, so I’m still working out; I’ll be getting that to you very shortly. For now, our best rated player in La Liga has been Eric Abidal at 8.38/9. Funny that he only has just one perfect 10 to his name in 13 rated appearances. Second is Valdes with 7.76/8 in 29 rated appearances (remember, ratings I made during my reviews do not count towards the KRS). The worst rated is Jeffren with 4.50/5 in 6 appearances, followed by Bojan at 4.64/4.5 in 14 apps.

Moving on to the Table Prediction Competition: Kevin O. remains in the lead. Check out the standings here. Please note that today’s standings do not reflect the Athletic-Osasuna score because it has yet to be played. Note that as a group we are all above the “children laugh at you” score, but only 2 of us are “not too shabby.” Ah well.

In Yahoo! Fantasy Football (league here), Hat Trick and Mes Que Un Club are the only teams with any real shot at the title with basically a 200 point lead going into the final 4 match days of the season. They’re currently only 21 points apart, though, so good luck to both of you and may the best team win. If you’re interested in how I’m doing, I’m in 10th now, having climbed up from 13th thanks to Sergio Aguero having a good match. FCBASH, eat my dust. My new goal is merely to end up in the top 10, which would be pretty great and then next year I’ll make a run for the title (and probably end up 75th out of 56 or something).

Okay, have your say in the comments, as always.

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. We should probably change the options to YAYA and Booo Weligton rather than thumbs up or down.

      And maybe add a third: Nooooorrrrbbbbeeeeeeerrrrrtuuuuuuuuusssssss

    2. No Peanuts? 🙂

      That refree also refreed the Spain vs Russia match in the 2008 Euro’s semifinal which Spain won 3-0, if that is any indication. Xavi scored in that match so IMO he will score our 1st goal vs Inter 😀

  1. Sport says that the intensity of Abidal’s work away from the group leaves little doubt that he will be included in the starting XI against Inter. Good news.

    Oh, and a different BritPress report says that Krkic will be a makeweight in the Clichy deal. Ha! That’s even funnier.

  2. I am optimistic because of the referee. I think that Barca can play their game with this referee. They will be comfortable.

  3. LOL @ HOward Webb for the final.There had to be an english presence in the final somehow right?

  4. the referee for the 4-2 was Collina. I guess De Bleekere refereed the Chelsea game they won with 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. They just need to be focused. Pique and Alves picked up 2 non existent yellow cards against Inter, Pique for a foul where he had pulled back already and Alves for the dive that wasn’t.

  5. I snuck onto the inter offside forum and apparently maicon was almost fit to play atlanta and will def play us. they have no insight on the sneijder story though

  6. *

    think this is a great interview with Ibra, and it shows that the best is still yet to come from him. He is always 100% honest and upfront and never makes excuses, but also states in this interview that he is still adjusting to our gameplay and movement. I think for us to think he could just come in and completely adapt is a disservice to our system and style of play. Because by saying anyone can just plug in our system and perform at the same level that players like Xavi, Messi, and Iniesta have been learning their whole lives is to say that ANYONE can do it.

    But beyond that, he’s right, it’s just as if we lost 1-0, we can do this. We can show the world what remontada truly means. Man, if I could be in Camp Nou on Wednesday I would bring a bull-horn a full drum set and a gong to cheer our guys on.

    1. In addition to the bull-horn, full drum set, and a gong, I would get a very loud wistle, so if any Inter player touches the ball I would whistle.

  7. I still don’t see why Pep keeps choosing Busquets over the Yaya. I mean what does the guy have to do (or more appropriately, how many times does Busi have to screw up) for him to get a place in the starting XI?? The only way I can see us pulling ourselves out of this hole is with Yaya playing the whole game. Busi’s just not getting the job done.

    1. Kevin and Isaiah whos yer pick for lwf or stiker to come in over the summer??

    2. We don’t need a striker. For LW replacement duties, I would be looking seriously at Krkic. Seriously.

      I also like Silva a lot. A LOT. He’s also valuable midfield cover for Iniesta, should it come down to that. And Valencia have to sell. Buzz is that he’s signed, sealed and delivered to EE, but I don’t see that.

      Other possibilities are Suarez (can all those goals be fiction?), then I watched Huntelaar during that Milan match and thought “man, don’t trust Eredivisie” gaudiness, and I wouldn’t rule out the Ashley Young rumors. Where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.

      Foremost for us will be speed. Laporta and Txiki B will want to take care of all family business before they leave in June. Of course, teams won’t really be all that keen to deal that early.

    3. Speed on the field is also key. Hard position to fill. You hear many talking about Suarez and Di Maria but both play in light weight leagues. Silva pace may be prob and prob won;t score too many. Its easy to criticise henry until you look fo his replacement. And thats before you think of Gaucho. No Pressure for the newbie

    4. Imo, Silva is the only one that could make a quick transition and be very productive in our ball movement on the field (due to his play with la seleccion). However, I don’t think we necessarily need anyone. Jeffren, Pedro, and Krkic are the future of this club and I can see them growing up to be stars, bigger ones than they already are!

  8. Looking at run ins for the last matches of the season.


    Away to Villarreal
    Away to Sevilla


    Osasuna at home
    Away to Mallorca
    Bilbao at home (could vex with set pieces)
    Away to Maulaga

    On paper, they look to have the easier run-in. But I think that Bilbao can vex if they can get some set pieces, and Mallorca always plays hard at home. They will be battling for a European spot, Champions League qualifying if they can play out well. I don’t see Osasuna or Maulaga giving them much difficulty.

    With us, we’re caught in that dogfight for the last (real) European spot, between Mallorca, Sevilla and Villarreal. Right now Mallorca has that spot, with Sevilla two points back, and Villarreal another two back of Sevilla. Sevilla has Racing, us, Almeria and Pathetico. Villarreal has us, Almeria, Valencia and Zaragoza. Mallorca have Bilbao, EE, Depor and Espanyol.

    All have tough runs in, but it’s difficult to see Sevilla and Villarreal targeting our matches as a way to gain points.

    I think that if we successfully go through Champions League, that will give the lads a boost that will carry them past every remaining opponent. But I think that expecting EE to drop points just isn’t realistic, so we have to win out. Full stop.

    Just something to consider.

  9. yes he did reffer one barça vs chelsea match it wasn’t the 4:2 loss it was the 1:0 loss (2006) at the stamford bridge.

    accrording to de bleckeere did reffer 3 barça championsleaguematches.

    a win -> 3:1 against Newcastle United (2003)
    a draw ->0-0 Panathinaikos (2005)
    a defeat -> 0-0 Chelsea (2006)

    to be honest i can’t stand his style of reffering because of his wrong decisions in penalty situations etc.

    hopefully abidal’s gonna get well in time! we need him to destroy counterattacks.

    1. wow seriously got goose bumps from that. if we pull this off I think its the greatest feat this team will have accomplished hands down.

    2. Thanks Hilal. That was great. But you should have warned us that it might make us cry.

  10. I think we will see two big signings this summer. One before Laporta leaves (he will want to leave his mark) and another after the new pres is elected.

    According to most sources I have read, Laporta wants to secure Villa. Whether or not they will succeed I am not too sure, but I think they will try.

    Then whoever the new pres is will make a serious push for Cesc. Dont think we will get him, nor do i think we need him, but I am sure they will make some absurd offer. Once that fails they will sign some alternative. I dont see a new pres coming in and not making a big signing. Nor do I see Laporta leaving without one final stamp on the team. Whether or not these are good things only time will tell I guess.

    With regards to Villa, I think he would be great. Not sure why you think he is overrated Kxevin; he has consistently scored 20+ goals a season at a team that has not consistently played well. He also has an excellent record at international level (36 goals in 55 apps). I am also sure he can fit in our system. Dont think he will necessarily be a LW. We have all seen how much Pep likes to modify his tactics. We barely ever play a straight 4-3-3 anymore so I am positive that Pep can utilise Villa to great effect. Villa and Ibra up front with Messi sitting in the hole behind them. How is that not mouthwatering?!?! That is as complete a forward line as we could ever get. We would literally have everything. We have plenty of effective wingers so I dont think we need to go and buy another, but we dont have a particularly effective replacement for Ibra (Bojan just aint there yet, as much as i like him). Plus it gives us SERIOUS depth up front and gives Pep a plan A and B, hell even a C.

    Oh and if Bojan is going to be the next Villa there is no better mentor than the man himself. I def dont think we should sell Bojan who has tremendous potential and is still really young. He has a lot of growing to do yet and with Villa being 28 in two years he will be in the decline and Bojan will be much better equipped to take over.

    You have to admit, it makes a whole lot of sense 🙂

    1. I really, really like David Villa, but I hope we don’t end up paying the ~$50 million price quoted last summer. That’s just too much for a 28 year old striker.

      It depends a lot on how much pressure the banks put on Valencia to sell. They are pretty much guaranteed a place in the Champions League next season, which means more income. Valencia may think that by keeping Villa they will be more likely to stay in the Champions league in future seasons. I think it’s more likely that they will try to sell Silva.

    2. What I mean by Villa being overrated, is that I don’t think his up side with our club is as immense as people think. I also don’t think he’s worth 50m. Valencia wanted that last season, there’s no reason to think they won’t want the same amount this season.

      I think that risk is worth reward. I’d rather sign a winger who can play striker than a striker who can play the wing. Two different sets of instincts, but without width, we’re screwed. That’s one reason I hope Abidal is back for the Inter match. He has been so effective going forward recently, because he has the pace to get back. His passing has improved, and his crossing has improved.

      A real left winger would be the business. And as someone else noted, and I will repeat, people love to hate Henry, but they won’t realize his value to the club until he’s been replaced.

    3. a certain quicksilver little Russian has also not given up on the dream: \\

      should Silva become unavailable, why not? he’s just as versatile and scores more goals….

    4. I don’t want Arshavin to come here. He’s hasn’t been in great form this year, part of which may be due to injuries and depression over Russia not qualifying for the world cup. However, I’ve heard a lot of Arsenal fans complaining about his attitude and workrate on the pitch, two important factors for us.

      He also is older than Villa, and would leave us with the same problem that I see if we got Silva: we wouldn’t have a ready-for-big-games powerful centre forward in case Ibra is unavailable. Arshavin can’t play centre forward as Wenger found out this year.

      Arshavin also has a nasty habit of publicly criticizing his team and teammates, which I can’t see going over well with Pep. I also really don’t like his comments about women, it’s nothing to do football I know, but I would find it embarrassing to have such a player at Barça.

      So in summary, I vote no 🙂

  11. Would someone mind explaining the grammar of “Ens hi deixarem la pell” if it’s not too much trouble?

    I guess what I don’t understand is why the “ens” is included. It seems like the verb is “deixar-se?” But isn’t the catalan verb for “to leave” just “deixar?” And if that is the case, then wouldn’t the direct translation be “to us we will leave our skin there” because “ens” would be acting as an indirect object pronoun?

    I realize that the verb is probably diexar-se; could someone explain why that is the case?
    Or is it an idiom/expression and I should just leave it alone?

    1. As someone on this blogged once aptly said, “Why the hell would we want another midget?”

  12. The ‘ens’ indicates the indirect object (here, the person ‘indirectly’ affected by the skin-leaving). Iberian languages often resort to indirect object pronouns to indicate personal ownership, since personal articles (like clothes and stuff) and body parts (like heads and hands) are usually modified by definite articles (“the”).

    This is why, for all of us still haunted by nightmares of endlessly conjugating the verb ‘to be’ for Señora Smith’s high school Spanish class, you will still say automatically: ‘Me duele la cabeza’.

    Sorry it’s finals time ’round here and I can’t shake the pedagogy.

    1. I repeat …. SoMa for President! 😀 Catalan and Spanish function that same way with the oh, so vexing “the.”

      Which I keep forgetting in my Catalan convo exercises. Argh! 😀

    2. if the hunky spanish soccer junky ends up a bit clunky, call on me to be the monkey…

  13. With all due respect to Bojan and Jeffren, but I don’t think they will develop into great caliber players that we have playing now. For my money, I would take David Silva any day instead of Villa and Cece. I think we have major issues on the left side… with Henry leaving, Insiesta hurting, and Abidal getting older.

    1. Silva would provide great coverage for Iniesta/Pedro, but he doesn’t help if Ibra isn’t available. Bojan may in time become a powerful centre forward, but for now he’s better as a second striker or winger.

      If Silva is signed I hope Henry stays too.

  14. Transfers… new presidents… money… time… next season… the world cup…

    NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING matters, but Wednesdays game!!

    Força Barça!

  15. My stream of thoughts before Xerex match:

    wednesday … wednesday … wednesday … Oh ya xerex! Right … Right … Xerex … WEDNESDAY!!!!

    My thoughts now:


  16. NOOOOOOOO!!! Where is the preview !?! 😀

    I have to go to university now, and I thought I could read a brilliant preview just before leaving. Now I’ll have to wait until I’m back 🙁

    PS: Oh… sry. I just realized it’s Tuesday. I’m already on Wednesday and thought “wtf? No review yet?”

  17. where do they come up with this stuff??


  18. This is a first for me, and a testament to the immense popularity of our club. You can’t find a home shirt ANYWHERE. No I’m not looking, as I already have short, long and European winners versions. But I’ve seen a few posts here searching for shirts, and got to thinking.

    It’s crazy. Official online shop doesn’t list anything except infant sizes. Kitbag (official order fulfiller) has none. Subside Sports has XXL only. Even the spectacularly suckalicious N. American shop has youth sizes only.

    I kind of admit to being blown away by this.

    1. Messi, Ibra, Henry, P! – All the forwards
      Xavi, Marquez, Alves – Any freekick takers
      Keita/Busi/Toure – Box to box players
      An honorable mention – Pique can also totally take it.

      In the end it is Pep and Tito that will decide the order.

      Any of the forwards/free kick takers/box to box players with an eye towards the goal can take penalties.

      Finally a word on Valdes – aka Man Wall. I expect him to make the penalty blocks to take us through.

    2. Ibra, messi,xavi, alves and henry.

      if it goes to penatlies probably pedro (if not ibra) will be subbed for henry

  19. SoMa brewing up a fresh pot of Mourbho over here.

    So much of soccer is a confidence game.

    Sometimes the line-up says less than the sub like Saturday last:

    Kaká for Gago and the Madridistas go ga ga. Ciao ciao, Pelly.

    Zaragoza goes down a man in minute 60 and they sub Anders with … Uche? They may have lost los Milito but damn they’ve still got moxie!

    When Chigrinsky is stinky Pep pulls Márquez … make no mistake it’s not Messi but the presence of Piqué that settled that score.

    But Barçabloggers, take heart: MouMou has Inter in lockdown ’til tomorrow and Moratti is talking trash about refs. Barça meantime stays cool: Ibra says it’s just 1-0 (which it is, and if it were would we be sweating the 2-0 tomorrow?); Piqué wants Inter to regret stepping cleats in Camp Nou; and in and out of the locker room there’s no Sant Jordi suffering like last week.

    Remember Roma … we weren’t even supposed to BE there that day.


    1. SoMa, I watched the match. Chygrinsky dwelled on the ball too long in the first half. I think there was probably a “Pep” talk in the dressing room. In the second half Chygrinsky released the ball much sooner than he did in the first half. I would like to give credit to Chyggy for that. He also made several good plays from the back.

  20. everytime i see that “ens deixarem” thing i keep thinking back to when i took my little sister to this exhibit:




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