For Sid Lowe, this whole remuntada business smacks of desperation on Barça’s part and I can understand where he’s coming from, but as a cule, as a guy who has dreamed about this goddamned game for 3 straight nights now, watching the hype videos and nervously pacing about my living room while El Cant blast from my speakers (hold on while I play it again–ah, that’s better, thanks for holding), this campaign really does it for me. Ens hi deixem la pell actually means something, jo crec en la Remuntada makes me feel that things. So, whatever desperation this reeks of, whatever fear we’re exuding, whatever instability others see in our eyes, I accept it as part of an emotional rollercoaster that will not end until long after tomorrow’s final whistle. And I accept it as a fan, as someone emotionally invested in what happens to a sphere on a field in Spain. So be it.
CL Preview: Barça – Inter Milan, Wednesday 2:45pmEST FSC/FSE
We all know the score. We all know the stakes. We all know that regardless of the outcome, we will love this club, this team, and this season. Life is too wonderful at 87 points to worry about failures because they’re non-existent, even if we end this season trophy-less–this is a wonderful time to be a Barça fan and we’re in the semis of the Champions League for the third consecutive year, we won it all last year, and we’re still playing beautiful football that makes most people swoon. And that’s what I expect out of the squad tomorrow, for 90 minutes (120 if necessary): love of the game, giving it your all, playing beautifully.
Of course I want us to win, of course I want to crush all comers and bring home the bacon in silverware form, but I want to do it the way we know how and I want to do it against the best in the world opposition the world has to offer so that no one can dispute that we did it the right way and did it looking good. I know the type of hole we’re in and I know how tough this is going to be, but we have the opportunity to right the wrong, to play above their game plan and our mistakes last week. They were better than we were last week and this week, at our home, in front of our fans, we can be better than they can be and I think we will do it.
We have never been in this position before under Guardiola. We have never been this close to winning the Champions League in the Bernabeu, of repeating as European Champions, of reaching what many think would be sporting immortality. I do not know how the team will react, but they are all promising to play their hearts out, to leave everything on the field and that is all you can expect of them, of anyone. Inter, of course, will be doing the same.
Will Wesley Sneijder play? Will he still be sidelines by the injury sustained during the Atalanta match on Saturday or is he perfectly fit and this is all mind games by Mourinho? Is Maicon, who has been included in the squad list, going to play or will he be sidelined again by the tooth damage he sustained against Messi’s shoulder on Tuesday? Who cares. It doesn’t matter who they field, that won’t change our approach one bit, I don’t think, just the circumstances. Obviously Sneijder and Maicon’s absences would be a huge loss for Inter, but like I said, to be the best you have to beat the best and I do not fear them. I do not fear anyone, not with this team Barça has put together. Not even without Puyol, Iniesta, and probably Abidal.
Bring. It. On.
Maybe we’re not as good as we were last year, maybe we’re better; I do not know, but I know that it is time to put aside the critical lens with which I generally approach these matches. It is time merely for the emotional and the passionate, that which resides within our hearts. It is time to crush. It is time to play. It is time to fight, to bleed the colors, to wear the scarves and jerseys, jackets, and shorts, regardless of the weather. It is time for the fucking remuntada.
Who we will field is, of course, of interest. I think we’ll go with the lineup I advertised yesterday: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Abidal, Busi, Xavi, Keita, Pedro, Ibra, Messi, with the only question mark being Abidal or Maxwell (if Abidal is sufficiently recovered, in he goes). Despite his mammoth game against Xerez, I just don’t see Yaya getting the nod. It’s a sad state of affairs when that is true, especially after Busi’s most recent performances, but Busi is Guardiola’s #1 DM and unless Yaya takes Keita’s spot, it’s to the bench for the Ivorian. We also don’t know what happens in practice, so yeah, who knows what’s going on with all of the tactical innovations and whatnot that Guardiola is throwing at his boys right now.
And there will be battles. Oh there will be blood. And then some. Messi vs Lucio and Walter Samuel, Xavi vs Sneijder and Cambiasso, Milito vs Milito. There will be fouls and there will be cards and there will be some disputes with the ref, but on the whole this is going to be a good one. We’ll be attacking like you’ve rarely seen before from us because, well, we have no choice but to go for the throat from the beginning. We’ll pass-and-move like always, but the rhythm will be turned up a notch and that’s up to Xavi to really control. We need to go at them, but we have to do without being reckless, without being caught on the break. They won’t need to come out and play, so I don’t think they will, but we’re going to make them play, we’re going to beat them fair-and-square and all the questions about Milito’s offside goal, about Alves’ card in the box instead of a penalty, are going to go away in the stupor of excitement and joy that descends when you overcome the struggles you were scared about before.
Official Prediction: 2-0. I think we do it with goals from Messi and a winner by Ibra. Yeah, I said it. God that made me nervous to write, though.
TV: In the US, this match will be on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español
Time: 8:45pm Local/Barcelona time; 2:45pm EST/NYC time; check your local time here.
Weather: 64F (~17.5C), clear skies, 0% chance of rain. Should be a perfect night for a game.
Ref: Frank de Bleekere. Let’s hope for a well-reffed game with no controversies. Inter fans are freaking out about this because de Bleekere’s previous calls against them, but I don’t think they have anything to worry about if they, you know, don’t foul us. Yay.
I’m not even sure what to write about anymore. My mind is a mental mush, with random bits of El Cant del Barça slipping out now and then. Speaking of, let’s dive right in:
Viiiiiiisccaaaaa eeeelllll Baaaaaarrrrçççççaaaaa!
Again, I’m lost here. I’m planning on heading to Woodwork with my penya to watch this. I’m planning on nervously shaking for about 48 hours starting, um, a day ago. My heart randomly races when I think of all the things that could happen. I am so unstable that I’m having trouble being verbose. Holy hell! Do you want to run the liveblog? RUN THE LIVEBLOG FOR US! All hands on deck! Time to shine! Email me at team[at]barcelonafootballblog[dot]com and I’ll set you up.
Crackovia will save us:
We are so doing this.