SuperCopa Preview: Barça – Athletic Bilbao; Sunday 4pmEST

Don’t forget to read the most recent posts: Kevin’s news review, my discussion of the fantasy football league, and Hector’s breakdown of the Gamper goal.

Hopefully this is the final time I have to write this during the 09-10 season: This game will not be broadcast in the US on TV. Ugh. We’ll have to webstream it like usual, though it should be on La Sexta, so try to stream it there, but don’t worry, you can always tune in here for the liveblog.

Because this is the second leg, Barcelona enters this match 2-1 to the good, with those 2 goals being very valuable away goals. Not that that changes the fundamental approach for Barça, who will always look to win every match. A draw, any draw, is good enough, but Guardiola will not want to leave it to chance, to the odd bounce to pick up a small piece of silverware for the cabinet.

So we’ll attack and will probably even start a very serious lineup that includes Messi and Ibrahimovic, which would be a good idea, I think, ahead of 5 days rest between now and the UEFA SuperCup, especially if Messi and Alves are going to be out for the first league game.  So expect everyone who can start, to start. It is also to Barça’s advantage that Bilbao played a Europa League qualifier on Thursday (winning 3-2 at San Mames against Norwegian club Tromsø IL). Yes, Barça played a game on Wednesday, but it was a friendly in which a thousand subs were used so the regular starters either didn’t play (Xavi, Valdes, for instance) or didn’t play more than a half (Messi) so everyone should be pretty fresh.

Don’t expect to see Iniesta or Marquez play because they haven’t regained full fitness yet and Guardiola won’t risk them in a match that only allows him 3 subs (A real match? Holy shit, the year is starting!), but here’s the lineup I think will be out there:

Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Henry, Ibrahimovic, Messi

I can quite easily see Busi making a start, but I’m going to hedge my bets and sa he’ll be a sub, as will Pedro! (especially if we get a big lead — by the way, he’s now #17 since he’s an official member of the first team squad). There’s no squad list, so I can’t confirm who will be available, but Henry and Abidal have been training normally the last day or two.  If Bilbao want a chance of winning, they’ll have to start their best 11, which I think includes Yeste and Javi Martinez.

So then, we get to the part you’re all dying to hear, the official prediction: 2-1 Barça, both goals by Messi. There, I said it. It’s fated.

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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.

98 Comments

  1. Andrew
    August 22, 2009

    Let me be the FIRST to say, if it wasn’t Barcelona then I wouldn’t be watching TV on a 12 inch screen rather than a 65 inch HD TV.

    Let’s get these games televised already!

    And first.

  2. poipoi
    August 22, 2009

    I hope Ibra scores and shuts some EE mouths

  3. August 22, 2009

    I am Hectorizing myself so often recently. 3 times in a row in the previous 3 posts. Though the guys saved me in some occations later on.

    I would love to see that starting line up…On a big screen!

    And I hope to see Keita as a holding midfielder while Yaya plays beside Xavi.

  4. poipoi
    August 22, 2009

    I’d love to see that also Ramzi… I’d go for Busquets instead of keita but yaya up. The Yaya up!!. I guess Sergi will have to play there while the African Cup of Nations is taking place.

  5. August 22, 2009

    Ramzi and poipoi, I do think that if Yaya plays up, it will be Busi out there rather than Keita. It would be great to see The Yaya get 90 minutes as an attacker and not have to worry about the defense.

  6. August 22, 2009

    True Isaiah, Naturally Busquets is the best option for this equation. Even though I believe Keita is still better when it come to tactical discipline and positioning. but trusting Sergio there and give him more chances and time to improve is a must.

  7. Maximus
    August 22, 2009

    I had previously stayed out of the ‘Mes que un club’ discussion because I am not Spanish, Catalan or versed in the matter, so I know this is late but…

    Today though, something occurred to me. If it wasn’t for FC Barcelona I would never have known of Catalunya/Catalonia and the history surrounding the region. So regardless of what the phrase is now used for…to me..it still is more than a club.

  8. poipoi
    August 22, 2009

    if he plays up tomorrow I’m gonna count (shouting) the balls he steals

  9. August 22, 2009

    Wow!!!

    Apparently it looks like Caparrós has already thrown in the towel for this game. He didn’t even call up a boatload of their best players.

    Not only Ocio and Amoberieta (injured) but also Susaeta, Yeste, Javi Martinez, Muniain (he’s a 16 year old prodigy but not ready for the big time just yet apparently) and De Marcos (their goal scorer and MOTM against us in the first leg) due to technical decision.

    WTF. That’s about most of their starting midfield including their best playmakers (Martinez and Yeste) not to mention a starting fullback and centerback.

    That looks like a white flag to me but we can’t let our guard down. Its still a final and the Basques are proud enough to give us a good fight.

  10. Alexinho
    August 22, 2009

    In that XI prediction, it’s so weird not seeing the now-so-familiar “Henry-Eto’o-Messi,” but I’m getting used to it. I expect Ibra to bag his first for a good one-nil.

    Where is Iniesta? Is this not the injury aggravated in the Champion’s League final (in which he looked fully fit despite the fact he wasn’t)? That’s three months carrying a niggling injury. Of course he has a good season coming up and given his age, all likelihood says he will have at least five good seasons from here on. Unless.

  11. August 22, 2009

    Thats a strange news Hector. Do they have any games in eurp cup? Because that may explain it all…

  12. UAI
    August 22, 2009

    GOAL is saying that our Muslim players, (Yaya, Abidal, Keita) will delay their ramadan fasting. I think it varies from person to person whether/how much fasting takes out of you in training/games.
    Interestingly, real’s muslim players (Benzema, L.Diarra, M.Diarra) will be fasing with the help of the staff. I wonder how decisions about stuff like this are arrived at between players and management

  13. yogi
    August 22, 2009

    We will win tomorrow and also play with our strongest line up which needs to spend some time together in the field. Surprised about Bilbao decision to leave out so many of their key players.

  14. BA
    August 22, 2009

    i miss Don Andres. be great to see that little guy again when he comes back.

  15. August 22, 2009

    Ramzi-

    Bilbao are on treacherous ground for their Europa League spot (I still think of it as the UEFA Cup) having won but given up 2 away goals in a 3-2 home victory over Norwegian team Tronso. The second leg is effectively next week but not until Thursday.

    You could well be right that Caparrós is saving is ammunition for that game since it has actual financial implications for his team but a Sunday to Thursday stretch doesn’t seem too bad or maybe we are used to it and Bilbao isn’t. I don’t know. It just seems weird to throw in the towel on a one goal difference for the Super Cup.

  16. Corrine
    August 22, 2009

    woah i just read how bilbao are resting up to 8 key players. they travel to play tromso this thursday with a 3-2 home advantage. wonder what team we’ll roll out now?

  17. Corrine
    August 22, 2009

    well that’s not too big of an ‘advantage’ but i thought they’d be in a more worrying position to leave out players like that. they had pretty good odds of beating us too

  18. Ciaran
    August 22, 2009

    Qualifying for the Europa League would be worth more money than winning the Super Cup would be.
    Add to that, the fact that they don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of beating us and it would be pointless in risking their chances in Europe.

  19. Alexis
    August 22, 2009

    It is a win-win situation for Bilbao.
    They rest their important players for Tromso. The young ones will play with enthusiasm and, should they win the trophey, they will be heroes. Otherwise, it will be a great experience for them.
    And if we beat the hell out of them, then they (and the EE press) will say that we abused of a few poor kids.

  20. Alexis
    August 22, 2009

    Hopefully, the young Basque lads won’t be fully versed on how to break blaugrana legs!
    If they play with Bilbo “B”, we should then play with our young squad.

  21. Helge
    August 22, 2009

    Well, I can understand the decision. As Ciaran said, from an economic point of view the Europe League is much more important. And you shouldn’t forget that Bilbao HAS to score twice in the Camp Nou to have any chance of lifting the Super Cup. So, thinking back to last season, I’d also wave the white flag in their place 😉

  22. Jnice
    August 22, 2009

    What I really hope to see tomorrow is:

    Messi and Ibra starting

    Yaya playing up next to Xavi

    Jonathan getting some minutes

  23. OhYes
    August 22, 2009

    It would be best to start the A squad since this is practically the last chance or the team to gel together before the start of the season. There’s a game against Shakhtar on the 28th, and the first game of the season is against Sporting Gijon.

    The A team can’t play against Shakhtar since there is not enough rest between that game and the next, and playing a team of youngsters against Sporting may seem like a good idea (and I think they’d have a good chance) but is it good to sacrifice a game this early in the season?

    Plus, I think the B team (with Messi and Alves) has a decent chance against Shakhtar.

    My prediction: Ibra scores two goals for a 3-0 victory! With…Xavi adding the 3rd goal. 🙂

  24. poipoi
    August 22, 2009

    2-1: min 87 and 93 by Pedro!, Henry scores in his own goal in the 1st half … just kidding.

  25. ElShowDeJason
    August 22, 2009

    i say we start the A team, let ibra get some goals and confidence in.

    if we have a nice lead by the 2nd half, take out messi, put in bojan, so the Kid can get in on the goals/confidence

  26. Helge
    August 22, 2009

    Wow, you all seem to be quite confident. I’m happy as soon as we’ve won this cup and Zlatan has made some nice one-twos with Messi or even better scored his first goal!

    Unfortunately I can’t watch the match tomorrow 🙁
    I’ll have to wait for the UEFA SuperCup to see Messi and Ibra in action again.

  27. Ciaran
    August 22, 2009

    My XI:
    – – – – – – – – Valdes – – – – – – – – – –
    Alves – Puyol – Pique – Maxwell
    – – – – Xavi – Yaya – Busquets – –
    Messi – – – – Ibra – – – – – – Bojan

    My prediction: 3-0. One each from the front three starters.

  28. August 22, 2009

    what does it mean to be hectorized?

  29. ElShowDeJason
    August 22, 2009

    Milan won today. Ronaldinho made some exquisite passes, Pato scored 2.

  30. August 22, 2009

    I’m certainly more confident with the absences from Bilbao but by no means relaxed. We’re always one bad tackle away from losing a Xavi or a Messi for a long time. That’s one thing. The other is what Alexis said. The Basques are proud and they will fight hard nonetheless. Overconfidence is a real danger against then.

    That said. I agree with OhYes that the first team still has yet to play a full on “License to Kill” game and the real games are already about to start. Knowing Pep, he’ll play full on A Teams on both tomorrow’s game and the European Supercup. The Sporting game will be interesting and dangerous. We’ll be a little winded and no Messi.

    I am also worried about Messi’s Brazil game. You guys want to see how Dunga’s Brazil plays Messi? This was the first leg of the WC Quals they are playing now. It was in Brasil and Messi got an ovation afterwards. He deserved a goal. Gutsy performance and another of the many reasons that I hate what Dunga has done with Brazil. So much talent so as to be able to play such beautiful football and yet they play like this when they come upon an equal side. They are now the South American Italy circa 2006. So sad.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxcLUAZ_rXA

    So yeah, cross your fingers that he comes back in one piece.

  31. ElShowDeJason
    August 22, 2009

    Anyone hear about the Mexican league adopting Argentina’s usage of FK indicators?

    When a free kick is going to be taken, and 10 yards are asked for, the referee takes out an aerosol can and marks a line in front of the ball, measures the 10 yards, and then marks the ground, so that the jackass defense wont keep stepping forward.

    I was literally jumping for joy when i saw this instituted today. The first freekick that benefitted from this hit the cross bar.

    I hope that this will make its way to Europe, because I’m tired of seeing FKs hitting the wall.

    (oh, and the marks on the field fade away quickly after being stepped on, so the entire field wont end up all marked up!)

  32. August 22, 2009

    I follow Argy football relatively close. That spray was awesome last season. It was funny to see so many yellow cards handed out in the beginning as players ignored it but after a little while receiving yellows they got the message.

  33. ElShowDeJason
    August 22, 2009

    yeah, i figured you’d know what i was talking about Hector.

    from what i hear, the Argy players are conditioned now, and the spray is now used when needed…

  34. libidoairbag aka txikidracula aka tbss
    August 22, 2009

    been lurking this site for a minute…made aware of it’s existence through pep’s fcbtransfers, but never gave it much heed. i like what i’ve seen recently, especially your posts, hector. devil’s in the details.

    i hear that kxevin dudes a monk fan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRUWtrgTpcs
    fuck yeah!

  35. Kxevin
    August 22, 2009

    UAI (cough!postbeforethisonementionstheRamadanthingcough!)

    😀

    Alexhinho, Iniesta was on target to recover, then picked up a stomach virus that pushed back his recovery a bit. Then he was exceptionally shaken by the Jarque death, which put him even further behind schedule.

    But he’s on course to be on target for the season, etc. I’d rather give him the time to heal now, when we won’t need him. Really, I can’t see us needing him for Sunday, or the UEFA match, or Sporting Gijon, frankly.

    So let’s get him hale, hearty, rested and fully recovered. He’s having repetitive injuries, which means that he’s rushing back too soon.

    Nice that Bilbao is throwing in the towel. But in light of their fiscal reality, as has already been mentioned, it makes perfect sense. My guess is that Guardiola plays it tight and gets rest for key players, rolling into the UEFA SuperCup.

  36. Colby
    August 22, 2009

    Kevin, I think I remember you mentioning a couple of times in the past that you were learning catalan. Are you? and how so?

  37. Kxevin
    August 22, 2009

    I am indeed, Colby, by using various self-teaching courses, since my local Instituto Cervantes never has enough people to offer the Catalan course. 😀

    Between that and the CD and DVD that Genis sent me last year, I’m struggling through.

    Strangely, because their roots are similar, I find myself mixing French and Catalan sometimes.

  38. Kxevin
    August 22, 2009

    And welcome, libidoairbag (the short version of your handle). Ginormous TSM (Thelonious Sphere Monk) fan. Spent a weekend with the Complete Riverside Recordings box, just swapping LPs onto the platter, and reveling. In many ways, Monk’s music is like the way Barca plays, when at its best: Strange, beautiful and oh, so logical, stuff that makes you say “Where did that come from?”

  39. UAI
    August 23, 2009

    Heh my bad kevin, still adusting to the increased frequency of posts, I’m losing track of which ones I’ve seen. Still a tiny bit interesting that the EE dudes are doing it differently

  40. Jnice
    August 23, 2009

    I still think Pep will roll out a strong lineup with all the usual names. It would be a shame to take this match lightly and start off our season losing a trophy that was in our hands.

  41. Kxevin
    August 23, 2009

    The word on Jonas Gutierrez (a player we’ve been linked to) from someone who would know, a devoted Newcastle fan:

    “He’s a straight up winger. He’s playing on the left side in a 4-4-2 for Newcastle. Would be best in the top of a 4-3-3. He’s not a fill-in for Iniesta or Xavi. Lots of energy. Tracks back on D. His scoring touch is a little suspect, but he does all of the other work.

    Losing him would suck, because he’ll annihilate the Championship and guarantee Toon goes back up.”

  42. ElShowDeJason
    August 23, 2009

    I was going to make it a point to keep visiting, and maybe discussing at the ‘ol FCB offside, but every time I visit, i get discouraged.

    A whole post dedicated to slamming Marquez (how nice…) but, i liked that Kxevin, Isaiah, and other true fans came to his defense with logic.

    http://barcelona.theoffside.com/barcelona/barcelona-i-love-you-but.html#comments

    An quote from the new post:
    “Iniesta and Marquez are still out (get better Andres…Marquez…take your time).”

    Its fine if you do not like a certain player. Its even fine to vocalize your opinion about it. But I found the above incidents in poor taste especially considering that they were part of posts from the administrator (where some sort of professionalism is expected), and not part of comments from the readers.

  43. ElShowDeJason
    August 23, 2009

    Maybe I’m being overly sensitive? Thoughts?

  44. Kxevin
    August 23, 2009

    My Goal.com rant of the day:

    http://goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/08/23/1455901/puyol-not-convinced-about-barcelona-contract-renewal-report

    Now, this dimwitted bullshit was derived from an editorial in Sport, that was clearly misnterpreted by someone deficient in reading comprehension.

    The Sport piece is the writer speculating about all of this, not Puyol. Shame on you, Goal.com. But it isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last.

    Meanwhile, Guillem Balague is claiming that Eto’o was SMSing Mark Hughes about the Citeh deal, pleading for more time, after Citeh pulled out, citing the expiration of the club’s 48-hour deadline in doing the deal.

    Craziness.

  45. Kxevin
    August 23, 2009

    Mher, you’re all hooked up.

  46. Kxevin
    August 23, 2009

    I think it’s a different thing, Jason. As with anything, Iggy will get better with time. Hell, I stank worse than a rotting skunk corpse when I started, so my present mediocrity is a huge improvement. 😀

    A blog needs time to grow under a new author, and Iggy’s heart is in the right place. If you don’t dig what he’s doing, that’s one thing, and that’s okay. Heck, there are folks who don’t dig what we do over here. Horses for courses.

    But I will visit from time to time and support him, just because I like that someone has taken over the old joint, slapped some paint on the walls and made it their own. I wish him luck.

    Are you being overly sensitive? No. But we’ve had some pretty sharp barbs for players as well, particularly in the reviews. You try to be as unbiased as you can, but it’s still personal, as in your thoughts on the computer screen.

    And why the hell am I not in bed right now?

  47. ElShowDeJason
    August 23, 2009

    So, it appears that Cesc has a knock and can’t play against Celtic on wed.

    And it Cesc doesn’t play, Celtic’s chances of winning increase.

    And If Celtic win, Arsenal would be out of the Champion’s League.

    And if Arsenal are out of the CL, Fabregas will probably want to leave.

    And if Arsenal are out of the CL, they lose out on a lot of Cash.

    So, potentially, Arsenal could be both: In need of cash, AND, in possession of an unsettled Fabregas. hm… i forget how this is relevant to us… any ideas?

    (maybe I am being too optimistic, and reading into it too much, but we were also “reading too much” into Txiki’s milan trip, and then we got Ibra, so, you never know…)

  48. Jnice
    August 23, 2009

    I think you are reading into that too much, Jason. Don’t think there’s a chance he will come this year and I don’t mind that.

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