Hmmm….wonder what these two are talking about? I’d rather imagine that it isn’t the price of xocolata in Barcelona.
For anybody who’s been living under a rock the past few days, it’s international friendly time, and we have been gutted. The list of players who have been called to serve their countries is a big’un: Ibrahimovic, Alves, Xavi, Busquets, Pique, Puyol, Valdes, Pedro!, Messi and Villa. Yes, that’s 9 of our starting XI. But we also have, in a week’s time, leg one of the Spanish Super Copa against a Sevilla side that will be looking to do what it did against us in the Copa del Rey last season.
So now what?
Pinto, you’d better be ready. As Princess Leia said, “You’re our only hope.” Let’s assume that he got the pre-season jitters out against the K-Leaguers, and is ready to be the keeper who warmed our hearts during Copa matches and instances where he subbed for Valdes. He’d better be.
After the lengthy conversation pictured above, I would bet the house that Muniesa will be called to take part, in a back line that will probably look like this: Correia, Muniesa, Milito, Abidal (not called for France). El Mundo Deportivo suspects the same thing, given that Guardiola and Muniesa looked to be going over formations, movement and expectations. Is the kid ready? He’d better be, since the only player that Sevilla will lose is Jesus Navas.
While I might not go to war with this back line, I’m fairly confident, given that Guardiola will probably play as defensive a match as we have ever seen, planning to tread water and not get too hammered in the first leg, then going for it when the big boys return for the second leg, where we are also at home, and will be spoiling for a fight. I’m confident in Milito, Adriano and Abidal. Muniesa will be the question mark, and he will be playing in an area favored by Kanoute, who gives experienced defenders fits. We’ll see.
We picked up a bit of luck here in that Del Bosque showed a shard of compassion in not calling up Iniesta. And Jonathan Dos Santos has had his request not to take part in the friendly honored by his federation. Whew! Whether this is club committment or fallout from the World Cup hooraw is immaterial at this point. You can bet the summer home (the main home is already on the table) that he will be starting against Sevilla. Will Iniesta be ready? That is, will Guardiola risk a dude who has only just recovered from being singed by the sun during his beach outings (“We shouldn’t have gone during the day!”) in Iniesta? He might see a bit of time, but not the whole match.
We also have, ready for midfield duty, Andrade and Keita, as well as Thiago Alcantara who, last I checked hasn’t been called by anyone, though Jeffren and Krkic have, for the U-21s.
I don’t want to sound like I’m crossing the streams and inviting Armageddeon here, but if we can’t deal Hleb and there’s nothing in sight, might we see a Belorussian sighting? Extremely doubtful, but stranger things have happened. I’m expecting a midfield trio of Andrade, who has looked better in the attack than at left back at times, Keita and Dos Santos, two veterans with a kid, and don’t forget that Adriano in his capers up and down the field, will in effect be acting as a fourth midfielder, as well.
I don’t know what the hell we’re going to do. No Pedro!, no Krkic, no Jeffren. Henry is a Red Bull now, which leaves us with….
ZubiZa says “At Barca, we never give up anything.” Cool. But the Mexico/Spain friendly takes place a mere three days before the first leg on August 14. So to reasonably expect players to turn around that quickly and be useful to their club teams is absurd. Even in mid-season, that’s a huge ask.
So what are we going to do in attack? Normally we come at clubs with a three-forward attack. We have the likes of Jonathan Soriano, Edu Oriol and Benja (Benjamin Martinez, who apparently has decided that not only will he dispense with a last name, but the bulk of his first name). There’s also Nolito, who hasn’t looked bad against sub-standard opposition in pre-season and Cristian Tello, who hasn’t knocked me out but I haven’t seen enough of him to be able to judge.
I would bet against those sudden knocks players pick up that rule them out of duty for friendlies, but have the exact duration that will find them ready for the next club match. The timing is just too sucky. “Um, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has picked up a knock, that will probably keep him sidelined for four days.” So we’re going to be makeshift city, kids. Here’s how I see it:
Correia Muniesa Milito Abidal
Keita Dos Santos Andrade
Oriol Martinez Soriano
I can also see Victor Sanchez getting some time, as well as any one of about 937 Atletic players. All bets are off on this one.
P.S. Request. Let’s keep this a Fabregas-free post, please. The decision is made, it’s done and there’s nothing more to say. We have some silver to battle for, starting oh, about NOWWWWW!