State of La Liga: Season Preview 09/10 [Update]

The dawn spreads its wispy fingers over the roofs of the neighboring buildings, sliding casually down Atlantic, splaying sideways at Flatbush. It dims the street light that shines through my window at that perfect angle where any attempt to block it from my eyes causes me to lose the air circulation in my room. I shift and try to sleep more, longer, anything to get rid of this feeling in my stomach. For once it’s not last night’s rounds with the boys that is causing me this insomnia. I look at my watch: 5 more hours to go. I roll over, pressing my face into the pillow. I roll over again, pulling the sheet over my legs then flipping it off moments later. I look at my watch: 4 hours, 59 minutes to go. I roll over, exhale.

“Stop tossing around, honey.” We love each other, of course, my girlfriend and I, but at 6am on Sunday morning, there is no such thing as empathy, just mumbled hatred. I try to hold still, but it’s too hot. I sit up and take a drink of water from the cup on the nightstand. I plop back down, exhale. “Stop tossing around, dickhead.”

I can’t explain it to her, she’ll never understand. It’s August 30 and I’m waiting as patiently as I can. I think she knows, intuitively, without having been reminded, that it’s Jornada 1, it’s el primer dia de la primera. It’s kickoff, it’s the beginning of another obsession. It’s gameday. No wonder I can’t sleep.

You say I can’t tell the future, but I already know how that morning will go, despite the distinct lack of FC Barcelona on that holiest of days. They play on Monday Night Futbol this time around, just this once, but that doesn’t make it any less special in the end. Or so I tell myself as the sun lifts off and kills any hope of falling back asleep. But you probably still don’t think I can tell the future. Well all right, let’s find out, once and for all, whether Professor Trawlaney college taught me anything about analysis and hypothesizing.

To the league, the protagonists of this preview:

The newbies, recently pulled from the purgatory that is La Segunda A, are Real Zaragoza, Tenerife, and Xerez. Of those three, Xerez might be in the worst state, despite being my FIFA 06 team, where we conquered everything in our paths because Barcelona didn’t want a new coach and the glory that went with hiring me. They floundered and Xerez, needing no capital influx to sustain its young and brilliant striker corps, went on to win La Liga in their first year “above ground” and no doubt would have walloped Europe as well, had FIFA 07 not come out. Reality is a bit harsher to the boys in blue and white, though they survived an RFEF inquiry into their finances that could have dropped them back to their previous league despite their championship year last year. It’s Xerez’s first season in La Primera and they’re probably not long for this top-flight thing.

But my first prediction is that Tenerife will finish 20th. Chalk it up, it’s as good as done. It’s not at all hard to predict that a team with few resources and no top-flight experience will be relegated, but I was wrong about Sporting Gijon last year, so there’s hope yet for the minnows. Not that you doubt me. They haven’t made significant moves in the transfer market (they lost Alfaro back to Sevilla is about all), which some might use to discredit their team, but what do you need a lot of reinforcements for if you’ve got a guy named Bellvis on your team? Sure, he couldn’t cut it at Valencia, but I’m guessing that’s because Soriano/Soler/whoever the crap is in charge over there couldn’t take another Butthead joke. Oh wait. Yeah, they’re going down.

19th will be Sporting Gijon, whose stay in the top flight has been far longer than anticipated despite their absurd goal differential (-32, worst in the league last year). They don’t have the financial sticking power that other clubs do and only an utter tank job by Betis, among others, saved their skins last year. History should be kind to these guys, but they cost me a drink last season (hey john!) and I cannot condone such insidious actions.

18th is the trickiest of them all, really, because the last day usually dramatically changes the landscape and a single goal can shift teams from third-to-last to 15th. Or vice-versa. Granted, last year was an insane year for the relegation zone, made all the more intruiging by a lack of competition at the top of the table, but still, there’s usualy something going on between 18th and 17th places, at the very least. Accusations of suitcases of money being handed out for good or bad performances will no doubt be replaced by delivery trucks of hair gel for Cronaldo, but I digress. I’m calling out Osasuna for this position, for falling into the gentle waters of the murky underworld. Sorry, guys, but life’s just not fair and your escape last year was but a small reprieve from the tightening noose. Think of it as your own, personal Incident Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (take that, David Pearce!).

Moving up the table, to the “sigh of relief” group, we find Valladolid, who will survive despite threatening to sink for almost the entire season, sort of like last year, except without Asenjo. They’ve got a guy named Pelé, so you can’t really argue with me on whether or not they’ll stay up. Nor can you argue with Manucho, who has claimed he’s as good as anyone else on the planet and has guaranteed some 350million goals this year while on loan from Manchester United–I think he actuallysaid 20 or was it 30? I’m going back to 350million.

Just above Valladolid, millimeteres from safety as well, is Xerez. Two promotion survivors? you ask. Well, yes, like last year, there will be teams willing to play worse than others.  I know they’ve got a crap budget and they’ve got kind of a wankery team, but they’ve added Victor Sánchez, so they have a solid utility player (to borrow a baseball term), but little else has come their way of any serious quality. Still, you have to like their chances against the above-mentioned clubs.

Almeria trundles in at 15 thanks to having to sell back Alvaro Negredo and his upteen number of goals, along with Bruno and Mané. They had a good run last year, but, like with Valladolid and Asenjo, you don’t lose a player of Negredo’s quality and do better. Goitom will help a bit, but not enough to push them anywhere near the top half of the table. Plucky, they certainly are, but I get to combine my fairly random antipathy towards Hugo Sanchez with a fairly nonpartisan guess that they’ll be near the bottom of the league. Yay, I suppose.

Athletic Bilbao, cup finalists last year, will do their part and stay up for another year, insuring that we’re all happy there’s further proof that you can, indeed, make a living by owning an all-Basque side. Llorente, ever the goal poacher, will score 50% of his teams total goals. Don’t act so surprised at such a statistical statement, it’s only going to be 25 goals. Yeste will have a lot more shots than that which will end up as souvenirs for some lucky kid walking by outside the stadium.

Real Zaragoza will get to stay up and handily — all the way in 13th — mostly because I fondly remember El Payaso Aimar and the Milito brothers rather than for any actual footballing reasons. None of those 3 players are still with Zaragoza, of course, but, among others, they have added Kalu Uche from Getafe and Jermaine Pennant on a free from some team in Blighty that dresses in red or something. Benitez is heart-broken about the loss, I’m sure. Lucky 13 is somewhere I’m sure most Zaragoza fans would be completely satisfied to trade their whole season for right now.

Poor Espanyol, who see their season begin to flounder even before the opening kickoff. Dani Jarque, blanqiazul to the core, got his wish and became captain, only to die a few weeks later (and 3 weeks before his girlfriend is due to have their first child). The tragedy that is a lost life is, of course, more important than a scuppered season (indeed a lifetime of scuppered seasons), but in a season preview, the importance of this loss to Espanyol cannot be overlooked. The team has quality — just as it did last year when they threatened to have the best stadium in all of La Segunda — but will it have cohesion without Jarque? They added Verdú from Depor, Ben Sahar from Chelsea, and Nakamura from Celtic, so they’ll stay up nicely, but won’t challenge for a European spot simply because Nakamura is getting older (as opposed to the typical player who gets younger). Match of the season, for them, will be hosting Barça at Cornella-El Prat. Sink or swim, our hearts go out to Jarque’s family and friends and I hope his child grows up to be captain of Espanyol (if it’s a girl, then I hope she’s the first female player for the team or something).

Dropping in at number 11 is Racing Santander, a team known mostly for not being all that good. They lost a boatload of people (Pereira, Zigic, Garay) and didn’t really get anyone in return (some guy named Crespo…but not that Crespo, unfotunately), but somehow I see them getting workmanlike wins against crap teams and getting hammered by the teams above them. Too good to go down, not good enough to break through. Ah well, call it intuition or whatever you’d like. There’s no rhyme or reason to this particular pick.

The crazies are out in force at Getafe again, enlisting The King (dude’s creepy) as well as some insane-ass ad agencies to tell us they’re going to run with the big dogs this year. They’re not. They’ll finish 11th and like it. They lost Uche to Valladolid and Granero to RM and then turned around and paid too much for Dani Parejo (€3m). They’re not big boys, but they’ll beat RM at least once, I’m sure, and garner that all-important top-half finish. For want of someone better to fill the spot, it’ll have to be Getafe.

Mallorca is basically the same team as last year, except with different personnel. What’s the point of betting against a team that, every single year, just goes about their business and ends up mid-table? So there you have it, Mallorca in 9th, not quite in striking distance of Europe, but never looking like dropping too near the relegation zone either. Ho-hum, guys, can’t you spice it up a bit? Where’s a retiring Eto’o when you need him for one last push towards the top 6? (La Liga Loca has them going down basically because they lost Juan Arango, so it’s really a competition to see who is most rightest, isn’t it?)

I’m going with Once-Super Depor in 8th. They haven’t lost all that many players of interest and also didn’t get anyone of interest, really. Omar Bravo is making the same rounds as always, shuttling between Mexico and Europe, confusing the crap out of me as to where he’s playing, why, and for how long. So…maybe he’s a part of their squad and totally maybe not. I’ve never been a huge Andres Guardado fan, but I have to admit that against most Liga competition, he can do damage with his pace alone. And that’s sort of how I see Depor as a whole: completely capable, but always overrated. So I’m going to overrate them and stick them in 8th.

The surprise of the season will be Malaga in 7th. And do you know why? It’s because they signed Xavi Torres from Barcelona and are going to find that they’ve got a pretty decent player on their hands. Obviously he’s not their only signing (Albert Luque still plays?), but he’s the one I’m most familiar with, so you’ll have to forgive me for focusing on Xavi Torres. If names meant anything, he’d be the greatest striker midfielder of all time. Unfortunately for the previously mentioned Pelé, they don’t.

There’s never a really good reason why Villarreal will do better than 12th, but they are always in contention throughout the year. Last year’s late-season self-destruction was a rarity and I don’t think it will be repeated. They added, among others, Nilmar and Jonathan Pereira, got a new coach (Ernesto Valverde), and lost Nihat and finally offloaded Guille Franco (end of contract and now he’s out of work despite starting for the Mexican national team). 80 league games and 15 goals does not a world-class striker make, but what do I know? I assume all 15 of those goals were against Javier Aguirre’s Atleti sides, making him seem irresistible as an attacking option. Now that he’s gone, there will be some serious ability up front for The Yellow Submarine, which is dangerous for everyone else. Expect Rossi to do good things this year, despite not having Altidore around to help him out — the problem is that everyone else above them has more talent than Villarreal. 6th, kiddies, is a decent showing in this league, just ask Malaga what they’d do for the Europa Cup spot

Oh no, Valencia in 5th? No Champions League for you, Messrs David, David, and Juan. The trio of Valencian midget attackers is a good one — a great one, you could argue — but the general incompetence that surrounds the inner workings of the club has seemed to have an effect on them quite similar to a tranquilizer. Why they’re so loyal to a team that occassionaly doesn’t pay them for a couple of months, I don’t know, but I suppose it’s commendable. I still think that it would have been better for Valencia to cash in on at least one of their stars to provide liquid assets, but if they’ve found a viable alternative, it’s somewhat hard to argue with that. The main reason for them sitting behind the other European contenders is their defense. They’ll score goals, they’ll have fun doing it, but they’ll also get manhandled a few times in defense. You read it here first, folks.

The eternal question of whether or not Atletico Madrid will choke and fail to make it to Europe seems to have been put to rest last year, but…And that’s the problem. There’s always a “but” at the end of a sentence where you predict Atleti will make the Champions League. Always. They’ve made all the typical moves you’d expect of Atleti in the transfer market, like keeping Forlan and Aguero, moving Leo Franco to Galatasaray and Coupet to PSG and picking up Sergio “the next Casillas” Asenjo (for €4m!), getting Jose Antonio Reyes back from Benfica, and they picked up some defensive reinforcements as well, all while offloading some inconsistent players like Banega (loan to Valencia), Maniche, and Seitaridis. You won’t find me arguing with their transfer policy, especially not when you consider how cheap their world-class goalie arrived for. So there you have it, Atleti will make spot number four and get into the Champions League…but…

After picking up Didier Zakora and bringing back Alfaro and De Mul from loans, Sevilla were basically the same team they were last year and I was going to drop them to 6th and then they went and got Alvaro Negredo from RM and beefed up their already pretty-damned-good front line. They’re still party-poopers for pretty much everyone else, simply because they’ve got gobs of quality (Kanoute, for instance) and everything to play for, but games against the men in blaugrana and the men in white will end in fat lips and L’s. Games at the Sanchez Pizjuan are always tough, of course, so look for a few key defeats there to paralyze others’ campaigns and boost Sevilla all the way to 3rd again.

It’s looking awfully similar at the top of the table, with Real Madrid coming in 2nd, despite their spending spree. If the focus is on winning the Champions League in the Bernabeu — and make no mistake about it, it is — then I think their league form will suffer to a certain degree. The talent on hand is massive, of course, but they are not yet a team ad have not yet found a way to win during the periods of strife that inevitably surface during a run at a title. That’s not to say that they won’t overcome such hurdles — actually that is precisely my prediction, what am I saying? Come the visit to the Camp Nou, they might be doing well, but they’ll leave with an L and a points deficit to the arch-rivals. I could probably devote a thousand words to their particular form of “transfer policy” but I’d rather move on, to something else. Like bird watching or smacking myself in the face.

And finally you have your champions: FC Barcelona. A 2-peat worthy of the ages, where a transfer policy that is a little bit more grounded will pay dividends. There are serious mountains to climb to win the league again, I know that, but my upcoming Barcelona-specific preview will take that on. Suffice to say that while our squad may not be mammoth, it is filled with quality from the top of Ibra’s shaggy hair to the bottom of Messi’s golden feet. It should be a battle for the ages when the two clasicos take place (no 2-6 drubbings this time around), but Barça will, in the end, come ou on top thanks to continuity and Guardiola’s Total Football philosophy. Pellegrini may be an excellent coach (and I have sung his praises before), but he has never worked in a situation like the cauldron that is the Bernabeu on a bad day. White hankies and whistles are par for the course in a 1-0 win. Imagine if there’s a 0-1 loss early in the season…Guardiola has dealt with this pressure and he will lead the 4-3-3 to stunning success once again. While the departure of Eto’o was sad for me, the arrival of Ibrahimovic has got me all atwitter in the brain, which is a wonderful feeling. I am anticipating what will happen, rather than dreading what we might not accomplish with such a talented squad. I have expectations, of course, but I am happy with last year to the point where I understand if there is no triplete waiting at the end of this go-round. Not that I’m not interested in it or don’t think we have the talent to achieve it, it’s just that I know how hard it is to repeat these things (it’s never been done, for instance).

I’m like a schoolgirl the day before prom: excited, nervous, happy, and, above all, I can’t wait to show off my pretty dress to all my friends.

The standings that you can hold me to in late May:

20. Xerez Tenerife
19. Sporting Gijon
18. Osasuna
17. Valladolid
16. Tenerife Xerez
15. Almeria
14. Athletic Bilbao
13. Real Zaragoza
12. Espanyol
11. Racing
10. Getafe
9. Mallorca
8. Depor
7. Malaga
6. Villarreal
5. Valencia
4. Atleti
3. Sevilla
2. Real Madrid
1. Barcelona

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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.

171 Comments

  1. Jnice
    August 27, 2009

    Txiki basically confirmed on Radio Marca that we have signed Chryg. All Spanish papers reporting that as a sort of farewell match, he will still take part in the Supercup match against us tomorrow. Don’t you guys think this is kind of weird? I imagine that he will be super duper nervous and will probably get judged by several sources rather unfairly.

  2. Flippy
    August 27, 2009

    Sid Lowe said we are doomed if Xavi and Messi our out at crucial times, but what he forgot to say is that Real Madrid is doomed if they have Kaka and Ronaldo out at crucial times…

    I question Real Madrid’s “depth”: Who is going to replace Ronaldo if he gets injured? If Sneijder and van der Vaart are leaving, who is going to replace Kaka if he’s out? Which is a worse step down, Ramos to Arbeloa or Alves to Puyol? Is a balanced midfield one that contains 3 DMs (Lass, Diarra, Gago), 2 wingers (Ronaldo, Robben), 2 CM (Granero, Guti), and 1 AM (kaka)? Are Drenthe and Marcelo good enough? How do you keep 4 good strikers happy and playing minutes when there are usually 1 or 2 slots? Albiol used to be called Albi-own-goal by Valencia Offside. Is Garay world-class? How about Metzelder? Pepe is suspended for the first 6 games, which include two crucial games against Sevilla and Villarreal. How do you know he won’t do something stupid again?

    Other things would include keeping all players happy, keeping the fans happy, and avoid chaos and confusion. What happens if CR falls short of expectations? You can’t bench him, because he cost 94m. What if van Gol manages to fight his way to a starting role? You have to play Raul, because he’s a legend. Benzem was bought for 30m, which is still a lot, and Higuain is not bad.

    Phew…I’m never going to talk that much about Real again…

  3. OhYes
    August 27, 2009

    Ribery is CRon 2.0 because now, apparently, he is going to RM next year

  4. Hilal
    August 27, 2009

    Thank you Flippy, you just saved me the trouble of posting something very similar. All this talk about our lack of depth, i dont see any more QUALITY depth at RM. The same way we cannot replace Xavi or Messi, they cannot replace Kaka or Benzema. The difference is that we have more irreplaceable players than they do, but how does that make our situation worse? It doesnt, it just means our first team is a lot better and that subs will never be of the same quality because no player of that quality is willing to sit on the bench.

    Injuries can fuck any team, we are in no more danger than anybody else. Personally I would rather have the young cantera players as backup than overpayed, mediocre players who will just bitch and whine about not getting enough playing time. Either way we are not going to have a bench that replaces the likes of Xavi and Messi. First of all there are no players as good as them and even if there were they would never sit on the bench. I would rather have a JDS or a Thiago than a Guddy or a Hleb. They understand the system, they will cherish any chance they get to play (as opposed to crying about not enough time on the pitch), it will give them opportunity to grow as players and they wont get rusty sitting on the bench because they keep fresh and fit playing for our youth squad. I really dont see a problem….

  5. Hilal
    August 27, 2009

    @OhYes

    And Cesc is Xavi 2.0 because apparently he is coming to Barca next year….

  6. OhYes
    August 27, 2009

    Wait..what?

  7. Hilal
    August 27, 2009

    Well if you listen to these sorts of reports then we already have a preagreement with Cesc that he comes next year. Personally i dont put much stock in these reports. A few months ago we had Ribery in the bag “according to reports” and a few months before him it was Aguerro. Its all talk, untill I see the player in the shirt I remain skeptical.

    Cesc coming to us is as likely as Ribery going to Madrid. Anyways thats all next year, lets stick to this year…

  8. August 27, 2009

    – We played without Iniesta in december. The most difficult games. We won it all, and in style.

    – I will check later may be, but we also played without Messi (with iniesta in his place) some games and we won it all.

    – I believe having Yaya, Iniesta, and Keita in the midfield with Henry Ibra, Messi upfront can beat any team as well.

    – Hell we can win at least 75 % of our games by havine Maxwell-Alves as fullbacks, Busquets and Yaya as holding mids with Messi playing as a “10”, then Henry, Ibra, and Bojan/Pedro infront (thats a selection without both Iniesta and Xavi.

    – The same as we can play Iniesta-Ibra-Messi infront of Xavi-Keita-Yaya. This option scored the same average of goals/game as the selection that is considered the best (Yaya-Iniesta-Xavi- Henry-Eto’o-Messi). I repeat scored the same goal average per game.

    So our depth is alright if well managed. No one cause crises if not available. Its just that some may need us more effort to cover than others.

  9. August 27, 2009

    Hilal, We hear these reports all the time since ever. I am not sure about how reliable it is. I hope not. I know…I know…

  10. August 27, 2009

    Several things-

    1) I know the Yaya can do all sorts of things but I still go by last year’s rule of thumb. We can survive without either Iniesta or Xavi for a while but definitely not both. Remember during the first half of last season, Iniesta suffered a long layoff as well and we won all our league games minus the one at Getafe which we drew during that stretch. Why did we roll at that point but noticeably struggle when he went down again in the second half? Xavi was much more tired at that point and it told, We can afford to survive without one of the two but not for a long time. If both of them go down for the same stretch then we’re in a world of hurt.

    They are still the only two players capable of playing the four position (center-mid tempo setter/maestro) as effectively for our system as we saw last season. The Yaya may do a decent job but it won’t be close to what our little geniuses can do. I like him playing off one of the two midgets.

    2) I expect to see the Iniesta/Xavi midfield played sparingly during the dog days of the season grind even if both are healthy. Why? Well, hopefully not injuries but because it makes sense to platoon Xavi and Iniesta at the four more often to keep them healthy. When the ACS comes around, we need them to be both ready or else we are in trouble. That’s where Busi, Guddy, Yaya, Keita, et al. come in, Hell, for certain games maybe a JDS or Thiago can play next to one of the two.

    3) I would actually argue that we may well have a “deeper” squad than last year depending on how well guys like Chygnasty (yeah, I’m counting him in), Bojan, and Pedro acquit themselves even though we also have a tougher year with more games. Huh? What?

    Players who left and their replacements:
    1) Hleb (Pedro!)
    2) Cáceres (Chygnasty and, in a sense, Fontas/Muniesta/maybe Adriano)
    3) Sylvinho (Maxwell)
    4) Eto’o (Ibra)
    5) Victor Sanchez (considering how often he played, I think JDS and Thiago can be considered replacements).

    As far as I’m concerned, we still have the same number of players available that we did for the Triplete. Consider that whereas last year Pedro and VicSan were the only canteranos occasionally trusted in the first team whereas this year we have the likes of Jeffren (assuming he does not get transferred), Muniesa, Fontas, JDS, and Thiago to call upon if the shit hits the fan.

    Why can this squad maybe be deeper than last year’s? If Pedro! and Bojan establish themselves as 100% reliable squad players (and that is definitely not a sure thing) then Iniesta and Xavi will be able to rest much more. Why? Instead of covering for an injured or tired Henry, Messi or Hleb on the front line, Iniesta can focus full time on midfield. Imagine all the times he played left wing he could have rested (or subbed Xavi so that HE could rest) if we had someone else to play left wing. I think Pep is pinning a lot of hope on Pedro! or Bojan being able to grab that left wing and make it their own when Henry is injured or filling in for Ibra. I just hope they both prove Pep’s trust in them is correctly placed because we need them to step up.

    What was the position that was spread the thinnest last year? Centerback. Between Chygnasty, Fontas, and Muniesa I would hope we have a better contribution to depth than Cáceres contributed.

    The ACN will be tough because we lose two first choice players for a significant stretch. However, knowing this gives the staff time to plan around this.

    In the end, it comes down to one main thing: luck.

  11. Han
    August 27, 2009

    @ Flippy and Hilal
    nice to point out EE’s similar defencies, lack of depth.
    Though imo they have a little more, than we which means first of all that we “as pointed out” have more irreplacable players and they might have more locker room issues.

    Btw: EE news. Robben is likely off to Bayern Munchen for 25million€ (imo good news for us, they lose out transfer wise since he was bought for 36million and they loose a possible gamewinner).

    So far my EE talk: think we’re quite ok with the Canteranos as pointed out, but wouldn’t mind keeping Guddy or buying a cheap but a lil better alternative (to Guddy, some thoughts brought me to Valbuena, but haven’t seen alot of him?).

  12. Han
    August 27, 2009

    Nice summary Hector, felt like Pep was schooling me personally about his choices.

    A top group for CL:
    Glasgow Rangers
    OL Marseille
    Apoel or Zurich

    Easy and entertaining Imo.

  13. August 27, 2009

    Glad to see Robben gone. They lose significant depth on the wings and a match winner.

  14. OhYes
    August 27, 2009

    I made the comparison to CRon because it took CRon a while to transfer but also because he was always going “next year.”

    Cesc to Xavi….?

  15. Flippy
    August 27, 2009

    Damn, If Robben goes to Munchen then that means two things:
    a) Real are not going to be playing with wingers
    b) Munchen are going to be a CL contender

  16. August 27, 2009

    Considering how often he is healthy and how Louis “Master of Terror” van Gaal is running things then its definitely not a sure thing.

  17. August 27, 2009

    Or Ribery will be a RM player sooner or later…

    If RM are stupid enough to let Robben go then, you dont need to worry about them.

  18. Han
    August 27, 2009

    Didn’t Real wanted to recuperate about 100million for the Dutchies?

    Robben 36M – sold 25M
    Sneijder 27M – sold 15M
    Huntelaar 20+7M – sold 15M (after 6months!!!!)
    we’re at 55M
    Still around
    Van Nistelrooy 15M- value close to nothing
    VDV 14M – Value close to half of what they bought him for 12 months ago.
    Drenthe 13M – see above, value close to half of what they bought him for 24 months ago.

    All in all doesn’t look that good for them 😉 and their selling policy has more issues than ours imho.

  19. Flippy
    August 27, 2009

    Apparently Sneijder is leaving for Inter as well. So that means Real now have a sqaud of 24. van der Vaart is going to leave, which makes it 23. Subtract de la Red, who is probably forced to retire with his health conditions. That is 22 squad players. We have 21, but Chygrynskiy is soon to be official. Still I think that when Chygrynskiy is official, Henrique will be on his way to Racing. So we have 21 and they have 22, but we have the advantage of youth players.

    About Xavi and Iniesta being out for a while at the same time, THE YAYA can probably do well against lower half table teams, but against big teams we would probably play something like:
    VV
    Alves – Piqué – Chygrynskiy/Marquez – Maxwell
    Keita – THE YAYA – Busquets
    Messi
    Ibra – Henry

    The job of Keita and Busquets is to bring the ball to:
    a) the fullbacks
    b) Messi
    c) the strikers

    Marquez and/or Chygrynskiy would do the occasional long ball. Piqué and The Yaya sometimes switch so Piqué can make a run. A lot of movement by the Messi, Ibra, and Henry trio. Such as Ibra moving to the wing for Keita and Messi to bombard the box or Ibrahimovic switching positions with Messi. The key for success would be movement and quick passing. Even JDS may work in this case. If this happens during the ANC, put Chygrynskiy, Marquez, or Piqué at DM, and swap Keita with Gudjohnsen, Thiago, or JDS. Perhaps it may be better that Pedro takes place instead of Keita/Busquets with his speed. Either way I’d prefer to talk about this when it happens, because then we’d have a pretty clear idea of what we can do.

  20. ocho
    October 7, 2009

    This might sound odd.. but the one thing that really stood out was Tete (Tenerife) getting relegated.

    It was a bit disappointing to see that you think Tenerife’s going back down:(… I hope it’s just the numbers talking there cus everything I’ve seen of them so far this season has actually been quite impressive. More specifically, they played extremely well against both Real and Depor (despite the score lines which in my opinion were far from reflective of their performance) and not to mention how they broke Athletic Bilbao’s winning streak.

    Despite being an incurable Barca addict, I’ve grown slightly fond of Tenerife’s play so far this season. They seem to carry a similar desire and drive to that which we’ve grown accustomed to when watching our boys destroy teams week in, week out. Not only are they pressuring teams high up the field and working their asses off, but they’re also playing some very aesthetically pleasing football (a more primitive – probably exhausting and less natural – version of our Tiki Taka) and I commend that.

    It’ll be interesting to see if they’ve got the depth and mental strength to go on and improve over the course of the season (I definitely hope they do). Oh – and it’ll be interesting to see how other teams start coping with the extended flights to Tenerife’s home ground (too long a name to remember) once the season and different competitions start taking their toll.

    Now why would a Barca fan go on and on about a team like Tenerife (Tete)? I have no I idea – I probably wouldn’t even read this post if it were by someone else and the team hadn’t caught my attention. Oh well, I guess I just needed to dump the thought somewhere and who better to share it with than a cule community…

  21. March 24, 2010

    This particular post makes i find that most of us need to take extra attention of ourself and each other.

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