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

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.

171 comments

  1. Bilbao will definately be higher, Madrid will come 3 or 4 after Sevilla and/or Valencia. Barca wont need 90 points to win the season this year, 82 will be enough

  2. Hey, remember when everyone was saying that Txiki B. sucked because we weren’t making any signings? 😀

    Just checking.

    The return of Guardiola kicked everything into action, and Txiki is fulfiling a major job of a club’s sporting director: Getting the coach the players that he wants.

    Not sure when the Chygrynskyy signing will be made official, but 25m was the magic number. Only time will tell if we overpaid, right?

  3. Don’t we already have milito, marquez as backups? Plus kerrison and that muniesa kid, that is more than enough. We should be spending money on a decent midfielder.

  4. after losing arango to some german club & moya to valencia i don’t see mallorca finishing that high up. same goes for villarreal after losing nihat & the chileans: mati fernandez & pellegrini; despite getting nilmar(big fan).

    i’m thinking emery tries out zigic along side villa & silva just behind them. they’ll use the serbian to draw defenders out much like how gai assulin got all that space to play in against man city. i think they’ll make the champions league. sorry sevilla. maybe a long shot. shit is way too chaotic around there.

  5. I think Barca directive is not just thinking about THIS SEASON!
    It is correct, this season is super packed but some players in our squad are getting old and younger players need to step up to the task left by seniors.

    25m is quite a lot for a CB but if he is that versatile as he seems to be (CB, DM, aerial attack, ball distributer, leadership, etc.) then he can be worth it.
    Alves costs us 35m and people seemed to forget that.

  6. i’ve got a question? is c-nasty left footed? from what i’ve seen of him, which isn’t much, i think so. he plays on the left side of the other center back i think. would he & muniesa be able to pair up in the center both being zurdos? does that automatically move muniesa to left back?

  7. I like lots of Rafa Marquez but he’s gotten injured quite a few times… hope he can stick around more because me loves hims tons!

  8. i think 25m will be too much no matter how well he performs for us, it’s just too expensive for a centerback. personally i think more proven defenders like vidic only barely get away with that price. but oh well, it’s about to be finalized and there’s no sense in getting fussy about it now 😛 he’s young and a signing for the future, so in pep we trust etc etc etc

    i kinda see atleti placing higher this season. out of all the other “top 6” teams i see them taking the most points off us and real. and i’d probably knock bilbao a step up too!

    oh ya and getafe will place MUCH higher because they have those cool burger king kits to motivate their players to score hahaha

  9. oh. right on thank you j-to the n-i-c-e. disregard that then.

    great read by the way isaiah. too busy being a chatty kathy to give you your mad props.

  10. @Corrine and the BK kits:
    “So remember — every time a Getafe player does the King celebration this season, a marketing director gets his wings. And a little piece of the game dies forever.”-The Dirty Tackle
    HAHA. they have the King on the inside of their shirts! how lmao crazy.

    YouStillHere? has finally left. YAY! what a wonderful day. now if only we can get rid of monument…hmm….

  11. Hey guys,

    Kevin and Isaiah, you guys write brilliantly! Love this blog!

    Is the new chap worth all the money? is it a done deal yet? will he play for us or against us on friday?

    I read an interview wherein Jorge Valdano said it’s very risky doing business with valencia cos their demeanor suggests that they want to sell a player (in real madrid’s case it was ayala at the time) and they decide to bail at the end. It was a good thing we opted out of the chase for Villa early although he is a crack!

    Kerrison didn’t do too well for Benfica last night acc to sport. He was too static, etc etc. Early nerves i guess. Hope he stands up soon.

    My argument with the subject of loaning players out is pretty clear. considering it’s essential that a player understand the barca philosophy, wouldn’t it be wiser to loan these guys to teams in europe that try n play the barca way? like Ajax and Arsenal for eg.?

    I agree Ajax may not be part of one of the strongest leagues in Europe but it seems that the adapting to a philosophy is more essential than the experience u acquire.

    Hleb is an exception to the rule because he’s a whiner who had the advantage of being an arsenal player but sub consciously refused to adapt preferring to wallow in self pity all season long. My favourite speed demon Overmars was great buy back in the day. 🙂

  12. GREAT Post Isaiah. funnier than the last one.

    wow… i was biting my nails with suspense, wondering who your prediciton for 1st place would be, Barca or the E.E. … ha!, just kidding.

    I think that when we go to Espanyol and whoop their asses, it would be a nice touch to not celebrate the 3 or 4 goals that we score on them, because of Jarque.

    oh, and if I am not mistaken, Ever Banega belongs to Valencia, and was on loan at Atleti. I think that you wrote that Atleti loaned him to Valencia.

    Great point about Madrid’s CL chase hindering their Liga campaing. i actually want them to do well in the CL for two reasons.
    A) obviously, i want them to lose concentration in the league.
    B) HOW EFFING SWEET WOULD IT BE TO SNATCH THE CHAMPION’S LEAGUE IN THE SANTIAGO BERNABEU!?!?!, and then the medals and award ceramony would be held at the Bernabeu. Imagine half of the stadium dressed in all white, watching us parade in their stadium holding the cup, pouring champainge, and general celebrating. (it would only be half white, because barca SHOULD get half the tix)
    -ok, this is getting WAY ahead of myself, but still, it would be awesome.

  13. Oh, and as usual, Crynaldo should be wiping the tears from his face, with raul, and kaka telling him that “it will be alright” and that “they tried their best”

  14. I just read that the president of Shaktar is a billionairre and is richer than Abramovich and is the richest man in Europe. Explains why this transfer has been so difficult.

    According to Jordi Cruyff, ” You give him 50 (mill) and he does not care.”

    //http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinat_Akhmetov

  15. Good analysis Isaiah. My dream as well is to beat Madrid in Madrid to get the champions league for second consecutive time. That would be awesome!

  16. I’m in a mix here with you Isaiah and LLL. Mallorca is seriously weakened and will fight relegation dangers. Almeria will be on the outskirts as well, but I agree on on Zaragoza going for very safe midtable position (have nice team imo), same for the Basques and Deportivo edging towards Europe.

    Gijon will save itself by an inch hopefully(ditto last year) and either Valladollid or Osasuna will be in contention with the latter. Malaga and Getafe will suck and Atletico gets to be third because of Sevilla’s overreliance on ACN players.

    SO my prediction.
    1. we
    2. EE
    3. Gil y Gil
    4. Del Nido
    5. Dalport
    6. Formula Roig
    7. mini (m)EE
    8. Lendoira & bandits
    9.Penanty.
    10.Batasuna & Friends
    11. Osasuna
    12. Hugol
    13. Michel the new Burger, by BK
    14. Malaga
    15. Valladolid
    16. Mallorca
    17. Xerez aka FC Shoot ‘m up
    18. FC Gran Canaria

  17. I think we all miss the point of this signing. He is a young lad used to play in the UCL. Puyol is getting old (although I would like to see him having grandsons while still being our Captain). And Milito…Valdano was holding his tongue for a long time…but now he is self-praising about not signing him a few years ago for the EE, as he assures his knee cannot cope with three weekly matches.
    And guys, I am afraid he might be right. After all, the Argentinian has been injured for the last 16 months, and no doctor can predict when he is coming back (if he ever is). There are no announcements about him. That tells me one thing: the club might know it is difficult for Milito to play again, but they are trying to hide. I don’t know.
    So, it might be two important players less behind (Puyol has not renewed yet).
    I have read a journalist saying that, as this is the “directiva” last term, they are trying to get hidden commissions with Chryrgrywhatever in order to fatten their bank account before going home for good. I do not want to believe that. I think that Barça is above money.
    Time will tell…

  18. “no top-flight experience will be relegated”

    You’re kidding right? Because what you said applies to Xerez rather than them. Chalk that one up. Xerez to be relegated.

    Tenerife have been a part of Liga the whole of the 90s. Personally I’d love for them to stay, if only to hurt Madrid again.
    (You atleast know of that right? RIGHT??)

    Anyhow, disagree with most of the lower half of the table and probably a few others. Can’t really elaborate now but whatever. =/

    Anyhow since no one responded to my comment on the origins of the whole “if they were in the chat world…” thing I’ll show you what I was talking about, just for laughs if anything:

    //http://www.4guysfromviewpoint.com/?p=76
    //http://i39.tinypic.com/zl4y1w.gif

    The real one was much older (and longer+funnier!) sometime around 01/02. Can’t find it though…

  19. Sorry to say this but I’m disappointed with this one Isaiah. A good readbut hardly one that is well researched.

  20. Isaiah, you mixed up Xerez and Tenerife in the final table, didn’t you?

    “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”
    haha, that was brilliant. I’m looking forward to some more CR7/9/94 jokes during this season.

    Jason, the scenario you described is everyone’s dream here. It would be the ultimate experience for any Barca fan, nothing can surpass it, ever!

    And Chygrynskiy is about to reduce his wage from 3m to 1.2m ??? Now if that’s true he definitely is devoted to our club and I don’t think there are many players that would accept such a pay decline (even if Ibra said during an interview there are many players who would play for free at Barca… so why doesn’t he offer a pay reduction to 4m for the good of the club?:) ).
    Since he is still young and if he is also a great defensive midfielder, I think 25m is an acceptable price tag. If he signs a 5 year contract and you consider his rather low wage, it kind a reduces the transfer sum to 15 to 10m because other players like Mascherano would definitely want to earn 2 or 3m more per year.
    On the other hand, I suppose if he performs well at Barca, h will get a pay rise rather soon than late. Just 1.2m is nothing compared to the usual wages at this club…

  21. Funny stuff CP.

    It would be breathtaking if Tenerife played their magic once again at the end of this season.

    When do they play madrid in the 2nd round?

  22. Jnice,

    You are right. I always read the 4 comics (Sport, EMD, Marca and As in that order) every single morning with my coffee. As makes me laugh even more than Family Guy. They somehow remind me of Stewie Griffins, willing to rule the world in a childish fashion.
    But you can only take that “panfleto” as a joke.
    However, as soon as they get a tread they can use to smack us, they do. it might be true or false.
    But the Milito issue has been a concern to me for a looooong time now. And it seems that the nightmare is here to hunt us…
    Anyway, if he cannot cope with three weekly matches, let’s hope he recovers to play at least once a week 🙂

  23. For the younger/newer fans, Tenerife beat RM in the last game of the season to give us the Liga TWICE during the Dream Team’s reign. They should have a special place in every culé’s heart. I would definitely pick them to stay if only for that.

    The irony of ironies? Their coach was Jorge Valdano. 🙂

    Why do you think Cruyff always has nothing but good things to say about Valdano? As a coach, he owes Valdano BIG TIME 😀 .

  24. my prediction is that atletico takes seccond place. they have so many gifted players and if they can come in this season with the form from the spring i think they can challenge us for the title.
    real i think is a disaster in the making nobody can live up to the expectations required there. i think cl is reals only hope

  25. if only atletico had added decent defenders and two central midfielders, they would have been contender. right now, and after watching their performance yesterday, i think they are likely to be in 3-6 band.

  26. “As makes me laugh even more than Family Guy. They somehow remind me of Stewie Griffins, willing to rule the world in a childish fashion.
    But you can only take that “panfleto” as a joke.”

    Could not formulate that in a more rightful manner.

  27. The 3-6 band for Atletico is quite derogatory imo, given they gave us a 4-3 defeat in the last encounter.

    However, your observation of their transfer policy looks quite right. Let’s hope they just stick to the 6-1 category (when we play them) as they have been last november.

  28. At least As reserved a little box (however small) in their cover to announce that Barca were Supercopa Champions. Marca din’t even deign to do that (or was so microscopic that I didn’t see it). The mug of Pellegrini was the photo of the the cover.
    I remember that 5 years ago, As was considered an EE pamphlet, whilst Marca was a more fair tabloid, but I feel that Marca is trying to go for record Guinnes of fanatical newspaper.

    and waht about Milito? Has a date been set for his return? I really think athat in this day and age, 15 months in the sidelines is quite a layoff.

  29. I think As is worse than Marca, at least when it comes to the opinion pieces. It’s usually ridiculous talk about how after winning a friendly 4-0, they are better and stronger than us yadda yadda. I really can’t stand those opinion pieces. It angers me.

    I thought I read, a couple of weeks ago in Sport that Milito feels no more pain or something like that. I think Kevin mentioned might have mentioned it on one of his posts, too.

  30. Yes. Last official word was that Milito was, after the last operation, pain-free and working out in Argentina.

    Frankly, at the time, he was worth a shot in the context of what our defense needed. Recall that we weren’t playing the offensive defense that we’re playing now.

    We wouldn’t sign him today, because he isn’t the kind of player we like on the back line. Which is why, if he ever gets healthy, we’ll sell him at a loss.

    As for Chygnasty, a reassesment of the fiscal worldview re defenders is valuable, in light of the Guardiola system.

    Defenders don’t just stand there and kick the ball out when it comes in. They start attacks, contribute to the attack on set pieces, even bring the ball up, to save Xavi some stress (skills that Vidic doesn’t have, by the by).

    In that context, a defender with youth, and the evident skills of Chygnasty is priced about right at 25m. Vidic would have been overpriced at the same number, IMHO.

  31. Our ex-player Ivan de la Peña is going to be Espanyol’s captain after Dani Jarque’s death. The Little Buddha sure put a hurtin’ on us last time they visited the Camp Nou.

    Frank de Bleeckere will be the ref for the UEFA Super Cup match on Friday. We’re 1-1-1 with him reffing us, the last match being the CL loss at Chelsea in 2006/07. Shakhtar is 1-0-1 with de Bleekere in charge, a win in the CL qualifiers in 06/07 and a loss to Milan in 04/05 during the group stage.

  32. De Bleeckere is a belgian referee, nothing special too mention besides the fact that he has a tendency to go with the flow if you know what I mean.

    Some of his less than stellar games are imo a consequence of being bullied or influenced by homefans.

    All in all no problem, given the Monaco location for the game.

  33. Also, Helge, you’re right, I made a mistake in the final table. Will correct.

    Tim, yes, Ambrose Bierce (reference this). Should probably have included a link in the original text. Will also correct that.

  34. I don’t think txiki is doing a good job at all, we supposedly sign chigro 3 days before la liga starts for 25m, it would only be a good price if he plays well for a lot years. We changed ibra for etoo and some more money ok but what about keirrison and henrique? did guardiola ask for them?

    players 2009/2010:

    goal—-: victor, pinto and A KID
    2 cb’s—- puyol, pique, marquez, chigro, MILITO, FONTAS, MUNIESA, ABIDAL
    lb—- abidal maxwell and A KID
    rb—- alves PUYOL and A KID
    dm—- YAYA powerserg KEITA MARQUEZ CHIGRO and A KID
    2 “interiores”—- xavi iniesta YAYA KEITA MAXWELL THIAGO JDS
    2 wings—- messi henry pedro! bojan INIESTA
    striker: ibra, BOJAN, HENRY

    In big letters those who:

    1-will play cup of africa
    2- are still players of Barça B
    3- play in a “second choice” position like chigro as dm when he is a cb
    4*- milito, hope he gets well soon and comes back 🙁

    pedro! and bojan can do well in the wings and fontas or muniesa can participate in some games also but we need a midfielder or “interior” as pep has said in press conferences I think. We have some good Barça B players and we have many players that can play well in different positions… to be a team and make differents tasks at some time is a good thing but having 20 players (with milito yaya and keita that will miss part of the season) sounds risky. EE can’t win this liga and they have like 26 players, maybe one or a couple less.. but FCB players are better for sure and they know their style of playing… + ibrahimovic.

    Keita yaya and busi can play dm and interior / iniesta interior and wing / henry messi and bojan as 9 and wing / marquez, pique or chigro can play cb and dm / pedro both wings… looks like pep touches a lot of strings 😉 In pep we trust and he can make it work but I think the list of players is short anyway.

    I want to know how well will Valderde do with Vila-real, or or how well Atleti or Sevilla or Valencia will end so this league is not a thing of two again 😉

  35. Tim, just realized what you mean by your question (I think) — also provided a link to “David Pearce” which just happens to rhyme with Ambrose Bierce. And I corrected the title of the short story (Occurrence and not Incident) as well. Totally kerfluffled that reference, eh?

  36. Always a great tournament to watch the stars of tomorrow. Saw that whole tournament in Holland (2005) a couple of years back when Messi was just unstoppable. Got benched first game, never ever since. He scored an absolute screamer in the semi-final, omfg.

    Great Argentina team that year btw, including: Messi, Aguero, Gago, Zabaleta, Biglia, Garay, …

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