AC Milan come to town tomorrow to play in the Joan Gamper Trophy match, a preseason ritual that is more run-out than hotly contested match (though Puyol and Eto’o two years ago would have called me a series of names for such an insulting statement). I’m not one to get too excited about it, but whereas last year it meant Ibra’s home debut (which was fun despite the 0-1 final scoreline), this year it means the return of Ronaldinho. I miss Ronnie in that nostalgic way where his presence on the field remind me of a time when I was watching all the matches from Central America and Mexico, typically while sweating and swearing in equal measure. I enjoyed those years and so–despite the modern era being much nicer for a myriad of reasons (the main one doesn’t typically read the blog, so I don’t have to worry about offending her)–I’m looking forward to seeing this one.
I expect a full round of cheers for Ronnie, what with this not being a competitive match after all, and a generally pleasant atmosphere throughout the the game. I’d rather see Ibra play with Villa and maybe even see them misfire a bit than play a serious match with serious consequences. We have Racing on Sunday, so there’s no reason to put our boys at risk for more than 45 minutes apiece (I can never remember how many subs we get, but I’m assuming infinite). That said, I certainly want to see us win this one because, as Guardiola says, it’s a good test of where we are as a team.
The starting lineup shouldn’t be replete with regular starters simply because there’s no reason for that. The squad just played on Saturday against Sevilla and could use the cool down period before the league starts, so why not let the young ones get a run out at the Camp Nou, which they weren’t able to do against Sevilla? And then you put Villa and Ibra on together at halftime or a few minutes after, along with Messi and Xavi, and see what they can do.
Everyone is talking about Ibra out, Mascherano in at the moment, so my quick thoughts on that: Ibra is staying and Masch is way overpriced for us. He may (or may not) be worth €28m, but to us, he’s not worth half that. €15m is pushing towards highway robbery for us simply because he’s going to sit on the bench behind Busi. It’s the same concept as why Cesc didn’t make any sense at more than €20m (that difference of €5m comes from Keita being there). So if we can’t get Masch for less than €15m total, there’s no point in doing the deal. And yet the rumors are picking up steam that we’re going to put Yaya money on him. More than Yaya money, perhaps. And that, of course, leads me to believe one of several things: I’m a complete moron and that Pep valuates Masch higher and I should accept this; Rosell is trying to play God with signings and put a serious mark on his era (which means we should all bellow with rage); or the reports are completely full of baloney. I tend to think it’s the last reason rather than the first two, but it really could be any of them.
One thing that is pure baloney is the Ibra transfer rumor. Adi-Oula Sebastian puts some maths together for the rest of us that I think is pretty compelling despite knowing that any economist worth his salt would yell “sunk cost!” immmediately after reading it. It’s the concept of giving up on a player after one successful year that irks me, especially if we have to pay 40% of his salary anyway. Might as well pay 100% of it and get 21 goals from him.* So, then, getting rid of Ibra would be a fantastic waste of talent and, I think, would finalize Guardiola’s exit at the end of the season. And yes, I just said that. Chygrynskiy was one thing, but Ibra too? That’s just too much meddling.
So anyway, you’ll want a prediction, won’t you? 1-2, Milan because we’re going to experiment. Because we’re going to go wild with finding out what will end up being the perfect combo. And I’ll be doing a liveblog the whole time
Also: join the Fantasy League I created on Yahoo!. Join it now. The password is barcelona. The prize for winning is yet to be determined, but it will be awesome, there’s no doubt about that. When you join, please send me an email (info at barcelonafootballblog dot com) with your team name and I’ll write it all down so that we don’t lose who our winner is (who was our winner last year!? You never claimed your prize!). Edit: the group ID is 3093 and is named Barcelona Football Blog.
*A quick side note: the world’s favorite striker of the moment, Edin Džeko, scored 29 total goals last year; if that is the mark for an extra-successful year, then 21 goals is still pretty freakin’ good, especially considering that Ibra only scored 1 less goal in Europe and shared goals with Lionel Messi who had 47. Nevermind that Pedro also had 23 and his season was considered fantastic…and he only scored 12 league goals. 4 of his goals came in Super Cups and the Club World Cup, meaning Ibra’s Supercopa goal most certainly counts for him this year.