Bears, Trees, and Bogey Teams: Atléti-Barça

Liga Preview: Atletico Madrid – Barça, Sunday 1pmEST, ESPN2HD/ESPN360

The Manzanares River cuts through Madrid and provides not only a little bit of scenery, but also a historical backdrop for the entire city: it was on the banks of the Manzanares that the Moors built the Magerit fortress and it’s from that name that Madrid–and by extension Atléti–derives a large portion of its story. According to Wikipedia,

The most ancient recorded name of the city Magerit…comes from the name of a fortress built on the Manzanares River in the ninth century A.D., and means “Place of abundant water.” If the form is correct, it could be a Celtic place-name from ritu- ‘ford’ (Old Welsh rit, Welsh rhyd, Old Breton rit, Old Northern French roy) and a first element, that is not clearly identified *mageto derivation of magos ‘field’ ‘plain’ (Old Irish mag ‘field’, Breton ma ‘place’), or matu ‘bear”, that could explain the Latin translation Ursalia.

….In the 7th century the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula saw the name changed to “Mayrit”, from the Arabic term ميرا “Mayra” (referencing water as a “trees” or “giver of life”) and the Ibero-Roman suffix “it” that means “place”. The modern “Madrid” evolved from the Mozarabic “Matrit”, which is still in the Madrilenian gentilic.

So, then, already we’re seeing two symbols of Madrid and Atléti appearing: the bear and the tree. If you haven’t seen Atléti’s symbol, check it out. There is a bear and there is a tree. And there are some other things in the logo, of course, but it’s the bear and the tree that stand out as the oddest part to the casual observer. And yet Atléti is known as los colchoneros (possibly erroneously) and not the Mama Grizzlies or, uh, the Ents. Interesting how that works, eh?

But the Manzanares is more than just a source for the symbols and words, it’s also where the Estadio Vicente Calderón is located in the district of Arganzuela. Having never been to that part of Madrid despite having stayed in nearby Puerta del Sol–and no, I didn’t go to the Bernabeu either–I can’t speak to the nature of that part of town or its beauty or anything like that, but if I understand correctly, it’s a much more working-class neighborhood than that around the Bernabeu. That, supposedly, gives Atléti the base it has, even if the neighborhood itself is changing or has changed.

Manzanares River (Wikimedia)
So it’s the working man’s team from the capital against the self-styled Catalan flagship and, as seems to be the norm now, it’s a big match at an awkward moment. I briefly recapped our difficulties at the Vicente Calderón on Soccernet, so I won’t do it all again, but something I found out while reading up today is that the stadium is slated for destruction in the near future. The team is moving to the Estadio La Peineta, which means if we do have a bogey stadium, it won’t be there for much longer. That’s nice.

The match itself is going to be different from our preparations for the last match with them simply because we are only missing Abidal this time around. Our French greyhound is out for “personal reasons,” which means bad things happened, so my heart goes out to him and his family. It also means that Maxwell will start, which is good for our offense, but bad for our defense. Otherwise, we’re missing Jeffren to injury and that’s it. We should be able to start our best lineup minus Abidal, which is good and, if the Panathinaikos match was any indication, more than a bit scary to opposing defenses.

The squad list is Valdés, Pinto, Maxwell, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Milito, Adriano, Busquets, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Keita, Messi, Pedro!, Villa, Bojan.

Atléti, though is no Panathinaikos and they come with massive firepower up front. Diego Forlan is, arguably, having the best run of his career and Kun Aguero, if he’s fit in time, is having a good season as well. Simão is always dangerous and seems to play with chip on his shoulder against his former club and Jose Antonio Reyes can deliver nasty freekicks from time-to-time. If Filipe Luis is healthy, he could make his first appearance for the club, but it might not be quite the right time to take on that risk. Godin is new, but is a solid center back and Ujfalusi will kick you. And then kick you again.

They’ve been playing well of late in La Liga, winning their first 2 Liga matches against Sporting Gijon and at Athletic Bilbao 4-0 and 1-2, respectively. Forlan has 3 goals to his name and will be the obvious danger man that we need to look out for. The thing is, with a nearly full-strength squad and with Aguero potentially below 100%, things could be very different from last year when our starting lineup was Valdés, Milito, Puyol, Maxwell, Jeffrén, Busi, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, Messi and Keita subbed off for Pedro 7 minutes in with an injury.

Lineup prediction: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi.

The differences in this lineup should help us control the ball more effectively. Instead of two destroyers at CB, Piqué steps in as a creative outlet and Puyol can just kill things as is his wont. I can see Keita starting this match instead of Pedro, making it more of a 4-4-2, but either way, we’re in better shape than last year simply because Jeffren will not be starting at right back. El Mundo Deportivo has an interesting “interview with a Barcelona player” that discusses the tactics of the last match and makes a fair bit of sense when it points out the triple-team in midfield that Atléti was able to put on our midfield after Keita’s injury. That suggests Keita is a very important part of the team, so maybe he will get a start, but I don’t prefer it, personally.

Official prediction: 2-2. We weren’t sharp last week and they were. We  were sharp in midweek against Greek opposition and they weren’t (losing to Aris 1-0 in Greece), but they’ve got a serious goal poacher that can step up when needed and rifle one in. Uruguayans know what I’m talking about.

Would anyone like to run the liveblog? Please volunteer by emailing me or posting a comment about it. Thanks in advance.

Time: Sunday, 7pm local/Madrid, 1pm EST. Check your local time here.
: Here in the US, the match is on ESPN2.
Weather: Clear skies, ~79F (~26C), 0% chance of rain, 50% humidity. Bring your sweatbands.

By Isaiah

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.


  1. I could actually see a start for SMasch in this one, as we roll out with a nice, tight midfield of Xavi, Busquets and Mascherano, sacrificing a bit of creativity for air-tightness.

    Iniesta was held out of practice once this week as a precaution, so why not rest him, or have him as the “in case of fire” option?

    1. I agree, especially with Abidal out of the game – SMasch would help to balance the more attacking tendencies of Maxwell.

      I think we will see either SMasch or Keita start tomorrow

    2. “In case of fire” when we’re walking into an inferno?

      I’d like all our big boys to start this one. For me, this is one of the biggest matches of the season, so we should treat it as such.

      I’m not really sure about SMasch. Personally, I’d put SMasch on the bench, simply because Atleti has very, very good freekick takers (*cough SIMAO cough*) that can hurt us if we foul anywhere close to the 18. But if we sub him on later, there’s a chance that he won’t settle in quick enough and that will give Atletico renewed hope.

      The only way I can see Iniesta benched is for tactical reasons. If Keita is imperative to start this match, we’d either see Andres as LW, which actually doesn’t strike me with as much fear as it used to, seeing how he’s improved into this new Iniesta that takes shots!, or on the bench and Pedro! will come in. I see P! as a destabilizer, so I’m going for:

      Alves – Pique – Puyol – Maxwell
      Xavi – Busi – Keita
      Messi – Villa – Iniesta

      Pep usually defies all and will play Pique as CF but we’ll see. Get ready Pathetico Atletico!

  2. Watching the Arsenal match… Chamakh is actually pretty good. He is good at holding the ball up, playing with his back to the goal, good with his head, and his movement is good as well. Wenger really got that signing right, and on a free as well.

    Tough to say, but he has all of the qualities that would be helpful to us as a “plan B” striker, even if he may not be of quite high enough level.

    1. From what I saw in the first half, Arsenal got dominated but showed why pressuring the defense is so important as that’s where they got their goal (Fabregas charging down Ferdinand who went to boot the ball out but if deflected off Fabregas’ boot and into the goal. Freak goal, and freak injury as Fabregas was subbed off half an hour in. This parenthesis is really too long.).

      I haven’t really focused on Chamakh enough to see his qualities. His hairstyle is nice though. 😀

    2. what a game. to see sunderland equalise 20 seconds after the 4 minute injury time is really heart-breaking. (fyi i’m a football fan first and arsenal fan second. so i’m not here to troll around. relax 😉 ).

      chamakh seems a really great signing for arsenal. for the last 20 minutes of the second half, arsenal put 8 men behind the halfway line (song was sent off) and chamakh holds the line by himself.

      i agree with vicsoc8. barca needs someone like him.

    3. Heart-breaking doesn’t do it justice. I’m running around the house trying to pad fragile objects so my brother can’t break them.

    4. well yeah. after the last corner cleared i’ve already breathed a sigh of relief when all of a sudden bent scored. oh well. can’t blame it on ref either. arsenal should have scored that penalty.

  3. my man-crush on Diego Forlan must be suspended for a game. for all the pain and annoyance they’ve inflicted on us over the years, i hope we tonk them; and that’s my prediction. 3-0. more important than our midfield setup will be our defense; Dani and Abidal need to be on-form (they haven’t been consistent lately) AS Puyol and Pique keep a tight watch on Forlan and runners from midfield. to that end i would totally expect to see Mascherano AND Busquets roll out for this game.

  4. Also watching that Arsenal game. Chamakh does look the business. Don’t think we would ever get him (we would probably buy Spanish player) but he has talent.

    Also, I was reading the last post comments about our “predictability” and I agree with Kxev. Guardiolas first year (the 6 title winning season!!!!) we took Europe by storm with the intensity in pressing and the usual Total Football approach from us. Rijkaard did a good job setting up the foundation, but Guardiola has raised expectations on each player, as far as dedication to that extremely high pressure pressing and the fluid movement from position to position.

    Teams have figured all that out. They have watched how we play and know that our weakness is the Mourinho/Hiddink bus parking and the tightening of the space that we use to operate in. Ibra seemed like an answer to that, but that’s water under the bridge. So I think Guardiola’s next challenge will be finding a solution with the players we have and using his tactical acutement to “out-wit” those coaches who will inevitably take that approach.

    A tough task, but we have revolutionized modern football with our approach, and I hope he can continue the evolution of Total Football and find an answer to “negative” tactics which has so far eluded lots of coaches.

  5. I think we need to have more confidence in our style of play. If we move the ball about at pace we can eventually break down any defence. We lost to Inter not because we couldn’t create chances but because we put in a sloppy defensive display in Milan. Bojan could’ve easily scored twice in the return.

    The Chelsea game was a bit more of an obstacle because they were some team – very physical – but Essien scored a one in a million goal for him to put us in trouble and with 10 men we ran them off the park before Iniesta eventually scored. Of course we carried a little luck but no more than any team does if they win the CL.

    And Ibra was certainly no answer to the parked bus . . . . .

    1. Why do you insist that because Ibra was sold, that he was not a good player for our system.
      It proves nothing other than he was sold. Period.

    2. Easy. You don’t sell players you feel can do a job for you. He was also facing at least part of the season on the bench where he finished the last. He knew that, Pep knew that, Milan knew that, most of Europe knew that and why some people here can’t see that I’m not sure.

      On the specifics he wasn’t a good player for our system ( as opposed to a good player generally which he is) because imo he lacked movement, his touch let him down too often, he spent half his life offside or outside the box and he didn’t put nearly enough effort into pressurising the opposition. To me, our fottball system suffered with him in it and improved when he wasn’t. Just my opinion.

      But we’ve been over this time and again. We’re not going to convince each other. I’d rather not talk about him again but people keep bringing up his name in unrelated posts to try to rewrite history which I confess brings out my contrary nature. i’ll try to curb these instincts from now on 🙂

    3. “You don’t sell players you feel can do a job for you.”

      We sold The Yaya, though, right? Tell me that Guardiola didn’t feel that he couldn’t do the job. Just as you suggest that some people here can’t see logic, they might counter that they don’t see why you can’t admit that he was a talented player who did indeed work in our system, until he apparently decided that he didn’t want to any longer, and discovered that “Messi rules” don’t work for him.

      “he spent half his life offside or outside the box and he didn’t put nearly enough effort into pressurising the opposition.”

      You’re also describing Villa’s play right now, I feel compelled to admit.

      Nobody is going to convince anyone. Ibrahimovic is gone. And he’s gone for reasons having nothing to do with talent, or 21 goals and 9 assists. The question isn’t rewriting history at all. It’s a simple admission that talent doesn’t always mean that a player is going to work in a system, if the attitude isn’t right. Mascherano is a perfect example of the right attitude.

    4. Ran chelsea off the park? how delusional are you , you had one shot on target ALL GAME and that was the iniesta shot while chelsea had a gazillion chances as you said you the CL winner’s luck and a certain ref on your side , if he makes the correct call then you never go to the finals

    5. We ran chelsea off the park with 10 men. literally. chelsea didnt come out to play, they deserved to lose to a shot like that. and at least that goal was legit by iniesta, inter got through us with an offside goal and 2 legit goals taken away from us, should’ve had back to back CL titles. but thats how it goes, refs arent perfect but we took chelsea down on that day.

    6. you need to rewatch the game , you had possession but were outplayed and how were you supposed to have back to back CLs when you didnt deserve the first one in the first place ?
      yea the ref screwed you against inter but chelsea got screwed against you what comes around goes around

    7. Alves was completely off with his crosses that game, but Valdes was a beast, repeatedly beating Drogba in 1 on 1s. And with 10 men Barca certainly looked like the team with the advantage.

      And darn, dimaria just scored.

    8. I dunno, Truth. Maybe our opinions on what it means to outplay a team differ.

      Personally, I felt we outplayed Chelsea because we had the lion’s share of possession and forced the full strength Chelsea to sit back and try and hit us on the counter, even when we were down to 10 men in the 2nd leg. It’s our opinion that the ones that have the ball are the ones that are on top, simply because if we have the ball, the opposition is screwed (how can they score if they don’t have the freaking ball?). I firmly believe we were the better team in the first leg especially because we had the most chances to score and, bar a very good Drogba chance, Chelsea didn’t have much chances.

      On the flip side, I can see where you’re coming from. While we had the ball the most of the time, we didn’t do much with it (particularly in the 2nd leg). I guess Chelsea fans would see it as a “defensive masterclass” in that they were very disciplined in the back and made life difficult for our offense. They also had penalties that would have otherwise been called somewhere else at a different time in a different match (of course I’m not saying they should have been given, but I use the cliche “I’ve seen them given”) In this sense, one could say Chelsea’s defense negated the offense.

      On the whole, I think fans and the media put a lot of emphasis on the 2nd leg (albeit understandably). The 1st leg, we had our share of penalties denied (the Henry tug stands) and non-calls (Ballack should have been sent off on a second yellow IMO) and we were called “whiners” while Chelsea was hailed for their defensive performance.

      In the end, luck has a lot to do with things like this. (Why the heck this post is so long, I don’t know. )

  6. my respects queen elisabeth… sorry but I have to point this out before even reading your royal preview. It’s just that one should not put the accent over the “é” in atleti 😉

  7. I also think we will roll out with more controlling line up. For me, it will be VV – Alves, Puyi, Pique, Adriano – Masch, Busi, Xavi – Iniesta, Messi, Villa.

    I hope Aguero plays. I like him and I want to defeat their first 11. I think the match depends on if we can control it. Their strategy is always to make the match chaotic and that suites them. Messi has had few storming games at VC and I am hoping for another one.

  8. Anyone else watching Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad? RS could be two up by now if not for some bad luck. Cronaldo practically invisible, likewise Higuain, best RM player is Xabi Alonso, who is being forced to play everywhere on the pitch to make up for everyone else. Casillas getting really pissed off at his “defense”.

    1. I am, somewhat. I am watching two games at once, hoping for Real Sociedad to win, Real Madrid to lose and Real Salt Lake to win.

    2. “Real Sociedad to win, Real Madrid to lose”

      Isn’t latter the consequence of the former? 😀

      I always jinx the opposition when I watch EE games, so I’m staying clear of the match. Lose EE!

    3. ozil’s pretty uch a spectator too. great game sociedad’s having. at least 8 corners for them i think.

    4. Ozil was great for the first 10 minutes, then disappeared into the woodwork. The only other player worth mentioning is Sergio Ramos who is doing his job well, but he’s not a striker.

  9. Yeah, watching those gilt-edged chances go begging really annoys after seeing that 1 shot, 1 goal business that recent underdogs have been pulling on us!

    And is it really strange for anyone else watching Tamudo play for a team that isn’t Espanyol?

    1. I hate Tamudo. Damn him! He’s a loser! A failure! A flop! A–a–a nc{iw%#][ubrnv^%$mks^%$p[oj

      (Yes, his equalizer is still fresh.)

  10. A Blast From the Past: Barca v Pathetico Atletico circa 2008. 6-1 with a Xavi – Bojan – Titi gem.

    Commentary: RayRay and an idiot.


  11. Helge, in response to your question in the last post about not playing for both Barça and Barça B on the same weekend… the rule is actually that you can’t play for both within 24 hours.

    The B match finished an hour before Barça’s match begins tomorrow, so Thiago is eligble.

    1. Thx very much for enlighten me. But I still doubt if it is reasonable to give Thiago any minutes against a strong team just 25 hours after his last match…

    1. That free kick wasn’t any indication of how good he is from free kicks. It deflected off Pepe’s back. Luck and power is all that was.

  12. I hope they give the goal to Pepe so that odious bastard can keep shooting 15 times a game.He really is shockingly single minded (Or should that be simple minded? ).Anoeta is rocking though! Great atmosphere.

    1. There hasn’t been a more perfect transfer in the world than Ronaldo to Madrid. Capturing everything terrible about that team in one player.

      And are real the luckiest fucking team in the world. A shanked deflected free kick, when the should have been down by a goal or two already…

      Oh well, really looking forward to the game tomorrow. Keita will start. He is Pep’s big game player.

      Maybe Puyol with Milito. Pique has looked a bit off to start the season.

    2. Puyol with Milito? No thanks. Pique has looked fine to me. A couple of laps in concentration, but that has happened to everyone. I don’t want Milito passing balls away like he tends to do to make up for Pique’s balls from the back.

  13. Ronaldo is supposed to be as good as Messi, yet he has 5 1 v 1s with a defender at the end of the match and can’t come up trumps once. Boo.

    Great match, shame Sociedad missed those chances, but you know how it goes against Madrid. You don’t take your chances, they eventually kill you.

    Great atmosphere, too. We will have a tough match on our hands when we face them.

    Now let’s go out and win tomorrow. Please.

  14. So I see just enough of the EE sham to see TB awarded a completely undeserved free kick, and of course it goes in. Even windsock Ray Hudson had nothing to say when he saw the replay of the “foul.” I understand Sociedad had their chances, and you have to take those when you get them. But still, they must be feeling hard done by.

    1. Oh Ray Hudson. His slobbering over certain teams makes it painful to watch the games he’s commenting for. Each time I watch a Gol TV broadcast, I pray that he has been fired/replaced, but I am thwarted each time.

      And yeah, Sociedad can curse luck, but they’d be better off placing the blame at their own door. Easy to blame the ref, but harder to blame yourself for failing to make the most of your chances.

    2. Gol TV espanol is the only way to go. Plus if you are doing something in the other room, you always know when there is a goal.

    3. i prefer to watch the game with espanol commentary even though the only spanish word i know is futbol or gracias. it helps me feel the emotion of the game. but actually, hearing them say the players’ names is good enough.

  15. Is it possible for the ‘technically inclined’ readers to upload these games on youtube under ‘private’ videos and the password known only to us?

    1. if there is a way to upload the full games onto youtube, but under ‘private’ so we can share the games easily without being detected and removed from youtube. Ive never been able to download those links you guys post.

    2. How come you can’t download those links?

      As for uploading games onto YouTube, that’s not really my specialty.

    3. Use Jdownloader, it groups up all the links and all you have to do is copy them as a block. It even extracts for you as well. Doesn’t take more than a few minutes, for me at least.

    4. That would be so cool! I’ve seen some people break up the videos in parts and upload it. For example, there’s a guy who uploaded the whole 2-6 in HD (albeit with Spanish commentary)

      Dunno if anyone would have the time or dedication to do that though…

    5. As Kari mentioned, the game would have to be split up. The time limit for each video is 15 minutes. If anyone has the time to record the game, split it, and then upload, I’d be impressed.

    6. @Bill Out of curiosity, have you tried torrents? I know the games are put up soon after they happen. I’m not sure about the quality, but I can’t imagine them being too different than what you would get streaming/watching off youtube.

    7. Nevermind, I was wrong; torrents probably aren’t a viable option. I did a quick search and found some torrents that looked ok, but upon further examination, I saw that A. not all games were up and B. weren’t full matches. D’oh.

  16. When Madrid plays first and wins .. Barcelona players feel the pressure and try to force a win .. looking hasty and trying to rush things .. I hope that’s not the case tomorrow ..

    I’d play Keita over Pedro for Tomorrow’s match with Xavi,Busq,Masch

    1. Since when is that true?

      I’ve never noticed Barça feeling the pressure after Madrid plays first and wins. Our players aren’t that weak mentally.

      And Keita in the lineup with both Busquets and Mascherano?

    2. I felt it last season maybe it was just me ..

      Yes, Keita with them Both .. The Ultimate Destroyers 😀 .. But Probably Only two of them will start along Xavi,Iniesta,Messi and Villa

  17. btw, anybody see that freak cesc goal from today? guy has been showing a knack for scoring since last season.

    1. Saw it, but that’s all it was–a freak goal. It showed the merit of closing down opposition defenders, especially in the EPL. Arsenal will really benefit if they can keep that up, seeing how technically inept many EPL defenders are.

  18. Looks like Kun is still a serious doubt, because according to Quique, if he isn’t fully fit, he won’t play. I really hope he doesn’t. I feel like they lose a lot with him out.

    Forget beating their best eleven and all that noble stuff, I just want to win.

    1. Well of course Quique would say that! Coaches always say “so-and-so might not be fit”, or “we won’t risk them if they’re not 100%” and other bullcrap like that, only for said player to start game.

      I fully expect Kun to start. Forlan, Simao and Reyes as well.

    2. True, but in this case, I tend to believe Quique because you have to be careful with Kun. His muscle injuries tend to pile up and niggle him throughout the season if he isn’t fully healthy.

      We’ll see.

  19. If anyone gets a chance, that Capuano goal for Catania against Milan today is crazy. Like Sociedad, they had the opportunity to slay the giants, and choked it away.

    1. Yeah, I saw the game too. Milan got lucky, as their goal could just as easily have been called offside. Nice assist from Ronaldinho in any case.

    2. “With Pato, Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho and Robinho in attack, there is no team left that is superior to us”
      Yeah, obviosuly you’re right, Galliani, they’ve just been as good as your unstoppable, but defense-lacking team 😀

  20. To be honest, I am really nervous about this one. We need to start the liga right, and this test come in at such timing is going to be a really tough one as we are not in our 100% yet. Certainly, if we fail this test, we will be many points behind, which is not good.

    I can see we will be playing our best Tiki-Taka with the best Tiki-Taka line-up. SMasch will not be in if that’s the case. I agree with comments saying the freekicks will hurt us dearly because if they hit you with a world-class free kick, you can’t do much. So, I’d still say the line-up will be the classic:
    Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell
    Xavi Iniesta
    Messi Villa Pedro

    Some say Maxwell has more attacking tendency, I am still not sure about that. He does get forward more often right now, but he can’t really do a lot of damage. Would love to see him dart forward like Abidal has been doing more often lately. When I compare Abidal and Maxwell, I can still see an obvious speed difference. But Maxwell is fine playing a solid defensive game to keep things quiet on the left.

    I’d say their key player is still Forlan, but Reyes is another huge player that will hurt us when they hit us on counters, possible could hurt us worse than Simao could. Dude dribbles well, make decisions wisely and simply make plays happen.

    but nope, we don’t doubt our players, and i trust our coach. I am sure he will get our players ready for a serious game of possession. We will be at our best tomorrow. Let’s play those Patheticos out of their park.

    Pathetico 1-3 Barca (Messi, Messi, Villa)

  21. Oh damn it!
    How lucky was Real Madrid once again? They took 3 points from a very bad match with the help of a doubtful CR freekick, deflected by Pepe. But the media reports “CR is back”, “CR blasts Real to victory”, “CR saves Real Madrid” etc.
    Let’s all hail this greatest footballer of all time, this hero of all the boulevard press, this ******* *****!

    Seriously, if we don’t win today, the way Real Madrid won will make our defeat even more bitter.

    Di Maria’s goal was brilliant, though. Sad to see him play for the EE, because I used to be a big fan of him 🙁

    1. Agree on both .. The Media is all about headlines .. When They wrote “CR won Real the match with a thunderous free kick” I had something else in mind till I saw it .. And The poor guy that said his goal was lucky, everyone gave him Thumbs Down!

      Di Maria’s goal was indeed brilliant and I also USED to be a fan of him ..

    1. Yeah, it seems so. And the bear obviously LOVES apples.
      Every day we can learn something new here on 😀

  22. @clivee

    I believe Smasch is more capable playing tiki taka than Keitee.
    But of course Busi is far more superior than Smash

  23. hehe, this one is so true and funny:

  24. line-up:


    That’s the line-up we will roll out with, depending on 2 positions. Key to beat Atletico is keeping no space between lines and hence we need something close to a double pivot, so either two of Busquets,Masche and Keita have to play.
    Pedro makes little sense in this game.

    1. I can see why you say that, and it is an option, but I’m still reluctant to see Iniesta shunted out of his midfield spot. We need to develop our system so that both the FBs don’t feel they need to be up the park at the same time. Then we have the spare man either to come across to the middle to snuff out the counter or come into the middle to allow the CBs to shuffle across to deal with counters coming down the other wing.

  25. So I was looking at the TV guide this morning, and it said that ESPN 2 was playing something ridiculous like “timbersports series” at 1:00 pm. Am I going crazy, or are we about to get screwed out of a game on TV?

    1. On a related note, Villareal just scored against Levante, Valencia is one up over Hercules, and Valencia may just have the ugliest goalkeeper’s kit I have ever seen.

  26. Anybody else watching the Chelsea-Blackpool game. They are in ridiculously good form right now. We have as many if not more threatening players than they do. Why the hell don’t we have more goals coming from different sources on the team. I think some shooting practice is in order for some of our people.

    Sorry but I just had to rant a little. Just hard to watch teams we’re better than seemingly showing more diversity in attack.

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