Attack of the Danes: Barça – Copenhagen

CL Preview: Barça – Copenhagen, Wednesday 2:45pm EST, Fox Deportes

Without looking, name me a Copenhagen player. Can’t do it? Didn’t think so. Without looking, where are they in the Danish top flight? Can’t do it? Didn’t think so. Without looking, what’s the official name of the Danish top flight? Well, I’m here to answer all of these questions and more. But first, a quick run down of how things are going in Champions League Group D.

1. FC Copenhagen: 6pts, 2-0-0 (3GF, 0GA)
2. FC Barcelona: 4pts, 1-1-0 (6GF, 2GA)
3. Rubin Kazan: 1pt, 0-1-1 (1GF, 2GA)
4. Panathinaikos: 0pts, 0-0-2 (1GF, 7GA)

What this means is that the Danish visit tomorrow is important to the final outcome of the group. I’m surprised that Copenhagen is at the top, but only because I’m surprised that they’ve been able to out-attack everyone they’ve encountered; thing is, that shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re top of the Danish Superliga by 12 points after just 12 matches. They’re 10-2-0 (29GF, 8GA) and haven’t failed to win since September 11 when they drew 2-2 with Silkeborg IF. So they know how to defend and they know how to attack. Hmm.

Who are they, though, as individuals? I…I don’t know. 2 of their 3 Champions League goals have been scored by Senegalese striker Dame N’Doye, but his Danish Superliga stats aren’t stunning (25 goals in 55 appearances) and he’s never played for any national team. Perhaps he’s extra motivated in the Champions League because he used to play for Panathinaikos, before they decided he wasn’t good enough for them. Perhaps not, of course.

Their captain is Hjalte Nørregaard, a 29-year old Danish international central midfielder who made a brief foray into the Dutch league with a year at Heerenveen before returning to his youth team and earning the armband. They also typically start César Santin, a 29-year old Brazilian journeyman who has a similar goalscoring record to N’Doye. He scored a hat trick this past weekend in a 5-0 drubbing of OB. N’Doye also got an injury time goal to put the final cherry on top of the demolition sundae they served up.

I don’t claim to have much knowledge about them–and sadly I missed their first 2 CL matches–but to take them for granted or to suggest they don’t deserve to be where they are in Group D is to underestimate them and risk losing to them. Guardiola won’t do that–if I know him, and boy do I, he’ll watch some of their matches–and I think we’ll see the best possible lineup against them.

Speaking of which, both Xavi and Puyol trained normally today even though the former is still not fully recovered. It would be foolish, I think, to risk Xavi despite the importance of this game because the next 31 league matches are more important than a single CL match. If playing him is risking the rest of his season or career, the match against Copenhagen isn’t the one to risk them on. Let Xavi rest and let a midfield of Iniesta, Keita, Busi, and Mascherano take over for a match, eh? We’re playing a 4-4-2 anyway, so why not put that out there fronted by Villa and Messi? It’s not a real 4-4-2, of course, but a dynamic 4-3-3 or even 3-4-3 or, as I like to call it, ?-?-?. You know where Valdes will be, but no one else.

Milito is still injured, so that pretty much ensures a back line of Pique and Puyol. The wing backs are obviously Alves and someone else on the left, who I think will be Abidal this time around because Maxwell started the last match. So, the whole lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busi, Masch, Keita, Iniesta, Messi, Villa. And naturally Guardiola will say nuh-uh to that and field like Miño, Bartra, Puyol, Pique, Jeffren, Gudjohnsen, Stoichkov, Guardiola, Xavi, Messi, Villa or something similar.

Doesn’t much matter, we’re at home and we’re going to win. And I’m going to enjoy it because that’s the sort of thing I do when we win. Official Prediction: 2-0. It won’t be easy and I expect them to threaten us several times, but I think we’ll get out of this one with a clean sheet. Goals by Messi and Villa. Yup.

Time: Wednesday, 8:45pm local/Barcelona, 2:45pm EST/NYC, check your local time here.
TV: In the US, it’s on Fox Deportes (formerly Fox Soccer en Español). Apparently it’s on TV3+ in Denmark, so there’s that.
Weather: ~63F (17C) at the start of the match, dropping into the high 50s throughout. 0% chance of rain until late. Should be a beautiful night, but they’ll have to get the sprinklers going to speed up the pitch.

Would you like to run a liveblog of this event? If so, let me know via email or in the comments and we’ll get you all set up. Awesome.

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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.

90 Comments

  1. jnelson
    October 19, 2010

    This is going to be an interesting match. Still waiting on Bojan to put one in the back of the net!

  2. Eduard
    October 19, 2010

    what’s the update on Pedro, can he get the call up for the game?

    • October 19, 2010

      Squad lineup: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Adriano, Abidal, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Mascherano, Keita, Sergio, Xavi, Iniesta, Jeffren, Pedro, Villa, Bojan, Messi and Thiago.

      So yes, Pedro is available.

    • ooga aga
      October 19, 2010

      he played against valencia, so probably…

  3. jason
    October 19, 2010

    evrybody go to the guardian website and help xavi out for 4 best midfielders ever..there is no way i’m letting stevie g be in that side

  4. Helge
    October 19, 2010

    Gronkjaer? Laersen (or sth. like that)?

    That are my two guesses for Copenhagen players without looking 🙂

  5. ooga aga
    October 19, 2010

    interesting article on thiago, for those who can read spanish:

    *http://www.marca.com/blogs/el-apunte/2010/10/14/el-dilema-de-thiago.html

    an excerpt:
    “Thiago se encuentra en una fase crítica de su carrera, a pesar de su juventud. No es fácil controlar esa especie de caballo salvaje que es la fama temprana, la adulación de la prensa y la presión del mercado. Lo fácil es distraerse. El mundo del fútbol está lleno de tempranas víctimas, de jugadores que no cumplieron con los pronósticos o fueron devorados por una maquinaria muy poco piadosa con los errores. A Thiago y su entorno les corresponde manejar con sensatez una situación muy delicada para un chico de 19 años.”

    • Jnice
      October 19, 2010

      Nice article.

      I like how Pep is bringing him along, though. Couple that with the guidance of his father like Segurola says, and I think he won’t be one of the young talents that fall by the wayside.

  6. Ciaran
    October 19, 2010

    Does anyone else think that Thiago and Nolito have passed out Jonathan and Jeffren? I know Jeffren has a squad number so can’t play for the B team but Nolito is certainly more dangerous than Jeffren. Thiago has gotten more playing time this season than Jonathan and continually impresses.
    I would like a starting XI leaving some ammunition on the bench for just in case time.
    Valdes
    Alves Pique Puyol Abidal
    Thiago Busquets Iniesta
    Messi Bojan Villa

    That way we’d have Keita, Pedro & Xavi to call upon for the second half if needed and if not then Xavi gets another match rest as does Pedro who is still not 100% one must assume.

    One question for readers, assuming Messi is better as a no.9 as Guardiola thinks, are Barcelona better with Messi as a no.9?
    I believe that we are better with Messi starting wide against smaller teams because he gets more 1-on-1s out wide than in the center.

    • jnelson
      October 19, 2010

      IMO The most effective lineup has Messi and Villa as FWDs and 4 MIDs. I think as the season grows on, Bojan will emerge as the 9 and push Messi back to the R, where he is best. If we have a threat down the center and left, how could Messi not thrive on the right? I do think P! will not be a starter much and Villa will never be a full 9. None of which is a bad thing.

    • Jnice
      October 19, 2010

      I don’t know if they have necessarily passed out on them. For Jeffren it’s a case of bad luck with injuries, which has affective his start to the season. Without rhythm, it’s hard to be consistent even in training and get a chance to play in matches.

      As for Jonathan, I think he will get his chances later in the season when he shows some consistency for Luis Enrique. Thiago has put in great performances for Spain youth, and I’m sure he has been training really well, otherwise he wouldn’t consistently train with the first squad. Jonathan will get his chance, though.

      I don’t know how much of Nolito we will actually see with the first team because in numbers, we have 5 attackers already and unless there is injury, Nolito is too vital to the B team for Pep to be wasting him on the bench. Plus, he looked okay against Mallorca, but we haven’t actually seen much of him against top flight competition (though segunda sides are no slouches.)

    • Clue(less)
      October 20, 2010

      to answer the question in your first sentence, the answer is a resounding yes.

  7. Jnice
    October 19, 2010

    I so hope Thiago starts or at least gets a significant amount of time on the pitch. I also hope we take our chances tomorrow and Villa scores the 1v1 he will surely have since he’s had one almost every match.

  8. GREECE BARCA
    October 19, 2010

    it s time tiago be a starter!i have faith to jnice about that!we don.t need the full squad to beat that team!

  9. BA
    October 19, 2010

    colour me cocky, but i think we’re going to crush this team.

  10. GREECE BARCA
    October 19, 2010

    my line up:valdez,adriano,puyol,abidal,maxwell,mache,iniesta,tiago,messi,villa,pedro.i wish pep rest alvez and pique.

  11. barca96
    October 19, 2010

    VJ posted a link on the other post but it was the last so I guess not many have seen it. It is a hilarious article on Rooney and Jr. Here it is.
    **http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/blog/dirty-tackle/post/DT-Exclusive-How-Rooney-decided-to-leave-Manche?urn=sow-278255

    • Vj
      October 20, 2010

      That and this:
      ||http://www.studs-up.com/2010/09/tit-for-tat/

  12. barca96
    October 19, 2010

    -I would rather roll out with a cautious midifeld in;
    Busi–Iniesta—SMasch/Keita.
    Only when we are secure, put Thiago in. It’s risky to start a young inexperienced player in an away match.

    -I don’t understand why some people here and other blogs suggests that Nolito is better than JDS. We haven’t even seen much on Nolito yet. JDS played for the 1st since last season. Give JDS some more time. That kind of player takes more time & experience to grow just like Xavi, Iniesta & Cesc.
    -Speaking of JDS, I read on Pep’s blog that Zaragoza seems to be interested in Zaragoza. I’m gonna start praying for JDS to stay now.

    -Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk): “I would say Arsenal are performing even better than FC Barcelona now.”
    I guess he hasn’t actually watched us play but instead just look at the “scores”. FOOL!!

  13. GREECE BARCA
    October 19, 2010

    i made the mistake to read ramzi.s preview in offside.i am going to sleep now to forget that and i hope no having nightmares with me celebrating our loss in C.L final screaming”yea you motherf.. rosell we lost!go out now”

  14. blitzen
    October 19, 2010

    A quote from Pep’s news conference, from the official site:

    Going back to the Assembly and the vote to proceed with investigations of the previous Board of Directors, the Barça manager made it clear that this in no way has to have a negative effect on the players. “The fans can be assured that the players will keep responding as they do. It’s only natural for them to talk, because something like this has never happened before. There’s a strong wind blowing, and the sooner it dies down the better. I hope it’s all over as quickly as possible. But I can guarantee that it won’t affect the team, I’ll be making sure of that myself.”

  15. Clue(less)
    October 19, 2010

    I have seen this team play and they are super fun to watch, one of their ‘play in’ games to get in the CL they peppered like 30 shots on goal, it was sweet. Nothing fancy, but solid at what they do. Its almost to bad they have a shot at making it out the group, because they will almost certainly park the bus and play for a point against us, even though it is completely not in their nature. I also love their forwards and their buildup play, they fly….Kinda a poor mans Valencia.MIND YOU, I HAVE ONLY SEEN THEM TWICE, BUT I EFFIN’ LOVE THEM AND HOPE THEY COME TO PLAY WITH US. If they play as they normally do this is gonna be a barn burner and we may see a 6-2 score, and we all know how much we love 6-2 scores.

  16. Clue(less)
    October 19, 2010

    By the way, I just re watched Valencia v Barca second half with a bottle of lotion and a box of tissues, we are still the best team in the world when we put it all together.

  17. Jnice
    October 19, 2010

    Revista De La Liga 10-19-10

    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=O0Z1JYMY

    or

    *http://www.fileserve.com/file/Uk5s6wd

    Credit to samik86 at fbtz.com

  18. vicsoc8
    October 19, 2010

    Man would I love to see Guardiola on the pitch. He may be 39 and he’s certainly not match fit, but I’m sure he still has it.

    • jnelson
      October 19, 2010

      I second that. I have no doubt he could still hold his own. You know Pep’s in shape and still gets touches during practice. Having him call his own number would be awesome. Unfortunately, you have to let the young’uns play.

  19. Spiro
    October 20, 2010

    Oh I hope Mascherano plays tomorrow/tonight, really like to see what he can do, maybe he might open up a spot in the Xavi role in the near future (as a backup of course) it will only help make the team even stronger, Yaya provided that last season, and well Pep was building him up last season, seems like maybe Yaya can be replaced after all.

    Im surprised Pep didn’t call up any B-team defenders, does this mean Maxwell or Adriano at LB again?

    Also indicates Puyol is fit enough to start too. hopefully

  20. barca96
    October 20, 2010

    Apparently we rejected Rooney for January transfer in favor of team B players. And
    I want Smasch-Busi-Iniesta midfield later. If Iniesta has to play LW, then it would be
    Busi–Smash-Keita=ultra defensive.
    If we need some crativity, throw Thiago in.

  21. Eklavya
    October 20, 2010

    You ALL got your lineups WRONG! Why? Cause VV got fever over the night and won’t play tonight!!

  22. Jim
    October 20, 2010

    Seems Valdes is out for tonight’s game according to Barcastuff. Should be okay given the type of game and may actually keep the defence motivated to concentrate for the whole game to avoid Pinto being tested. However, the fever and stomach upset could be something that spreads – hope not.

  23. barca96
    October 20, 2010

    And Pepe isn’t helping squashing the rumors regarding him joining us which I think is really unlikely.

  24. Eklavya
    October 20, 2010

    Rijkaard got fired from Galastraywhatever.

    • blitzen
      October 20, 2010

      If this is true…I bet he replaces Uncle Roy at Liverpool.

  25. GREECE BARCA
    October 20, 2010

    frank made a mistake going to turkey.i wish him to coach a big club..i believe pep want rooney!let s see what happen!

    • Spiro
      October 20, 2010

      100% agree with you there, Turkish league isn’t as good as people think it is, and it leads many to a dead end.

      If only Frank got fired earlier so he could go to AEK, but Jimenez was hired last week instead (which isn’t a bad thing anyway).

  26. GREECE BARCA
    October 20, 2010

    hehe AEK is my favorite team here.himenez is a good coach btw!but as turkish also the greek league is not good.many good coaches fired after some games.do you remember ten kate?he was assistant of frank in barca.he made a good work in pana but they fired him without logical reason.

    • Spiro
      October 20, 2010

      yes I agree both leagues are just as bad as the other. Some clubs are controlled too much by the minority groups and politics just takes over everything.

      someone high up must of made the decision to fire Ten Cate, don’t know why, but I bet it has nothing to do with football reasons.

  27. Clue(less)
    October 20, 2010

    Some random thoughts:

    -Just thought I would point out that Douglas Costa has 2 assists and a goal in 3 CL games thus far, albeit against Braga. Champions League points are impressive no matter who the opposition is. In all fairness he was rather invisible against the Arsenal.

    -I feel bad for Jack Wilshere, for the first tine in 950 years the English have something really special that is homegrown, I just hope he continues on this amazing level and the English media canonizing him the next “______” insert great English player will not prove to be to much pressure for the young man. A lot easier to give Cesc up next year if Wilshere is playing like he is now.

    -How amazing is Arsene Wenger, tactically and fiscally. Sure he stole our system, then our philosophy and finally his ‘fly by night youth talent grabbing is second to none’, but credit is given where credit is due. He is like the Bobby Cox of football, always a winner, but never (read rarely) winning the big one. He is running a very profitable business/team that features a combination of solid youth products such as Gibbs and Wilshere, reasonably priced mid level players playing way beyond anyones expectaions such as Marouane Chamakh, who came to them ON A FREE!!!! And their BIG MONEY move investments, such as Nasri €12.5 million and €15.2 Andre Areshvin (reportedly only a million euros less than Barca bid)are pretty damn good players. Hell they even have a poor mans Yaya Toure in Abu Diabi!!!! A bunch of quality players at a reasonable prices, and it shows as they reported an operating profit of over £50 million. It is pretty obvious, according to English media (if that’s what you want to call them), or so it would seem, that Barca and Arsenal have a deal in place for somewhere around €35 million that would bring that cool ass midfielder who really wants to be back home playing (of course this is all speakeasy for Fran Merida lol). We could even give them Hleb back as a makeweight, something that Guardiola would surly find difficult to do. So I just wanted to take a second to kina salute a great Manager and a well run club, that may not win a shit ton of trophies, but play watchable football, make a ton of money, and always end up in the top 4.

    • ariston
      October 20, 2010

      a great read clue(less)! somehow wenger seems able to replace anyone he sold, even though it took a longer time. he had flamini and cesc to step up when he sold vieira, and now wilshere looks set to replace cesc (i still don’t want cesc to come to barca, but it looks inevitable, so yeah).

      hope wilshere can continue with his progress, unlike rooney.

  28. GREECE BARCA
    October 20, 2010

    so do you want some day arsene coaching us??

    • ariston
      October 20, 2010

      i don’t think wenger is a great tactician. he usually lost against big teams, somehow.

  29. blitzen
    October 20, 2010

    Never mind about Valdes, we’ll be fine with Pinto. And we have a backup as well–apparently in training this week Pique took a turn in net and let people take shots at him. Defender, forward, now keeper–is there anything Pique can’t do? 😀

    • Jnice
      October 20, 2010

      I don’t know if we are necessarily fine with Pinto. The way he played around with the ball in preseason worries me a bit. Just CLEAR the damn ball, Pinto. Don’t try to dribble past players or whatever the heck you do that gets you in trouble.

      • blitzen
        October 20, 2010

        Yeah, but Valdes has done a little of that, too. Pinto will be playing it very careful in this game, and as long as our defense doesn’t make any silly mistakes (I’m looking at YOU, Pique!) I am not too worried.

  30. GREECE BARCA
    October 20, 2010

    i don.t want to see one thing tonight:xavi in the starting line up or as a sub.please pep don.t risk with him.

    • Jnice
      October 20, 2010

      If Xavi starts today, I think Thiago starts Saturday against last place Zaragoza.

      • October 20, 2010

        I think you’re wrong about Thiago. He simply isn’t going to start in a CL or Liga match until much later in the season. He’ll start against Ceuta in the Copa.

        • Jnice
          October 20, 2010

          Don’t see why he wouldn’t start against Zaragoza. They are woeful. He will get a start in La Liga soon enough. Later in the season isn’t necessarily a better time than now, especially when the stakes will be much higher then.

          • Miguel
            October 20, 2010

            remember that thiago has to be registered as a first team player in order for the additional 2 yrs on his contract + his 30 million buy-out clause to kick in, otherwise it runs out in 2011. jonathan dos santos’ contract was renewed to 2012, which is why his promotion to the first team has been put on the back burner, me thinks.

  31. Spiro
    October 20, 2010

    Barcastuff twitter updated that Sport is reporting Xavi will start tonight. :S

    don’t know if its true, but I want to see Mascherano! instead

    • October 20, 2010

      Dude, *I* tweeted that first. Obviously Sport beat us all to it.

      Also, Mascherano doesn’t get an exclamation point after his name. Only Pedro! does.

      • Kari
        October 20, 2010

        Unless you say something cheesy like HULK sMASCH!, in which case, I would be okay with.

        But only once. Or twice. Maybe thrice, but that’s it.

      • Blow-Grenade
        October 20, 2010

        Oh yeah,… Mascherano get’s the ‘s’ prefix – sMasch(cherano)

  32. Jim
    October 20, 2010

    Don’t think we can leave Xavi out altogether but I’d be happier with him starting on bench and only brought on if needed.

  33. Kari
    October 20, 2010

    My random, totally not thought out lineup:

    Pinto
    Alves – Pique – Puyol – Abidal
    Xavi – Busi – Keita
    Messi – Villa – Iniesta

    P! on the bench as a destabilizer and sMasch as a “Calm this sh*t down by destroying everything that’s causing problems” option, if necessary.

  34. Helge
    October 20, 2010

    OMG! And Sport now says that Xavi could be rested in Zaragoza and attend the Prince of Asturia awards or sth. like that.
    I’d rather wanted it the other way round :/

  35. October 20, 2010

    I also believe Pep will start our best possible lineup because if we win this one, we won’t need to chase.

    So…

    Pinto
    Alves Pique Puyol Abidal
    Busquets
    Xavi Keita
    Messi Villa Iniesta

    Sub: Pedro(Keita), Mascherano(Villa), Thiago(Xavi)

    We will see how it goes. If we are good tonight, we will finish the match before half time and give Thiago some Champions League minutes. but if not, we will have to keep playing Xavi which isn’t what we want to see. But either way, if we keep our possession, we won’t lose.

  36. Tajh
    October 20, 2010

    Man i hate this cablevision-news corp feud now all my fox channels are gone meaning I will now miss a Barca game for the very 1st time!!! 🙁

  37. Josep
    October 20, 2010

    Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Alves Pique Puyol Abidal – Busquets Mascherano Maxwell – Iniesta Messi Villa #fcblive

    barcastuff: thiago is the 19th player who’s not included in the match squad #fcblive

    Wow, no Thiago. Pretty interesting..

    • Miguel
      October 20, 2010

      two left-backs, or maxwell playing the keita role, is the interesting part.

      • Miguel
        October 20, 2010

        pep did that for a few @the end of the valencia game after seeing how well it worked for unai emery in the first half.

        *http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/10/19/barcelona-2-1-valencia-tactics/

  38. Goo
    October 20, 2010

    Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Alves Pique Puyol Abidal – Busquets Mascherano Maxwell – Iniesta Messi Villa (from Pep’s twitter)

    Intersting line-up, and more importantly, no Xavi.

    • ooga aga
      October 20, 2010

      THIAGO has been left out. not on the bench.
      “En el banquillo azulgrana habrá Miño, Adriano, Xavi, Keita, Jeffren, Bojan y Pedro. El descartado es Thiago Alcántara. “

      • blitzen
        October 20, 2010

        He kind of had to leave Thiago out, since he needed to have Mino as a backup for Pinto.

        • Jnice
          October 20, 2010

          Well, I don’t think that’s why since Mino takes Pinto’s spot on the bench anyway.

          I guess with Keita and Xavi on the bench, Thiago was never going to get in.

  39. Roz
    October 20, 2010

    wierd 4-4-2? I expect Iniesta to move around raise hell a little.

  40. Helge
    October 20, 2010

    Thank God that sport.es doesn’t have any credible sources, it seems 😀

    Go Mascherano!!!

  41. Kxevin
    October 20, 2010

    That is the “none shall pass” midfield, and with Pique and Abidal as sweepers, Pinto will be able to go out for lunch.

    • Josep
      October 20, 2010

      I’m sure Pinto will try to bring lunch 1v1 with a defender though. He makes me nervous.

      With Pinto in is Kobenhavn more likely to attack now?

      • Kxevin
        October 20, 2010

        They aren’t getting past midfield.

  42. poipoi
    October 20, 2010

    4-4-2 hell yeah!!! a team fro iniesta custom made it looks. he’ll play as 10!! oh yesss

  43. Kxevin
    October 20, 2010

    And where the hell’s the liveblog?

  44. Tajh
    October 20, 2010

    if anyone has an English stream please post….

  45. October 20, 2010

    We don’t have a LiveBlog, but we do have a match comments post, that’s brandy new. Post away.

  46. Vj
    October 20, 2010

    Ughh Pinto’s braids match with the stripes on his jersey… YUCK!

  47. Culer_Than_Thou
    October 20, 2010

    Anybody got streams? please?

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