Copa Attack: Ceuta-Barça

This a beautiful picture that I hope contains no Barça players at the end of the day...

Remember the assistant coach who was sent off during the Zaragoza match on Saturday? He’s Mohammed Ali Amar, better known as Nayim, a B team and then first team player born in a small autonomous city on the North African coast called Ceuta. There wasn’t anything especially amazing about Nayim’s career (7 league appearances with Barça, FYI, according to Wikipedia) except that he popped back up suddenly as assistant coach in a game agaust the blaugrana–and also played really well for while in England and Spain, but who’s counting that?–in a match just before Barça helicoptered over to his hometown for a Copa del Rey match.

Ceuta. The name doesn’t ring any bells, which is weird, because I’m pretty into geography and random Spanish colonial outposts, but a quick check of the history shows it wasn’t even a part of Spain proper until 1668 and who has time to study the modern Spanish autonomous cities all over the world. Oh, there are only 2? Melilla? Never heard of it. Doesn’t exist. What is this Ceuta, anyway? Must be some recently-founded place no one has ever heard of. It was founded in the 5th century BC by the Carthigians and called Abyla? Oh.

Still, no one has heard of it. Like actually read about it or the people who lived there. It was the home of Julian, Count of Ceuta? Well, sure, he was the Count of Ceuta of course–oh and his role in the Umayyad conquest of Hispania was pivotole and pretty much changed the course of history in North Africa, Spain, and by extension the rest of the world because of unclear problems with Roderic, Visigothic king of Spain that were most likely local politics playing out on a grander scale? Well, all right, so there’s something to this place, perhaps. Perhaps.

Basically, the history of Ceuta is fascinating and you should Wiki-wander around to learn about this city of 75,000 on the Península de Almina. There’s an old fort on the top of Mt. Hacho that was built by the Byzantines and later used by the Spanish. The city itself looks awash in various architectural wonderness (wonderitude, if you will) thanks to its ever-changing social and political landscape. And apparently its very existence causes problems between Spain and Morrocco because, well, everyone wants port cities. Like with Gibraltar, I don’t get the Spanish dogmatic approach to regional politics (or, conversely, the Morrocan one) and, as an ardent “I don’t give a poop about what land is in what country”-ist, I won’t get into it. Suffice to say that you can spend your entire afternoon following links and learning about a single, small city on the North African coast. And I say small despite it being nearly 10 times the size of my hometown–the current city I live in has 75,000 in view of my window, that’s all.*

Out of all this history, then, comes the modern city and its modern accoutrement, such as AD Ceuta. But, of course, it’s the team that has little history. Founded in 1996, it’s so young it’s not allowed to smoke in states where you can smoke when you’re in high school (Ohio, feel free to raise your hand here) and it wouldn’t get into R-rated movies either (Ohio, you can put your hand down now, don’t act like you card at movie theaters). Their head coach–José Diego Pastelero Corbacho–doesn’t appear to have been a professional player (though it’s unclear since he started managing at the age of 52), but has coached at Jerez CF (not to be confused with Xerez, mind you) and UD Melilla, meaning he’s a right veteran of the Spanish autonomous city Sengunda B world.

And that’s where Ceuta sits, in 5th after 10 games in Group 4 of the Segunda B. It’s below our youth team, which means that we have to be on our toes for any Alcorconazo-like moments. Their squad is pulled mainly from the Cape Verdes, which sounds terrible, but I’m sure someone can name some famous player from there who is escaping my mind at the moment. Okay, yeah, I googled that. Nani is from Cape Verde? The squad appears to be mostly washouts from bigger teams like Auxerre, Boca Juniors, and even Osasuna. And they’ve got a goalie named Fock. Yup. Just Fock. I hope he plays so the jeers are so much easier on this side of the Atlantic. Did I mention Fock is from the Cape Verdes? He is.

Our squad list is out, so let’s focus on that and completely move away from talking about Ceuta, which I know nothing about. Pinto, Puyol, Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano, Mascherano, Keita, Bojan, Jeffren, Pedro, Miño, Bartra, Fontàs, Thiago, Jonathan dos Santos, Nolito.

The first teamer players not making the trip are Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, and Villa, which means that we’re looking at a fairly mixed lineup of starters and B-teamers. I think that’s a solid way to do it. Put the youngsters out there with a backbone of good support and let them earn some minutes while still ensuring a solid result (and thus also ensuring the kiddies get more minutes in the second leg). I think that the Segunda A action will help the youngsters come in and get through this particular round easily enough.

The lineup I’m hoping to see is this: Miño, Adriano, Fontas, Abidal, Maxwell, Mascherano, JDS, Thiago, Jeffren, Bojan, Nolito. Perhaps “hoping” isn’t the right word, but it’s what I’d put out there, in all of my infinite wisdom and inability to think as well as Guardiola. Pedro gets the bench treatment because, well, we need him more against Sevilla than we do against Ceuta, who he’ll see playing time against as a super sub. Keita would be a good addition to the midfield, of course, but I’m keeping him on the bench for no reason whatsoever other than I want to see how Thiago and JDS operate together.

Official Prediction: 1-2. They’re going to be playing their hearts out and, as Guardiola says, this is a very dangerous match because it’s easy to take lightly. You have to play hard (and that’s a reason to start Keita) and you have to take it seriously, tactically. Of course, the problem is that they’re in Segunda B and we should beat them–but that’s not hubris. Levante and Zaragoza should beat them too, but as we saw last year, that doesn’t always happen. Alcorcon was real. Real Union was real too. Is Ceuta good enough to hang with us? I guess we’ll find out soon.

Time: Tuesday, 10pm local time, 4pm EST/NYC, check your local time here.
TV: Here in the US, the game is on GolTVHD and ESPN3.
Weather: 63F (17C), 0% chance of rain.

And if you count the skyline, then a million is probably a more accurate count. I have a great view, is what I’m saying.

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. More Barca clothes! I shouldn’t have watched the warmup before Zaragoza, dammit. Because now on the way to me is one of the red pre-match tops, and that boss-ass track jacket.

    Meanwhile, here’s my starting lineup:

    Adriano, Puyol, Abidal, Maxwell
    Mascherano, Thiago, Dos Santos
    Jeffren Krkic Nolito

    1. Yes, this is the lineup I would go with, too. Start Puyol so the kids get the benefit of his experience, then maybe sub him for Fontas at the half if everything is going as it should.

      Really hoping both Jeffren and Bojan can score!

  2. hahaha isaiah how can you write previews and make people smile?amazing!great post!i will not have the chance to see the game here in greece.i wish a good play by the youngs!

  3. Fuggg Shaka Hislop, Izzy, if ur in Bristol today blogging away slap him, predicting RM victory in El Clasico. grrrrr

  4. Whats the deal with Bartra? Last I saw him, I believe, was in the loss last year to Patetico. He was amazing in that match at RB.. did he get injured this offseason? I really don’t remember.

    1. He plays regularly for the B team. In the summer he was involved in the European u19 tournament with Spain.

  5. He is doing a live chat on Soccernet, and said Real Madrid were to impressive for Barca, and predicted a EE win lol. But your right its to early. Although I eloquently disagreed, and asked him if Ronaldo had ever got past Pique or has DiMaria ever been pushed inside by a Caveman, to his weaker foot? Does Messi magic count for anything in the rivalry, lord knows there is no Ronaldo magic to be found in the clash yet. Of course, it was not published. Prolly cause my first question was who would win in a bar fight Gerrard of Andy Carrol?!!!

  6. Pinto
    Bartra Puyol Fontas Adriano
    Thiago Masch JDS
    Jeffren Nolito Bojan

    Is that you on the boat Isaiah? It looks like you… (as if I’ve seen your back a million times).

    1. You cannot start more than four reserve players at a time. So either Bartra or JDS should be out of you list.

  7. My preferred lineup would have Mino instead of Pinto but I think Pinto will get the start.
    Adriano Fontas Puyol Abidal
    Thiago Mascherano Keita
    Pedro Bojan Nolito

    Adriano needs a start. Fontas and Puyol would be more than capable of holding out Ceuta and Fontas will certainly progress alongside him. Abidal has had less minutes than Maxwell.
    Thiago has been kicking out the jams this season. Mascherano needs time and Keita just keeps running.
    Pedro and Bojan need goals and Nolito is the closest B team forward to the level of first team.

    1. For the record, I’m going with a 3-0 scoreline with Bojan, Pedro and Nolito all scoring and two assists from Thiago

  8. wow, great preview. this would be our best chance to see the youngsters since the Seville super cup match, my line up prediction is
    adriano, fontas, puyol, maxwell
    masch, JDS, thiago
    jeffren, bojan, nolito

    i’m cheering for the whole team, but ill be cheering thiago and fontas (if they play) more than the others, fontas is a monster, and somebody better come up with a nickname for thiago really soon, because the way things are going he seems to have the best chance to be a first teamer

    1. It will be better if instead of splashing out in the transfer market in Jan for ”the no. 9” (that is if we are planning to), we give Keirrison a run in the first team. If he still fails to add that ‘extra dimension’, just sell him instead of loaning him out season after season and buy a tall CF. When does Keirrison’s loan spell end by the way? Can’t we just terminate his stay-out (it wouldn’t cost a lot for compensation) and bring him in come January? I bet we can, but only if Pep shows some faith in him.

  9. you are forgetting in regards to nayim that he scored one of the greatest goals ever in the final seconds to win the Uefa winners cup back in the day.


    we also share the same name so i might be a bit biased but its a pretty cool one!

    1. I knew Nayim sounded damn familiar, I remember seeing this video before when reading up on the Cup Winners Cup.

    2. I did not forget that particular goal, I just did not mention it in this particular post. My Soccernet post on the subject includes a link to the video.

  10. nolito is 24 i think!too old to rock n roll but too young to die!that song come to my mind about nolito or soriano.too old for barca b too young for spend their football life in a reserve team!

  11. Just saw Keirrison’s goal against Gremio. He could be the CF we’re looking for. I’ve never seen us score a six yard header.

    I predict a 2-0 win with Goals from Bojan and Nolito. I wish all the youngsters get some minutes with sMasch, Maxwell, Adrianom and Jeffren all starting.

  12. Pinto
    Adriano Fontas Abidal Maxwell
    Keita Smash Thiago
    Pedro Bojan Jeffren(forgotten one)

    2nd half
    Bartra, JDS & Nolito IN.
    We need a balanced squad in the 1st halfto finish off the match so that there won’t be much pressure on the kids with this being an away match.

    1. I would rather have P! starting Blitz. P! needs to rediscover his form and play as much as he can while Nolito has been playing non-stop for the B-team. Let P! at least have a half. We can’t put too much pressure on Nolito & Jeffren who I still consider as a B-player 🙂

  13. To the people that wants Puyol in the line-up, don’t forget that Puyol picked up a knock just a week ago.
    Captain Caveman needs a rest!!

    1. Thanks, vicsoc. As I sit in my two-hour meeting, I’ll be thinking of you all, and my DVR that will be sitting at home, quiet, because the match isn’t on U.S. television!!!!

  14. I think someone asked this in another thread, but has anyone heard about what Pinto’s disciplinary hearing decided?

  15. Courtesey of Pep’s blog;
    Eto’o: “Rooney or Messi? Rooney is a champion, but Messi is God. Besides being a great player, he’s a remarkable guy.”

    Do you guys believe that Laporta spied on Ronnie, Etoó, Deco and Pique? Aren’t the aforementioned players allowed to sue Laporta?

    But why oh why does Laporta need to spy on them? If they did commit a crime, then I understand, but for having frequent late night outs? This is a football club, not FBI. I guess we became more than a club during Laporta’s time without my knowledge :p

    1. For the record, I would wager that we aren’t the only club to spy on its players. Not by a long shot. And stories that come out of the NFL would curl your hair. Fact of the matter is we don’t know the full situation. If it occurred during a period where a player was “injured,” i.e. messing with the club, evidence that they were in fact NOT injured would be priceless.

      Not defending, just saying that there might have been circumstances of which we aren’t aware.

    2. Not that I could find, Jnice. Interviuw magazine isn’t exactly The Economist as regards its reputation, it must said, to echo what others have already pointed out.

    3. Can you give me an example on NFL Kev? Not an American so have no clue about NFL scandals other than Vick(dog) & Favre(something about Mary & retirement issues).

    4. The NFL has an internal security force that is in charge of protecting the league’s image, whatever that entails. Even outside what teams do, potential draft selections are scrutinized to a degree that your run-of-the-mill civil libertarian would find horrifying. Financial records, sexual partners, you name it.

      Players are multi-million dollar machines, investments that require the exact same scrutiny as if you were going to invest your life savings in a 401K or mutual fund. As with that situation, you find out everything that you can about that fund.

      The last thing a team needs when signing a player is to find something out that might damage that investment.

    5. Probably not good for public image, but my gut instinct to this didn’t make much of the spying. The shadowing Messi (and maybe other players) gets by the club’s medical staff I’d already taken to be an equivalent sacrifice of privacy to protect an investment.

      Of course, Messi consents to being shadowed.

  16. Yer, I wouldn’t prefer Abidal and Puyol pairing up at CB, rather have Fontas and Puyol, the good ol’ creater/destroyer if you will.

    Abidal should start LB, he needs more minutes to get back into his old groove at LB where he was an absolute monster when in form last season.

    Maxwell would be a better bench option because he can come in and play any position on the right and left . Same with Adriano, but I would prefer Adriano do the first half at RB to test his fitness.

    *will Xavi be present or abscent Isaiah?

    1. yer I know, but Isaiah didn’t mention him as an absentee nor on the squad player, just making sure 🙂

    2. Yah, I was shocked(!) how Isaiah could forget about Xavi… maybe distracted by the magnificent view over Manhattan? 🙂

  17. more 3-4-3 from Pep, I predict:

    Adriano Puyol Fontas
    Masch Maxwell
    Thiago Keita
    Jeffren Bojan Nolito

    Our backline is fine as long as our midfield form a blackhole for them tomorrow.

  18. Also, the shortlist for the New Ultimate Bestest MEGA-Football Player of the Universe Award (otherwise known as the newly unified FIFA WPOTY Ballon d’Or award) is out, with Barcelona having 6 out of the 23 players (most of any club, duh).

    That is: Dani Alves, Messi, Puyol, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta. I am guessing Xavi should be the favorite for the award, if not Sneijder.

    Also, Pep is in the shortlist for Best Manager. I think it’ll either be Mourinho or del Bosque, though.

    1. Mourinho or Del Bosque for Best Manager, that’s an easy one to call.
      Best Player is a lot harder to decide, Sneijder has won the treble, Xavi has won the WC and la Liga, but individually Messi has shone the most with his 47 goals last season…

    2. Yeah, though I give Xavi the advantage for having actually won the WC. Traditionally, the most important player on the World Cup winning team gets it, regardless of what they accomplished with their clubs (Cannavaro in 2006 and Ronaldo in 2002 are good examples).

      Knowing FIFA, the FIFA tournament will hold a lot more weight than the UEFA tournament.

    3. I really really really hope that Xavi gets it. Messi has already won it and he will win it again, Iniesta is young and will have more chances. Xavi has been tremendous this last year for both club and country and was arguably the most important player on the WC-winning team. Xavi FTW!

  19. Why do some of you want Puyol to play? He just picked up a knock last week and he is 30+. He could do with some rest.

    Abidal plays(played if he will ever get selected again) CB for France, so why not get him used to it. During pre-season he played at CB too. Maxwell and Adriano could use some minutes too. They are higher on my priorities than Fontas & Bartra at the moment. We lack depth at CB, so this is a good moment to practice with Abidal, Adriano & Maxwell at the back.

  20. Does anyone know what happens if we end Kierrison’s Loan in January ?

    Will we pay them half what they paid (since it’s half a season) or Will we pay a fine ?

  21. sorry guys but one goal does not mean that keirrison is the striker who we need.pep must give him we find if he is good for us if don.t play a single minute for us?pep was too harsh with that guy.we have not the biggest squad in the world.also caseres or hleb would be useful in this long season.offcourse pep knows better!just say!

    1. At the moment, I would, in Guardiola’s shoes, fancy Keirrison over Krkic. The complexity is that Guardiola didn’t want Keirrison. Txiki B. did. So Guardiola isn’t going to give him a sniff of a shot with the club. It’s a decision I’m not a fan of. If Keirrison were coming out of La Masia, we’d all be sliding off our chairs with the excitement of seeing his debut with the big boys. He has size, speed, control and a good head. He’s also a classic poacher type, and from what I’ve seen, can play with his back to goal.

      He hasn’t gotten a fair shake from us, and I don’t know that he ever will.

  22. hey kevin, why is it that jonathon soriano is not getting called up? He was their top scorer last season and his partnership with Nolito is pretty good. Any reason why Nolito seems to be getting the benefit over him?

    1. I don’t think that Soriano has met the standard, frankly. He’s the right age, so he’s fully grown and all, and should be developed. But from what I have seen of him, he’s good, and certainly up to Segunda standard. But not Primera.

  23. also i have to say that the quality of la liga is not so good.offcourse valencia is a good team but more team are not something special.except T.V revenue they must find a way to earn more money.most teams in summer transfers took only free players.for me serie A is most competive and exciting.

  24. Well, I programmed in a block of time on Deportes, just in case. But we might need a guest reviewer for this one. Any takers?

    1. i did the same, kxevin. & on goltv too, just in case.

      i checked out livesoccertv & it says that espnd will also be rebroadcasting the ceuta game @6pm pac.

  25. I have sad news 🙁

    Paul El Mighty Octo passed away 🙁


    R.I.P. Paul the Octopus

    1. At least he died with a perfect record. It’s sad when psychic octopuses reach the end of their careers. First their predictions are a little off, then they start getting the big games wrong. Eventually they end up in a two-bit dog-and-pony show guessing people’s weight for chum. 🙁

  26. Always remember this: No matter how often a Spaniard tells you there was a Moorish “occupation,” they are full of shit. 700-800 years is not an “occupation,” that’s just who you are.

  27. *

    I laughed. Especially at the Iniesta part.

    1. Me too! Iniesta “below par”? He has been incredible this season! I’ve never seen him so fit and self-confident!

      Also the part about Mascherano “struggling to adapt”. Maybe in his first couple of appearances, but he has been brilliant since then–great passing, ball recovery, defending. If he is not an automatic starter, it’s because we are blessed with a lot of choices in that position and Pep adapts his starting lineup to t5he game at hand.

  28. Xabi Alonso picks Xavi as his choice for the Ballon d’Or:


    A very classy statement from him. I’ve always liked Xabi, even now that he is playing for That Team. It’s a shame, we could use his accurate long-ball passing skills.

  29. i disagree in greece we had 400years turkish occupation.we are not turkish.i am not a nationalist but we must be careful with that.

  30. been out sick for a bit. great article, isaiah. & beautiful stuff on the mou-mou & the prince, soma.

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