I’m traveling today, so your preview is…a little different…
Scene: The sun shines mightily on Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. Several men kick a spherical object back and forth.
Pep Guardiola: Okay, chiquitos, it’s time to do some jogging.
Gabriel Milito: What should I do?
Guardiola: Right, sorry: okay, chiquitos and Gabi, it’s time to do some jogging.
Milito: Oh snaps you’re all going to get injured now!
Guardiola: What did we talk about, Gabi?
Milito: [looks at ground ashamed] Only murder opponents…
Xavi: [rolls up in a wheelchair] I’m ready, mister!
Guardiola: No, you can’t practice, we need you for the rest of the season.
Xavi: But I’m as good as new! Just ask Cugat!
Guardiola: Cugat’s official diagnosis is “mauled by a lion.” I think that precludes you from training.
Xavi: We’re still the best player, even with just one leg and no eyes. [does perfect pirouette with his wheelchair]
Guardiola: Wait, we?
Andres Iniesta: Please let us play, mister.
Carles Puyol: Andrecito cries himself to sleep every night when he can’t play with, uh, his other half.
Guardiola: How do you know that?
Puyol: Uh, I’m captain?
Iniesta: Please let us play, mister.
Guardiola: Fine, but you have to be able to run for a while. Keep going until I blow the whistle.
Everyone: You got it, mister!
[The group begins to run around a field.]
Lionel Messi: I hope he doesn’t make us run for too long. I have to fly to Italy to train with Inter.
Bojan: I want to watch an episode of Hannah Montana.
Gerard Piqué: Are you sure you can handle that kind of drama?
Bojan: It doesn’t scare me anymore!
[A whistle sounds and everyone stops running.]
Messi: Wow! That was a lot shorter than I thought!
Bojan: After all that, we only did half a lap?
Guardiola: [from other side of the field] Why did you stop? Keep running!
Bojan: Wait, what?
[Everyone begins to run again]
Jose Manuel Pinto: [laughs] Sorry guys, that was me.
Bojan: Oh come on! I was so ready to change into my PJs and watch Hannah!
Piqué: Don’t forget your blankey.
Bojan: I wouldn’t forget it!
Abidal: Did you know that this October is the first time in like 500 years that there has been a month with 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays in it?
Bojan: It’s an omen!
Abidal: Only if it begins raining on a sunny day. [He points up and Bojan follows his gaze to the cloudless sky]
[There is a terrific thunderclap]
Bojan: We’re all going to die!
Pinto: [laughs] Sorry guys, that was me.
Bojan: Oh come on!
Guardiola: Less talking, more running!
Bojan: Mister, I doodied my shorts again! Can I go change?
Guardiola: Yes, but I better not catch you watching that Hanna-Barbera stuff again.
[Bojan runs off to the locker room holding the back of his shorts]
Messi: What is everyone going to be for Halloween? I’m going as a Lego man.
Sergi Busquets: I’m going as the Technodrome. Bojan is going to be a Ninja Turtle climbing up my side.
Iniesta: We’re going as the Blue Man Group.
Piqué: But you need 3 for that to really work.
Xavi: We play a 3 man midfield together, so it should be easy.
Busi: Yeah but I’m the third midfielder…
Xavi: You play in midfield? We thought you played defense.
Busi: What do you think our formation is?
Xavi: It’s a 5-3-3.
Busi: Ha, you put in an extra player there.
[Bojan comes running back with new shorts on]
Bojan: Ha! You’re still on the same lap as when I left.
Abidal: We’re running in a circle?
Bojan: I knew that.
Piqué: I’m going as Jason from Friday the 13th. It’s going to be mad dope yo.
Puyol: That might be too scary for some of the, uh, niños.
Bojan: I speak Spanish, you know! I understood that!
Piqué: Nah, it’s all good. Sure, it’s a dark movie with murder and death and—
[A chainsaw roars to life]
Bojan: We’re all going to die!
Pinto: [laughs] Sorry guy, that was me.
Bojan: I have to go to the locker room again…
Puyol: I’ll have to talk to your mother about your diet because this amount of excrement simply cannot be healthy.
[Bojan runs to the locker room, crossing paths with Jeffren]
Puyol: I see you’re fully recovered, Jefferson Airplane.
Jeffren: Yeah, it feels great to finally be healthy again.
Piqué: Speaking of injury…Xavi, how’s your ankle feeling?
Xavi: Pretty good. No pain, just some slight swelling around the wound.
Piqué: Yeah, recovering from an Achilles injury can—wait, wound?
Iniesta: Didn’t you hear our diagnosis from Cugat?
Piqué: Yeah, but, I mean, that was just nonsense.
Xavi: The lions are real.
Piqué: And World Cup trophies can play foosball…
[A lion roars from behind the group]
Piqué: Stop it, Pinto Bean.
Pinto: That wasn’t me.
Piqué: Well then who—
[A lion leaps onto Jeffren and bites into his shoulder. Bojan, just coming out of the locker room, turns around and goes back inside. Milito jumps on the lion’s back and bites into its shoulder. The lion roars in pain and tries to buck Milito, but he will not come loose. They fight to the death.]
Pinto: I gotta learn that roar now.
Jeffren: Oh god my shoulder! Will you stop standing around and get me a doctor?
Xavi: Oh buck up, it’s just a flesh wound. I’m doing fine and I got it way worse.
Jeffren: I just got healthy!
Iniesta: Us too.
Jeffren: Life is so cruel!
Messi: Why did you guys stop running? I just lapped you.
Puyol: And this is why Leo is the best in the world!
Jeffren: Help me, I’m getting weak from the loss of blood.
Milito: [wearing the lion’s pelt] Oh come off it, he didn’t hit any arteries. I, on the other hand, hit all of his arteries.
Piqué: I didn’t know things could contain that much blood.
Milito: Quentin Tarrantino asks me for advice on making things realistic.
Piqué: I did hear that Kill Bill was based on your teenage years.
Milito: It’s a biography. Except for how I’m a girl. That part is “artistic license.”
Jeffren: Say goodbye to my mom for me, would you, Pedrito?
Pedro: [kneeling by Jeffren’s side, weeping] You know I will, brother, you know I will.
Piqué: No, I’ll tell her…while I’m doing her aaaawww snap.
Guardiola: [standing on the other side of the field, muttering] I don’t know how we win games.
Tito Vilanova: [standing next to Guardiola] Illa, illa illa, Villa—
Guardiola and Tito: Maravillarato! [they laugh and high five]
Official Prediction: 3-0, goals by Messi (2) and Villa. Villa was too busy training to appear in this scene, so you know he’ll get a goal.
Time: Saturday 10pm local/Barcelona, 4pm EST/NYC, check your local time here.
TV: Here in the US, the game is on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com
Weather: 61F (16C), partly cloudy, some wind gusts, 0% chance of rain.
As I’ll be out of town, if you’d like to run the liveblog, please let me know as soon as possible and we’ll get everything set up. If you know the Syracuse, NY area and know of a good soccer bar, please let me know. I’ve heard Chuck’s is good, but it’s right on campus during college football season and could overlap Syracuse at Cincinnati on the televisions.