Copa Preview: Barça – Ceuta, Wednesday 4pm EST, GolTV
So you’re a Segunda B team from a provincial outpost going to the big city for a match that, on the surface, is already over. But at least you’re facing arguably the best player on the planet because what jerk would call him up with a 2-0 lead and a home game to defend it in? Lionel Messi is that player and Pep Guardiola is that asshat. Ceuta, of course, are the Segunda B team and their only shot at passing through to the next round is a 2-goal victory (2-0, 3-1, 4-2, etc) at the Camp Nou.
Given that a team consisting of just a couple of regular starters slaughtered them and really should have scored more than 2, Ceuta will not be very happy if Messi does make an appearance. The hope would be, of course, that Guardiola doesn’t have to field his big guns; he’s ensured that he won’t be fielding everyone by not calling up. That’s the hope for everyone, I think, Ceuta especially.
The squad list is Valdés, Pinto, Puyol, Bojan, Messi, Mascherano, Keita, Pedro, Milito, Maxwell, Adriano, Abidal, Nolito, Sergi Roberto, Thiago, Bartra, Jonathan Dos Santos.
Why exclude Pique, who can’t play this coming weekend against Villarreal, but include other players who will be obligated to play in what is going to be a tough match? Alves, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, and Messi were all given Tuesday off, but Puyol and Messi were called up. That suggests they won’t start, of course, so yay for Ceuta, but then, who does start?
Pinto, Adriano, Bartra, Milito, Maxwell, Thiago, Mascherano, Keita, Nolito, Bojan, Pedro.
I’d rather see JDS in the middle, but I doubt he’ll get the start over Thiago. Bartra started in the first leg, partnering Fontas, but the latter wasn’t called up, so I’m putting my money on Milito. Sergi Roberto was unimpressive (in fact, you could go so far as to say downright dreadful) in the first leg of the Supercopa against Sevilla while partnering Milito, so I’m in no hurry to see that pairing again. Granted, Ceuta is no Sevilla, but still, Bartra was great in the first leg, so why not give him another go? [Update: As crayven pointed out in the comments, it was Sergi Gomez not Sergi Roberto who partnered Milito. So consider this previous paragraph to be nonsense that you now have in your brain and will spend a lifetime getting rid of. Yay.]
We last played Ceuta in the Copa in 2000-01 in the Round of 32, which at the time was a single match. We beat them 0-3 at their ground and went on to lose to eventual champions Celta de Vigo in the semifinals. That was our last year with some lanky yahoo named Josep Guardiola in midfield, to give you some perspective. It wasn’t all that long ago, really, though it was a lifetime ago in footballing terms. We started players like Pepe Reina, Michael Reiziger, Frank de Boer, Sergi Barjuan, and Luis Enrique. Rivaldo was our brilliant playmaker, Pep our “4”, Marc Overmars our replacement for Judas Figo. Wild, right?
Anyway, now we’re a different squad and we’ll be fielding players who need time, goals, and a heavy dose of winning some freakin’ Copa matches.
Official Prediction: 2-0. Same score as last time, once again in our favor. Goals by Bojan and Pedro. Bojan will score a goal.
Time: 10pm Barcelona/local, 4pm EST/NYC, check your local time here.
TV: In the US, the match is on GolTV
Weather: 55F (13C), 30% chance of rain.
Memories worth looking at and smiling about: