Crossed Wires: Barça-Villarreal

Liga Preview: Barça – Villarreal, Saturday 4pm EST, ESPN Deportes &

He’s 6’2″, 183lbs and he’s going to be dynamite. A signing that makes up for a ton of other losses and depth issues. Cost, of course, doesn’t really exist in these circumstances. You can watch him in action tonight–yes, on a Friday!–against, drum rolle please, Longwood. And yeah, I’m talking about Josh Selby and the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team. Because what else could possibly matter on the day of the first game of the season? Were you wondering why I thought Ibrahim Afellay was so tall and built? Pssh. You and your misplaced priorities.

It begins again, then, this juggling act of mine between the two loves of my sporting life. It’s November, so the basketball games aren’t particularly important, but I’m still going to watch all the ones I can get my hands on, even if it’s just Longwood University from Farmville, Virginia. At least this week the games aren’t on the same days, which they won’t be for at least 3 more weeks. Good news for me! All that hard work by Baby Jay (most adorablest of mascots in the whole universe!) above shall not be in vain!

So apparently this is rolling into the port of Barcelona this weekend and it’s kind of a big deal:

[insert obligatory Beatles song reference here]

Because I don’t know anything about the Beatles, really, all I can do is talk about Villarreal and how good they are: they’re really good. The submarino amarillo nickname comes from the canary yellow jerseys they sport, and they’ve even got a mascot that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before: Groguet. A more artistic version can be found here. Whatever, Baby Jay totall pwns Groguet.

And last time we met them, we totally pwnd them too. Especially Bojan. My favorite part of that video is how simple it all looks for Bojan and how the commentator remarks, casually, “Que bueno es Bojan.” How good he was, indeed. How slick, how brilliant, how confident. And I can’t wait to see that Bojan again. But of course, that he plays so well in the Madrigal is basically meaningless since this one takes place at the Camp Nou. We’ve drawn them 1-1 and 3-3 the last 2 times we’ve met them and the time before that they beat us, 1-2. Bojan scored that year at the Madrigal, of course. That goal, in the 24th minute, was Bojan’s first ever goal for the first team.

Giuseppe Rossi. Nilmar. Santi Cazorla. Borja Valero. Names that will no doubt be on everyone’s lips tomorrow as they scream profanities before and most likely after them. Rossi has 7 goals, Nilmar 6, Cazorla 3, and Valero 2. They also have Spain’s starting left back, Joan Capdevila, so they’re not slouches at the back. Losing Diego Godin would seem terrible, but they’ve only conceded 1 more goal than Barça.

It’s going to be a mega match between some massive punchers (2nd and 3rd in the league) and I expect more of an open game than a tight, closed one. Villarreal won’t want to run and gun like we do (like a certain Roy Williams team of old…sigh), but they won’t be sitting 10 behind the ball either. The question is our defense. The difference between me and a lot of others is that I take what Guardiola has done in the past and then accept that he’ll do that again. That’s sometimes really stupid, but as always I’ll argue that I’m right.

Some are saying Mascherano will start in defense. Wrong. It’ll be Abidal at CB with Pique suspended and Milito injured. No Bartra or Fontas either. I can’t find an official squad list, but here’s my starting lineup:

Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Abidal, Maxwell, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Villa, Messi, Pedro.

Good bang for your buck there, sesame. Mascherano could be a CB, but I don’t see why we’d ever experiment like that when we’ve gotten good results from Abidal this year in that same position. Granted, Guardiola is batshit crazy with his lineups, so we might just see that.

Official Prediction: 94-60. Leading scorer: Markieff Morris with 26. Oh, Barça? 2-1. Tight game, goals by Messi and Villa. I’m so excited for this game, actually, that I think I’m going to have to stop writing now and go run around the block 60 times.

Time: 10pm local, 4pm EST.
TV: In the US, it’ll be on ESPN Deportes and


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. OK – this is better place for this question. Does anybody know why GolTV has shown EE games instead of Barca for the last few weeks in a row? I thought they were supposed to alternate. Is there some contract dispute or something?

    1. I think it’s more like the deal with ESPN. Deportes got a lot of our matches last season. I think that somebody thinks EE is a bigger draw on the telly.

    2. I don’t mind it, I like the Deportes commentators better and love the way Fernando Palomo says “gol!”

      Like here: *

    3. I don’t have GolTV but I noticed that as well. I guess if both of the “main” commentators are EE fans… Meh. The only thing good about GolTV is RayRay. ESPN has better coverage anyway. If I lived in the US, I’d probably get them instead.

  2. By the way, side note, but this game shows why the idea of selling Milito is nuts. Right now, he’s our 3rd best CB. Against a slick passing team that is scoring goals for fun, and without Pique, we’re going to be putting Abidal in a position that, shall we say, he hasn’t shown his best. This is going to be a difficult game for sure.

  3. Like the majority of our games whether we win or lose will not depend on our defenders. If the team plays the way we all know they can, and I think they will, then Villareal, like most teams, will have very little chance of taking anything away from this game. So far this season we have come up trumps in the big games and I expect more of the same. We might see a bit of complacency or arrogance when we play lesser teams, but when we have to play a top team the boys always come to play. I expect a very aggressive start to this game and I just pray we take our chances. Everybody is worrying about Abidal or Mascherano at centreback, but what concerns me a lot more is the apparent lack of sharpness in front of goal. If anything is going to cost us it’s that.

    Prediction 3-0. Thats right, we keep a clean sheet 🙂

    1. I hope this transfer goes through.

      We could use him when Xavi or Iniesta is injured. He could provide the spark we sometimes lack like against Inter last year.

  4. Isiah you forgot to mention that they also have Carlos marchena, who is actually a very good CD and was a regular starter for the national team until pique took over. However i think we are in a good run of form right now and we will totally sink the submarine.
    as for the central defender issue, i wont bother predicting anyone there, because just as you said pep is crazy. he might just decide to even play with one central defender and two holding midfielders in a 3-4-3 formation (very unlikely), but i really just don’t know.
    My prediction for this is 3:1 for us, provided we score first.

  5. Isaiah, are you plannin to watch the match outside in a pub etc? Am in NYC tomorrow, so could join you if possible. Let me know.

  6. @barcastuff:

    Barcelona will register the contract of Afellay, who will cost around 3M, as soon as the transfer market opens at 1 January [el periodico]

    Afellay will undergo the medical tests in Barcelona in the 2nd half of December, after the winter break in Holland has started [periodico]

  7. Sport says that we’ve offered Alves the same dough at Pique and Puyol, and a performance-based renewable deal through 2015.

  8. Now all we have to do is give Keirrison a look in January. He’s really filled out, and looks like the big striker dude type.

  9. damn i wish sMasch would just grow a full on beard. there aren’t enough players with good beards. Only derossi/vucinic comes to mind immediately.

    it would make the guy that much more intimidating.

  10. Notice how we always play better against stronger teams?
    When we play against bigger teams, they don’t resort to complacency.
    I predict there will be a lot of goals tonight.

  11. Wow!So it.s true!For 3m we buy a very good player who was the best player of the best team of holland and a member of their N.T!Amazing!And only 24years old!Tonight we will win 2-0!

    ABIDAL will meet our requirements in this match!

    By the way, I just read the awesome post of Ramzi regarding Chygrynskiy and Ibrahimovic. Truly great arguments.

    1. Where did you read it? 🙂

      If Messi scores today, he sets up a new personal record which is scoring 7 times in a row for Barcelona. Incredible that he hasn’t reached that number up until now!

  13. Isaiahawk: I shared BabyJay with my old BU roommate who is forever a KU fan and she replies that Allen has been scientifically determined to be the LOUDEST arena in college sports. Congratulations!

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