To the Land of Low Scores: Almeria – Barça

Liga Preview: Almeria – Barcelona, Saturday 2pm EST, ESPNDeportes/ESPN3.com

You ever had one of those situations where you wake up and you realize you basically missed a day during the week? I did that this morning where I realized that yeah, yesterday was Thursday and no, I didn’t write the post I’d been planning and hey, isn’t it time for a preview so I have to skip that post entirely? That’s what I get for going to an alumni event in the evening, I guess.

On a day when Valencia hosts Villarreal and Real Madrid welcome Athletic Bilbao, beloved Barcelona go to a place where goals are simply not scored in abundance. Only twice this season in 11 league matches has Almeria been involved in a match in which one of the sides scored more than one goal and never once has a team scored 3. They drew 2-2 with Real Sociedad and beat Depor 0-2 at the Riazor for their only win of the season, but other than that they’ve got 4 1-1 draws, a 0-0 draw, and 4 1-0 (or 0-1) losses.

Almeria is really awful. I mean, really awful. They’ve scored a grand total of 8 goals, which is 2 fewer than Messi alone. Sure, they’ve only conceded 10 as well, but they haven’t played anyone currently in the top 5 in the league standings. Still, they drew 1-1 at Atleti so they can’t be taken for granted. That’s the thing, no matter how awful a team is, if you relax, they’ll beat you. Almeria did beat Real Sociedad 3-2 and 2-1 (5-3 aggregate) in the Copa del Rey and now face Mallorca in Barcelona’s half of the draw. So, while they’re awful (lowest goals for total in the league, tied with Depor), their defense is capable of managing matches most of the time.

I’ve spoken of Juan Manuel Lillo before, so there’s no need to delve into his rather random connection with Guardiola (as interesting as it is). He’s been in charge of Almeria since December 2009 when Hugo Sanchez got the boot. Lillo led them to 13th, with a record of 7-8-8 (they already had 13 points when he took over). My fear for Almeria during my season preview was that they weren’t bringing in enough offensive firepower and while I definitely predicted them to finish in 10th, I was at least right in that regard. It’s Uche who leads them with 3 goals, followed by Ullua and Piatti with 2 apiece, and Corona with 1 to round it all out.

Our squad list is: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Adriano, Andreu Fontàs, Sergi Gómez, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Busquets, Mascherano, Thiago, Messi, Villa, Bojan, Pedro.

We’re 5-0-0 (13GF, 3GA) away from home, meaning Almeria is probably in for a rough ride. It may be a tight, closed affair, but it won’t be one that Almeria will walk away from with anything but “we tried hard” points. The real points, the ones they put on the table, will all go to Barcelona. Even without Abidal, Milito, and Jeffren (who are all injured) and a recovering group of FIFA players who traveled a fair distance, Barça is simply too good for Almeria right now.

I don’t want to see Pique out there for the simple reason that he’s got 4 yellow cards and a potentially busted hamstring. No reason to lose him when our back line is already wobbly-bobbly thanks to injuries, except that it would require starting Fontas or Sergi Gomez and that’s not necessarily the best idea despite Fontas having had a great couple of Copa games.

Predicted lineup (who I think we’ll see rather than who I want): Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Busi, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi.

Official Prediction: 2-0. Goals by Messi and Pedro (sub). We might leave it late, but we won’t leave anything behind.

Would you like to run the liveblog? Sure you would. Let us know in the comments or via email. First come, first serve, of course.

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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.

94 Comments

      • Jnice
        November 19, 2010

        Yeah. Forgot to give you props on that, cliveee. Good job.

          • Eklavya
            November 19, 2010

            Why do you always put a “^” before saying “this” ?

          • Kari
            November 19, 2010

            It’s common practise. ^ is like an arrow pointing upwards, to the above comment. If I just said “this”, it’ll most likely a) come off as random, or b) cause confusion. Thus, the “^”.

  1. Josep
    November 19, 2010

    Good point about no matter who you’re facing or how bad they are you can not underestimate them.
    The big question is Pique, playing? Its very, very risky, especially last match when he was booked for his first foul (if you want to call it that) and a second time. Barca this year have been getting booked A LOT, and if Pep recognizes this he sits Pique.

    Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Adriano, Andreu Fontàs, Sergi Gómez, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Busquets, Mascherano, Thiago, Messi, Villa, Bojan, Pedro.

    As I said in the last post I’d love to see
    -Valdes-
    -Puyol – sMasch –
    Alves (RWB/RM) – Biscuits (DM) – Maxwell (LWB/LM)
    – Xavi – Keita (if in trouble drops back, while Biscuits drops back as well)
    Messi – Villa – Iniesta

    If we can get up 2-0 or maybe 3-0, take someone out and lets see some Fontas out there! This is one game where the sub of Thiago in I’m not as excited about as of a young CB. Its a big moment for them. If we can get the lead putting someone in would do wonders for their confidence, and they can tell all their friends in the B team all about it.

    • November 19, 2010

      You are simply not going to see Mascherano start at CB. It’s not going to happen.

      • Kari
        November 19, 2010

        Well, now it’s definitely going to happen.

    • Eduard
      November 19, 2010

      Why not start Fontas? Almeria has the lowest scoring offense. If he’s playing a first division team, might as well be playing Almeria. It’s too easy to book Pique, plus his injury. I wouldn’t be surprise to see a 3(Maxwell,Puyol,Alves)-2(Busi, Masche)-2(XavIniesta)-3(Pedro, Villa, Messi) maybe seeing Adriano for Maxwell and Maxwell replacing Pedro.

  2. Vj
    November 19, 2010

    Picking up where Isaiah left off, I don’t see anyone other than Pique at CB, I can bet my house on that..

    Which gets me worried – Pique will have to be a saint during the match to avoid that yellow..

  3. Jim
    November 19, 2010

    After our last discussion it might be nice to evaluate Adriano tomorrow night? It would send a good message to Dani as well.

  4. Jnice
    November 19, 2010

    For some reason, I think this will be a difficult match just like last season. Although we scored an own goal last year, I believe.

  5. Kari
    November 19, 2010

    Almeria away isn’t getting the proper worrying it deserves; the draw there last season let EE top for a few weeks (although I, like Alves, never acknowledged them as leaders of course.)

    I like how we’re getting a lot of the difficult (smaller) away matches out of the way early this season– Athletic Bilbao, Pathetico, Zaragoza, Almeria, soon-to-be Espanyol (shame we didn’t get Mallorca away as well.) I do wonder when we’ll play EE away in the first half as well. We always seem to be playing the first leg at home.

    (^ That being said, we’ll have Valencia, Villareal, Sevilla and EE all away though. With one game in between each of those teams, and the Valencia game being right after Mallorca away…. Alright, who says La Liga is too easy for us?! I’m looking at you, Sid Lowe)

    • Jnice
      November 19, 2010

      Yeah, this one will be tough, IMO.

  6. Diego S.
    November 19, 2010

    I didn’t watch the match last year.

  7. Diego S.
    November 19, 2010

    In the year of the treble, Bojan scored a double against Almeria away. 😀

  8. Whatever
    November 19, 2010

    Does anyone know what the hell happened to JDS? He was on the edge of joining the first team and getting some minutes this season, and now he’s not even in the starting 11 of the B team.

    • November 19, 2010

      He started last week for the B team. Did he play for Mexico this week? I’m not sure. If so, perhaps he’s just being rested. What happened to him is that Xavi is playing in his spot and Thiago has jumped ahead of him in the “to be promoted” line.

    • Auld Super
      November 19, 2010

      Yes interesting one that, he must have pissed someone off.

    • Soy Culé
      November 19, 2010

      He’s on the bench in the Barça B game right now. Not sure why he isn’t playing, but then again, none of us are Luis Enrique eh 😉

      • November 19, 2010

        Luis Enrique rotates a lot. Thats one of his greatest features as a “reserve” team coach. Thats how it should be done.

    • Jnice
      November 19, 2010

      He didn’t play well last week, so Luis Enrique put another in his place.

  9. Auld Super
    November 19, 2010

    What do yall think of the Clasico being on a Monday night ? Normally I’d be against it but as I will be traveling back from Sweden Sunday night I’ll accept it this time, but only this once.

    • Kari
      November 19, 2010

      It’s at 3pm here on my side of the planet, so IT TOTALLY SUCKS BECAUSE I’LL HAVE CLASS THAT DAY, which I’ll probably skip if I can (shhh!)

      • SoccerMom
        November 19, 2010

        I’ll probably cancel class that day (shhhh!)

        • stowe
          November 20, 2010

          I wish i could cancel class to watch it. I would have to get up at 3am. might happen, but not sure if 3am and crappy streaming is quite worth it. and when i say crappy streaming. I mean that my internet is about as fast as dial up.

          • outerspacedout
            November 22, 2010

            It’ll be around 1am where I’ll be in the Maldives. Though if I had class/work I would most definitely skip/cancel it for the Clasico unless it was my A’ level exam or something.

            Are most of the regulars in this blog from the North American continent by the way? SoccerMom, Kari, Isaiah, Kxev, you guys all live in the US or somewhere in North America right?

      • cliveee
        November 19, 2010

        SoMa should force the class to watch it in a Spanish Pub as a cultural study. But you have to give extra credits to those who support Barca!

    • blitzen
      November 19, 2010

      I will be on an airplane at the time and I’m REALLY pissed off about it, since I specifically planned my vacation to be home that weekend so I could watch the game! Now I will have to convince my brother to let me download it onto his computer and lose a night’s sleep. Stupid elections.

  10. Kari
    November 19, 2010

    Re: Alves discussion: I like this poll thing. It should be added to all “for/against” argument from now on. Obviously people are going to want to keep him, so maybe the question of the poll should be more on the lines of:

    “If Alves was playing hard ball during negotiations and was thinking of leaving, would you a) break down into tears and beg him to stay b) stomp your feet, but pay the man, or c) cut your losses and sell his ass to the highest bidder.”

    I’d pick b or c, depending on what he says to the media.

  11. Kari
    November 19, 2010

    Ha! Players do it too, eh?

    Facebook Pique (15:37): “I’m preparing my Supermanager team for this weekend…Navarro seems injured so don’t know if I’d pick him…” [barcastuff]

  12. Soy Culé
    November 19, 2010

    Hey guys, you all know that the Barça B is playing right now?

    Score is 0-0, in the 9th minute. They’re at home against Recreativo.

    Here’s a GREAT feed:
    /http://www.webcaston.com/embed.php?fileid=badtvnet20&vw=950&vh=600&domain=myp2p.eu

    • Soy Culé
      November 19, 2010

      Also, sorry for not commenting much, just been a bit busy. I will be around more though 🙂

    • Auld Super
      November 19, 2010

      It doesn’t seem to be working for Auld Super.

  13. Kari
    November 19, 2010

    Okay, so Bartra reminds me a bit of Pique. I like, I like. Muniesa: a CB playin LB? Like Puyol was a RB, I guess. Funny how we have such an abundance of good youth defenders. It’s almost like we don’t know what to do with ’em all.

    • Diego S.
      November 19, 2010

      Muniesa plays LB because there are such good players in the CB area (Bartra, Fontas). Bartra also plays CB because the good players we have at RB (Dalmau, Montoya).

      • Jnice
        November 19, 2010

        Well, in the case of Bartra, his most natural position is CB.

        Muniesa’s most natural is CB as well, but he plays well at LB.

      • Jnice
        November 19, 2010

        Dalmau still plays with Juvenil A.

    • blitzen
      November 19, 2010

      Bartra takes way too long to decide what to do with the ball when it’s at his feet. That’s OK in Segunda games, but if he wants to be promoted he needs to learn how to make faster decisions.

  14. Jnice
    November 19, 2010

    Some good stuff being played by Barça B right now, just lacking that 2nd goal.

  15. soccermomof4
    November 19, 2010

    Don’t want to see Pique play, can’t risk a 5th yellow with the clasico coming up.
    Can Busi play at CB (he pretty much drops back there most games anyway nowadays) with sMasch playing DM? Just how good is Fontas?

    Ticked about the Monday Classico, but hubby and I found a bottle of wine at the liquor store from Catalunya to drink while watching. How fast we drink it will depend on the tension level during the game,

  16. Eklavya
    November 19, 2010

    Why don’t you run LiveBlogs anymore Isaiah? 🙁
    Don’t give me that stupid argument.

  17. Jnice
    November 19, 2010

    Wow, what a goal for Recre. This is what happens when you don’t finish the game off.

    But dude was an idiot and got a 2nd yellow for taking his shirt off. 10 v 10 now.

  18. Soy Culé
    November 19, 2010

    It seems the B team has the same problem as the A team: not clinical enough.

    • cliveee
      November 19, 2010

      He made a beautiful move and missed the target in front of goalie… at 91′

  19. Soy Culé
    November 19, 2010

    Nice sombrero, but it seems Kari was right. Bartra is like Piqué: he can’t finish chances off right in front of goal! 🙂

    • Soy Culé
      November 19, 2010

      Oh well. It was a good game. I really enjoy watching the young’ins play. If I lived anywhere near Barcelona, I’d go to see them play all the time.

      Later everyone.

  20. Jnice
    November 19, 2010

    Recre didn’t deserve the draw, but that’s what happens when you don’t take your chances. Better luck next time, Barça B.

  21. Nick
    November 19, 2010

    The reason why El Clasic has been postponed:

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDGXMsmjYcE

      • Kari
        November 19, 2010

        What was it exactly? <— attempting to prevent an unwelcome image

        • Vj
          November 19, 2010

          A “When Harry Met Sally” styled ad gone horribly wrong..

    • Nick
      November 19, 2010

      The leader of the Green coalition in Catalonia, Joan Herrera, said it would be “very difficult to reach orgasm voting for any of the candidates, myself included”.

      Imagine that?!

      • cliveee
        November 19, 2010

        holy moly… what a campaign…
        very creative in fact…

  22. Diego S.
    November 19, 2010

    What’s your Official Prediction ?

      • ooga aga
        November 19, 2010

        5-0, messi and villa with braces and the other goal by either busi or keita

  23. Helge
    November 19, 2010

    Why should Pep risk Piqué in this match? Who should stop Crynaldo if not him during the Clasico?

    • Kxevin
      November 20, 2010

      Last year it was Captain Caveman doing a lot of the damage. We’ll see this year. IIRC, Abidal was gimpy. He should be fine this go-round.

  24. Jnice
    November 19, 2010

    Also, don’t forget folks, this match is after an international break. Short one, but an international break nonetheless. We know how that usually goes.

    • Kxevin
      November 20, 2010

      And most of our guys played serious minutes. Hmmmm….I say 1-0 good guys.

  25. Dave
    November 19, 2010

    Just after watching Revista.Good show,but still do not like Mr self publicist Balague.La Masia is the prototype according to Mark Bolton and co. Added to this a report from La Confidencial states that EE are trying to copy Barca Athletic of bringing in players up to 25 to help the youth teamers- Monkey see, Monkey do.

  26. Kari
    November 19, 2010

    Robbie Mustoe gets owned: “There hasn’t been much quality or cutting edge in the final third…”

    /http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxQL91L86Uk&feature=topvideos

  27. November 20, 2010

    I’d say 1-0. Messi.

    Pique could play. Judging by the offensive record of Almeria this season, he won’t have a whole lot to do tomorrow. The risk is there of course, but professional players should know how to avoid yellow cards. The more dangerous risks may come from dives and bad refereeing.

    I am more concerned about Abidal’s injury than anyone before El Clasic. We will be a lot more shaky if we don’t have him on the pitch.

    Lineup prediction:
    VV
    AV PY PQ MX
    XV BQ IN
    MS VI PD

    • barca96
      November 20, 2010

      I wouldn’t be too sure on that Clive.
      Pique received ridiculous yellow cards this season.

  28. Spiro
    November 20, 2010

    the risk is just too great, if we lose Pique to a silly yellow, we only have one senior CB left for the classico, then we would have to end up playing a b teamer or Mascherano as cb in the classico. wouldn’t we rather have them play in a game against Almeria?

  29. Vj
    November 20, 2010

    Any win w/o suspensions/injuries makes my day..

  30. Lev
    November 20, 2010

    @soccermomo
    yeah I’ve been saying that Busi would be an viable alternative at CB for a while now, don’t know why other people don’t think of this

    • soccermomof4
      November 20, 2010

      He’s playing so far back anyway, lately.

      My only fear is a “bad Busi” moment without both Pique and Puyol covering behind him.

  31. Helge
    November 20, 2010

    lol, what a SUPER-idiotic move by Cesc (and somehow also by Chamakh).
    Do they always throw away golden opportunities to climb to the top of the table? Shameful…

  32. Vj
    November 20, 2010

    Super comeback by Tottenham.. lead by 3 goals to 2 after being 2-0 down..

    • Helge
      November 20, 2010

      Yap, but Arsenal gifted them the comeback by pure stupidity…

      • Vj
        November 20, 2010

        Not pure stupidity, just plain old Arsenal..

        • Para
          November 20, 2010

          I remember reading somewhere that with Manchester United you’re almost guaranteed a late goal if they’re down…while with Arsenal you’re almost guaranteed a late goal against them if they’re up

  33. Auld Super
    November 20, 2010

    It reminds me of a game of squash I played last wednesday, 2-0 up and still managed to lose 3-2, total disaster. When the other team get 1 the momentum is with them and you need to dig in, I failed and so did arse0.

    Thats what they get for keeping out Cesc hostage against his will I suppose and to me they’ll always be poor mans Barca.

  34. Kari
    November 20, 2010

    Arsenal showing their serial pretenders: Check

    Game-time Avatar: Check

    Snacks and other junk food ready for the game: Work in progress

    Volunteer to run the liveblog as a justincaseofdisaster option : ….

    I can run the liveblog, if no else shows up. (Looking at Kxevin, Patrick, vicsoc, corrine?)

    • vicsoc8
      November 20, 2010

      I’ll do it.

      As long as you promise to come and entertain me of course.

  35. Diego S.
    November 20, 2010

    What’s in common between

    VDV , Robben , and Snejider ?

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