CL Preview: FC Barcelona at Panathinaikos F.C.

Through 4 games in the 2010-11 Champions League campaign Barcelona has been moving along in a rather up-and-down fashion, roughly the equivalent of a season of “Mad Men”: never terrible, occasionally missing its stride, but brilliant the rest of the time. Simply, unequivocally, brilliant. In our first foray into continental competitions this year, the boys brutally decimated Panathinaikos 5-1. Then a trot of 1-1 at Kazan, 2-0 to Copenhagen, and 1-1 to Copenhagen leaving us top of the group with 8 points and holding tiebreakers over second-place Copenhagen, who sit on 7 points. A win here and we are one step closer to qualifying in 1st for the Round of 16. So without further adieu, let’s Preview.

By way of full disclosure, I am doing your preview today as Isaiah has been on one hell of a bender lately and was at one point declared legally dead this weekend after 4 zombie jager bombs, a drink we recently invented that involves jager, Red Bull, and tequila. It attained the name “zombie” because it actually kills the drinker for a short time before resurrection. Nice week for you to go down Isaiah, nice. Seriously though, these will not be as long as normal because my finals have sucked the life out of me, so I hope you can fend for yourselves for the time being.

Anyway, this Panathinaikos game is a pickle to predict because of the team’s historical impotency in CL road games under Pep and the Greecian’s historical steeliness at home. Yet, the boys are hitting on all cylinders right now and Messi has decided that playing god was not enough so he had to become the creator of all things and destroy all in his path (including the Brazilians). The team also seems to be bucking some trends recently. As has been noted, BarΓ§a rarely scores much at Almeria, then again, we decided that 8 goals were just enough to salt the earth on the way back home. Combine this with Pana’s complete lack of offensive prowess in the CL (they have scored exactly 1 goal this year in Europe, on a keeper punt and poor defense to open up against us in September), and we have ourselves sort of a conundrum.

This is just his normal look.
Until we look deeper. Look, I am wrong about a great many things, but our boys are playing their best right now. After grinding out one against Valencia 2-1, we’ve rolled off scores of 2-0, 5-0, 3-1, 3-1, and 8-0 in all competitions. That’s over a month of solid play with our offense finally getting the goals it needs and capitalizing on chances. Villa has found his touch and has 6 goals, Messi we have already discussed, even Bojan has gotten in on it of late, and Pedro has come on as well. This combined with the apparent regeneration of Xavi’s achilles and Alves doing everything on the field at once means the boys are more formidable across the board and are getting solid contributions from as many spots as possible, and others are continuing to learn and grow before our eyes (I’m looking at your Biscuits and Pique). In short: we need to put this one away early, hold the lead, and continue the stellar play before that other game on Monday.

Of course the team is not carrying its full compliment of players. Pep is bringing 20 guys to Greece including Valdes, Mino, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Abidal, Adriano, Fontas, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Mascherano, Biscuits, Keita, Villa, Bojan, Messi, Jeffren, and Pedro. Good to see Fontas and Thiago getting more burn with the big boys. Missing from this list are Milito, injured, and Pinto, whistling. Not crushing blows, but hopefully we wouldn’t need them anyway. Tactically we should be looking at doing the exact same things we always do, though Pep may decide to rest a couple of guys looking ahead, even though it is not his normal style. I’d like to see Fontas and Thiago start, but I doubt that happens either.

We will see if any huge changes are made to the starters. As much as Pep and everyone in the club really wants to say that no one is looking ahead, that’s a load of crap. Real Madrid is looking like the biggest game of the year by far now that both teams are in stride and an injury to any player, even a role player, would be harmful to the efforts. This has to come into effect when Pep is determining starters. Then again, this is Pep, so we may have Valdes playing DM, Puyol in goal, and Messi at right back, weaving his way up the pitch. I am going to predict a strong lineup to go out and stomp this one out early and then early subs for Xavi, Iniesta, and Villa. We will know how Copenhagen fared by game time since they play early in Russia. With a loss or a draw there and a win for us we will clinch 1st in the group.

Predicted Lineup: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Maxwell, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Villa, Messi, Bojan

Final Score: 4-0, goals by Villa (2), Messi, and Busquets (why not right?)

Game time: 2:45 EST. Right now, the only TV I see showing up in America is a replay at 5:00 EST on FSC, but I may be missing something on one of Direct TV’s 3,000 channels.

Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images Europe

By Luke

We calls 'em likes we sees 'em.


  1. And hopefully the Mad Professor aka. Itturalde Gonzales doesn’t fall for EE’s dives. Thong Boy is back to throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get the (rare) calls for his exaggerations.

    It may be my blaugrana-tinted glasses, but EE aren’t that good. Yeah, they’re scoring goals by the boat load, but something is missing. A soul, maybe?

    Seriously though, it can’t be that all teams that face them are that crap…can it?

  2. Ever since his AC Milan dive he will forever be known as Greg Louganis. It is the perfect fit, he dives, and is clearly a homosexual man….not that there is anything wrong with that AT ALL!!!!!! (Being gay I mean, there is something really messed up with his form of diving)

    1. I hate to feed into your ideas. As I hate being sexist or anything of the like, but I have to upload and post this.


    2. OMG, thank you for feeding into my idea!!!! (Again, the gay part was secondary, Louganis was just the only famous diver I had ever heard of so I started calling him that, then I wiki’d him and it says he is openly gay, just to easy to pass up.

    3. Just don’t see why you need to add the gay part. Adding disclaimers doesn’t make it any less offensive.


  3. From barcastuff
    Sneijder (Inter Milan): “I’ve told Inter that Afellay would be perfect for us. Unfortunately, Inter decided not to listen to me.”

    awww too late cue-ball

  4. Since El Clasico is soon going to be upon us, I’ll just take some time to say:

    Let’s keep it clean, people. The jabbing and excess of Morbo aside, we should keep personal insults and degrading out of it. Madridistas will come by; some with something to say, other talking out of their asses. Talk to the ones that matter. Ignore the others.

    I don’t want another Arsenal experience, for those that were unfortunate enough to witness it.

    1. I had a fair bit of disagreement with some Arsenal fans at a different site after the Messi show at the Camp Nou. It was fun for me but apparently not for them as they started to threaten me with bodily harm πŸ˜€

    2. Relax Kari no one is here to start a war , i just find your constant whining about Madrid funny , if anyone is talking out of their asses it is your fellow cules who are implying that Real Madrid did not dominate Ajax today.
      Now i fully understand the intensity of the rivalry between the two teams but lets call a spade a spade from time to time shall we ? Madrid have won the games they have won because they were better than their opponents period , denying that makes you just delusional

    3. yea Madrid werent better than sporting … kicking and diving. anyways you are right Madrid didnt deserve to win any of their games they are just lucky and get help from the refs

      im out of here have a good day

    4. Madrid WEREN’T better. The match was very even and thats just one example.

      Or are you a box score Madridista? Look at the stats and determine your team dominated. I watched most of the match and Sporting may have drawn, or even won on a different day.

      I never mentioned them being lucky but they do get some ref help.

      You can’t just associate 1-2 posters or Barca fans with EVERY one on a specific blog. It doesn’t work that way.

      Just because you use the word delusional doesn’t mean I think every Madrid fan is delusional πŸ™‚

  5. rant: they go to amsterdam, start a team with only 2 youth players Arbeloa and Casillas (1 of the 10 players that play with their feet, arbeloa… 0 if you count players that play with their feet and are from madrid the region not the city) against THE youth player team aka Ajax. They go also with all their new EE players and their millions don’t even try to play nice and win 0-4 (by now) … I said before I really wanted ΓΆzil but don’t care anymore I start to be glad he’s in EE. They win they spread fear ok (not to me I have xaviniesta puyipique all world champions) πŸ˜‰ but the image they give is horrible horrible, many people all over the world not only cules dislike them.

    Football is a beautiful sport, not just the emotion and the supporters every sport has that, but the sport itself really IS beautiful IMO. I’m not catalan and I think the beauty subject is the reason for me supporting FCB. I have always played football and to me playing in a certain/distinctive way and doing it with home players will always be more respected anywhere than what these other dudes do. Besides it looks like we have been doing well. We have won the sextete like that. I gotta say I care about the outcome of el clasico but I feel like Mourinho is THE last shot for EE to try and stop us. It’s all about mourinho now and he had not put a step in valdebebas before this summer. What would they do next? They should be afraid of the outcome of el clasico and this season. Maybe mou will stay one more year if things go “not-ok” but what after mourinho? … Visca el barΓ§a, it feels so nice to have a football identity when you see the kind of display I saw today in Amsterdam. Not talking about respect and good manners that don’t hurt either but enlightening the sport which is what I think we do, play by play, player by player. It’s cool to have such a nasty rival but this is no tale it’s reality they may win!!!

    1. I hate to say it but as you can question their life after Mourinho inevitably moves on, they can say the exact same about Pep.

    2. not many years before pep we played 4-3-3 possesion football, won a CL and were applauded in bernabeu amongst other things. and luis enrique is the man!! πŸ˜€

    3. thiago jds (cesc) ESPINOSA rochina muniesa fontas bartra sergi roberto … any many more … madridista just asking, do you know the players from your “B” team?

    1. LMAO you are telling the ‘truth’ alright , anyways you wont need to ignore me im out , keep the delusional comments going πŸ™‚

  6. Dare I say, some of the whining in here is almost as bad as your average Barca-related post at the EE Offside site.

    That is to say, unbearably childish.

    1. Actually I kind of agree, EE just beat a decent side away in the CL by a few goals, dare I say we could not do the same in Copenhagen????? Shudder 3…2…1….F**K it, we are gonna blow the roof off them in a few days!!!!!!!

  7. Sigh. Getting back to what matters here:

    – Abidal’s been given the green light. Still don’t think he’ll play.

    -Pep says that the team will be cautious because we don’t know how Pana will play due to their nouveau coach.

    -Busi admits the obvious and says the team was worn out because of WC, but that’s all in the past.

    -Possible Lineup according to rac1: Valdes – Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell – Xavi busquets Keita – Iniesta Messi Villa

    source: barcastuff

  8. Saying it the way it is, you guys sound like someone having a panic attack or something. RM played, won, good for them. In fact I think it is for the best of the Liga that they win by a margin so people start realize it is a two horses race because the big two are strong, not because the rest of the Liga teams are weak.

    We will deal with Real Madrid when we meet them, and let the best in that given day win.

    The rest are details. Including diving, ref, or Ronaldo penalty goals. I cant care less.

    1. Pre-game nerves I think.

      I agree with your comment re: two horse race as well. But yeah, may the best team of the day win on Tuesday.

  9. What do you guys think of Van der Wiel?
    I saw a part of 2nd half before I went off to work.
    His positioning was really off and he didn’t really look too comfortable on the ball even though he wasn’t pressured so much.
    Ajax midfield was non-existant. Horrible.

    I say it once again, Di Maria has a good work-rate. Really impressed by him. I’d say, Ronaldo-Di Maria-Alonso-Marcelo are the players that we need to keep an eye on next week.

    Did you gusy know that Sergio ramos was the 1st Spaniard that scored for EE last weekend this sesason? They are just like Arsenal

    1. Regarding Van Der Wiel, it is really unfair if we take their worst match to evaluate a player. Everyone was off for Ajax, so was Van Der Wiel. More importantly, the tactics Ajax used was completely different from what we play, so it’s even harder to compare.

      However, we can still see his skills in both defense and offense, and frankly, I don’t know if he is really at a level that we are willing to offer him a contract or will he ever be. It’s hard to tell, but right now, I don’t see his potential, not in his off day. Let’s look at a better game of Ajax to evaluate things again.

      Meanwhile, the club is finding a “creative way” to offer more money to Dani Alves, according to barcastuff. Let me guess, free Audis or free houses? Or maybe give him free memberships to anyone he chooses? Bartering with players will be one hell of a funny way to pay salaries. πŸ˜€

  10. I think we’ll see a comfortable victory tomorrow in the wave of energy building up towards the Clasico. I’ll be hoping for two goals for Villa, who could use an extra bit of confidence leading up to the big match.

    EE’s late time-wasting send-offs were just bizarre to me, but the team is nonetheless extremely dangerous. I think they absolutely earned their win over Ajax, and we can look forward to an extremely exciting Clasico come Monday.

  11. Alright, let me just say my final thoughts now:

    I thought Ajax were Almeria-esque in their horribleness. Absolute sh*t. They couldn’t string simple 10 yard passes together. This is the first time I’ve actually watched a half of EE football this season, so they could have been excellent or average for all I know. I honestly couldn’t tell because Ajax were just so horrible. That’s not an attack on EE. If anything, it’s against Ajax.

    I thought Pedro Leon’s DIVE was horrible and I’m not going to take that back. If Busi/Alves did it, I’d be on them like pale on Iniesta. No joke. Especially since it lead to a goal.

    I gave Madrid credit where it was due (i.e. their goal), though I doubt anyone noticed. And I also said that I wanted to focus on tomorrow’s match before getting into the El Clasico fever.


    I just hate that someone would come here and say they aren’t trying to”starting a war” when it’s obvious they want to provoke a (negative) reaction with finger-point galore. Defending your club doesn’t have to mean attacking another. Yeah, there were some provocative comments on here; rise above it. You’ll get more respect that way. Calling an entire blog “delusional” when talking about 2/3 people is not the way to get it. I don’t really like this trend of trollers that claim they are fighting against bias/ignorance, but attack people instead of defending their club.

    I agree with Jose and Jnice that there were a couple of overzealous comments. Not cool guys. There’s a limit to personal attacks on players. We call out/giggle at the Madridistas that do it over at the EE Offside (which, by the by, I don’t post on or go to often), so when we do the same childishness, it should be that same. If we want to maintain a standard, we should start with ourselves. Word.

    I love the rivalry between the team and the jabbing and Morbo–I also have the many times mentioned .gifs and YouTube videos. In fact I posted a .gif not that long ago.– but I don’t want it to get ugly.

    Arsenal tie was bad enough.

    /possibly dramatic rant.

  12. oh no, not espn3. It tends to get all glitchy when I watch on espn3
    why can’t they have such an important game on espn or espn2 UGH!

  13. Just left a message on Villa’s facebook, about the New Zealand Miners. Wonder if he replies. I know he has a soft spot for the mining community.

    1. I don’t think his jersey can reach the miners though.
      The robot got stuck. The Australian robot will reach there later.

    2. To be honest im not even sure if there still alive…
      its been 6 days now and nothing. Its preety heart wrenching for the families. They have sent another robot in but it hasnt found anything.

    3. I know, its preety sad really. They say the gas levels in the mine may never go down, its just too risky for them I guess.

    4. Ima jafa haha i have no idea where im goning to watch the game yet. Itll be tuesday morning for us ay?

    5. Ah okay. Any Wellingtonians want to get together, skip work, and watch the match instead then?? (long shot πŸ™ )

    6. youd be lucky to watch it with any Cules. Iv found most Kiwis lean towards Madrid more… just go to a bar in town. Theres usually a good atmosphere.

  14. Oh good, GOLTV’s site still says it will air El Clasico. I can’t wait to hear what Ray says this year.

  15. Good lord that Arsenal match was crazy. Braga has around 30% possession and wins 2-0? What a crazy game we love.

    I wouldn’t let EE supporters wind us up. It’s all partisan stuff. Some people enjoy getting the goats of others, and the morbo is flowing hot and heavy right now. It’s probably hard, but I’d just let it pass. As Ramzi notes, the players will settle it on Monday. Everything else is just nonsense, that comes down to the childhood “Did!” “Didn’t!” games that we all played.


    1. Arsenal game—so sad—and after this weekend—-how do I face my hubby (Chelsea fan) and my son (Man U) fan—must hide in shame from family.
      At least we all agree on Barca in this house!

    1. Nah, I think they should save him for the Clasico. No point taking a chance on him getting injured in this game.

  16. On a more serious note, I made up the Thong Boy nickname for Wrong Ronaldo. It was because of the funny way he stands when he is preparing to take a free kick. It has absolutely nothing to do with his sexuality, or insinuations about his sexuality.

    For the record, I don’t care who a player does or doesn’t screw. His free time is his own, whether it’s Valdes, Messi, Xavi or TB. Whatever. There is a certain, to me reprehensible quality about the homophobia present in our beautiful game. Like racism, it’s unspeakably vile, because it damns someone for something over which they have no control.

    It would be my preference that such nonsense not rear its head in this space. I’ve seen him labeled “Gaynaldo” a few times, as if that is somehow a slur to be called gay. Though I suppose in the dimwittedly macho worldview of too many players, coaches and supporters, it is a slur.

    For the record, it’s awful. I can’t tell someone how to think, but I can police these pages. My moderating hand hasn’t been at all heavy, and it won’t be. But I simply will not tolerate any kind of hate speech here, be it racist, sexist or homophobic.

    Sorry to get all heavy, but I felt it needed to be said. Thanks.

  17. Speaking of gay. today (nov.24th) marks the 19th anniversary for the death of the great freddy mercury, RIP

  18. 1. I am sorry but Arsenal cannot cut it much in the CL if they continue to play they do..I mean the only clear chance they had was that penalty shout on Vela (which I felt was a stonewall one)

    2. Two amazing finishes by the Braga dude..the 2nd one was a true golazo

    3. Cesc looks absolutely exhausted..maybe not physically but mentally. The “transfer” saga had an effect on his psyche?

    4. I did not see the Madrid game and thus saved some of my brain cells from bursting (thanks Jnice)

    5. I want an easy win maybe a 0-2 or 0-1 so that the Mierdas can go on about their goal-scoring record and then we annihilate them at the Camp Nou.

    6. Crynaldo spontaneously combusts in his bathroom in three hours πŸ˜€

    1. Cesc spent more time injured than Xavi.. Maybe sitting on the bench here will do him good in that respect..

    2. I’ve heard many Gooners say that perhaps his heart is in Barcelona.
      No shit geniuses..that is his home ya know!

  19. dont know about others,but i think we should really keep an eye on marcelo.
    And saw the rm games.they attack pretty quickly.nd lets call a spade a was always on cntrol,never even hit top gear.
    This classico is vital.they hired the special mouth just to beat us,if they cant then their spirit will be broken 4a lng time.mou is their last its essential that we beat them 4the lng trm.
    Regarding classico,i m optimistic we beat them 2 1,dnt fear them but i respect them in this match.
    Masch should start in CLASSICO above biscuits IMO

    1. I actually stated this earlier in this long post but its easy to miss. We must be wary of Marcelo, he’s their Dani Alves on the other wing..

      But likewise, they must be very wary of Alves. Alves will be finding the space Marcelo leaves behind, and is a much better player. I think this might help us more in the end.

    1. I don’t think the ban is long enough. I believe that some acts of violence (stomping is another one) should warrant at LEAST a 10-match ban. Suarez’ bite is one such incident.

      For me, “Barca quality” isn’t just on the pitch. Suarez isn’t Barca quality by that standard. Given the kicking and other abuse that our players take, it is imperative that a Barca player be able to hold it together. And from the WC handball incident to this latest episode, Suarez has all the qualities of a player whi can’t handle mental pressure.

      I imagine that, if he was ever on our serious list, that he’s just been crossed off.

    2. Crossed off? I think he’s been crossed off, the crossing off’s been bleached and the page burnt and later the hands washed and disinfected

    3. For as talented as he is, he certainly is another Cronaldo. Cry, cry, cry. Bite, bite, bite. and he’s saying how he’ll not move here cuz pep’s brother is his agent.

  20. Hmmmm …. interesting. I donn’t think that Guardiola will seriously consider starting Mascherano over Busquets, but you can certainly see the logic in it.

    What sMasch gives that Busquets doesn’t is the quality of a pure destroyer. As I noted in the Almeria match, Mascherano makes everything so hard. He’s always there as a disruptive force.

    But he hasn’t earned that consideration, he would be the first to tell you. The way he has seamlessly gone about doing his job on the club is impressive, btw. He is a world-class DM who would start for almost any club on the planet. True class all the way.

    1. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by Mascherano.
      Start Busi today because he was rested over the weekend.
      Start Busi and Mascherano together for clasico to make CR’s life miserable.

    2. 4-2-3-1? kinda like a Spain thing but not?
      Alves, Pique, Someone (love to rest Abi AND Puyi), Maxwell
      Busi, sMasch

      Pedro in for a DM as needed

    3. Oh My I mixed up my dream lineups for today and Monday—need more coffee
      Alves, Pique, puti, Abi
      Busi, sMashe
      Messi, Xaviniesta
      Pedro in for DM as needed

      Alves, Pique, Someone (love to rest Abi AND Puyi), Maxwell as a back 4

      SORRY- been up since 5:30 backing for tomorrow

  21. Apparently in Marca they’re saying Madrid will go with a 3 man midfield. Ozil out, and Lass in.

    What’s everyones thoughts on the Madrid red card fiasco? I had not the slightest clue it was a big deal, but the papers are blowing it up. It’s all over twitter. And apparently they might see punishment.

    I find that really, really harsh. What Ramos and Alonso did was smart. Apparently, only the Spanish league does this. All the english writers are baffled by this technique and don’t know what to do.

    What confuses me more, is the Liga and the Champions League must have different rules. Pique picked up his one game suspension yellow, then picked up another giving him a red card ban. Instead of a 5 yellow ban. I gues in the CL its the same thing because they picked up two yellows, and theres no red card ban? Hm.

    Barca play today, all my bosses are out of office, and the MLS expansion draft is today. Oh yeah!

    P.S. Whoever posted that messi ‘deal with it’ .gif is amazing. It’s always been my favorite meme and I just kept looking at it and laughing yesterday.

    1. Re: the Alonso and Ramos red cards. It’s not the classiest thing to do, and if I was a ref I would resent being dicked around with like that. I understand the reasoning behind it, but even though Barca would likely do it too I find it a bit cynical and disrespectful. I can’t get too worked up about it, though.

    2. Disrespectful? Hardly.
      Pique tried to do this last weekend. Alves did it last season, it’s a smart move!

      They do it in a smart way, mostly time wasting. It’s a lot better than say, going in late on purpose. It hurts no one, and it’s a smart move to clean the slate. I don’t see it as cynical or disrespectful, it’s just a smart, smart move. It’s great micromanaging by the players to know this as well.

    3. If I was a ref I would find it disrespectful to have a player messing around wasting time deliberately trying to provoke me into carding him instead of getting on with playing the game. The ref is there to assure fair play, not to be an unwitting participant in a player’s or manager’s agenda. It may be “smart play” in terms of benefit to the team, but I don’t like it when Madrid does it, and I don’t like it whan Barca does it either. That’s just my opinion, and you can disagree. That said, I’m not getting my panties in a twist about it.

    4. It sounds like a whole lot of silliness to get worked up over. The incident was bad sportsmanship, sure (time-wasting in a 4-0 blowout, twisting the suspension rules), but instituting an exceptional punishment is just arbitrary.

  22. A scorned Gooner sayeth to me:
    And trust me, Barca would do worse than Arsenal if you was in the PL.And even in La Liga, most of it is coz of one player from Mars whose really messy to play against.. So respect what we have achieved in the PL..

    1. It’s a pointless argument. The two clubs aren’t of like quality. Every one of our starters was with his NT for the World Cup, and is acknowledged as one of the best in the world, hence being capped. Our club would do well in any league on the planet, because class will always out.

      Now, those English winter trips to the likes of Wigan and Bolton would certainly wear on a side, but without question, we have the quality to deal with them, parked buses or no.

      The question is, however, academic.

  23. masch should start in classico,coz its an octane match,rm will play with high speed.masch is adapted to this,he can get under their skin by some destroyer type tackle.for all his attributes biscuit is not suited for this octane match(im 1st leg,classico@camp nou).another thing his passing range is much underrated.if special mouth marks xavi,then he can do that.busi IMO cant do that both.
    About consideration,i think he has earned that,and he nw seriously fits the barca system.his passing is more crisp w r t his early games.
    Or both can play,in dat case ini has to play as a lw,which i think will not favour us in classico.if we can stop marcelo in the left flank of rm with alves nd messi then the game is ours.
    I think messi should play as a rf to bring havoc @left flank.their cb pairing is gr8,so we should surprise their cb by playing pedro in the middle,coz he is fast,2footed,has gr8 shot.that way villa can occupy ramos.
    Todays lineup should include VV
    P WBP V

    1. “another thing his (Mascherano) passing range is much underrated.if special mouth marks xavi,then he can do that.busi IMO cant do that both.”

      From the deep depth of my Mascherano bias, I still have to disagree. I agree that Masche-can, but I disagree that Busque-can’t.

    2. If all else were equal, I’d do something like:

      Al Pq Py Ab
      Ms Xa Ini
      Krk Vil

      Yes, that’s right. Starting Krkic in El Clasic. The reasoning:

      VV: Starting keeper. Period
      AL: Starting RB, but with instructions to play more controlled.
      PQ: Should be rested and brilliant
      PY: The stength of ten in El Clasic
      AB: Get him loose with a few minutes today
      MSC: sMasch smash! Also the safety if Alves gets caught up
      MS: Will raise more hell on the wing
      XA: Duh
      INI: Double duh, with the addition of destabilizing, space making runs
      KRK: Should be riding high and full of confidence, and his quickness and creativity should get ’em soft for Pedro in the 2nd half
      VIL: Tell him to go all out for the first half, sub for Busi, plan on a P!/Krkic/Messi front line for second half, with a lineup that morphs into:

      ALV PQ PY AB
      MSC XA BSQ
      P! MS KRK

    3. so basically no width on the left at all?

      I love Villa but he’s no Henry to stick to the left wing and raise hell

    4. If we are starting a creativity battle then, here is my candidate for the big prize (lets hope the lines work):






      And if you think this is defensive, think again. RM will not even know what will hit them.

    5. Nice formation Ramzi but I don’t think the triangles look tht good in this sort of formation? Aren’t those two flat lines of 3?

  24. From barcastuff:
    Barcelona have only lost 1 of their last 14 away games in the Champions League

    Pity it was against That Guy

    1. Hmm let me recall the some of the away games in the Champs League:

      FCK 1-1 FCB
      Rubin 1-1 FCB
      Arsenal 2-2 FCB
      Stuttgart 1-1 FCB
      Rubin 0-0 FCB
      Inter 0-0 FCB
      Chelsea 1-1 FCB*
      Bayern 1-1 FCB
      Lyon 1-1 FCB

      We don’t win a lot away do we?

      *You know why..

    2. yeah its a Pep thing I stretches till the treble season where we annihilated teams at home

      When was our last away win anyway?

      Shaktar 1-2?
      or Lisbon 2-5?

  25. Whoa! R/T to BCN right now is just over a kilobuck. So if I can snag a match ticket on Friday, I am SO going to El Clasic, probably for a Friday-Wednesday thing, or something.

    1. The second draw for socis is on Friday a.m., and I figure I’m due. Here’s why:

      –During the first drawing for match tickets in September, I had a ticket in the same awesome place I was sitting last year for El Clasic, and the system crashed as I was paying for my ticket!

      –But because my flight would have been booked for a Monday return, I would have been scuh-roood, since the match was moved to the Monday, and Iberia charges crazy rebooking fees, we would have had to find a new place to stay for a day, etc.

      So I figure I’m due this time, because a few days ago, the air fares were in the thousands. Now, when I check on a whim, they’re $990? And nobody in my group in on vacation for that period. It’s gotta be fate. Could she be that cruel twice in a row? So I have the flight on hold, and we’ll see @3 a.m. on Friday. (Fingers crossed.)

    2. Luck mate!

      I do want Masch to play in Classico. He is quite quick and against quick counters from EE, could be quite useful.

      I’d go with Ramzi’s suggestion as well though most probably would have maxwell instead of adriano.

    1. Ya that looks about right, I just hope Masch won’t get too excited and get himself sent off.

  26. Official Lineup: (barcastuff) : Valdes – Alves Pique Puyol Adriano – Xavi Mascherano Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa.

    Serious lineup. We need these 3 points.

  27. Cast your vote here for the 2010 BBC African Footballer of the Year.

    I voted for Eto’o.


  28. @Cesc Pistol

    On papers, the selection look like a flat dual lines. In practice, this is as far as it can be from being flat. I consider this selection (3-3-2-2) more triangles-generator than current Barca tactics.

    Pique’s (initial) position here is to create a diagonal cover to Alves and Mascherano. Moving the ball forward from the back, that’s a triangle.

    The fact that you have Puyol to make a second cover means that Alves will not need to play behind the ball in Barca’s half. Moving forward means that Alves start the initial triangle with Pique+Mascherano, then he push forward to create a flanked triangle with Mascherano+Xavi (with Alves being in front of Mascherano-not on the same line). Then he continue to reach a triangle with Xavi and Messi.

    The same structure happens on the left.

    With Alves and Adriano/Maxwell moving forward together (now that they are covered defensively), and with Xavi-Iniesta in the Center behind dynamic Messi+Villa moving the ball from one side to another and forward thru the flanked triangles will go smoothly, and the way the flanks stretch the opponent lines (or else they get too lethal to contain) will create spaces in the center for the central triangles to work. And if you look at the players employed in the center, there are ultimate level of triangles there. Starting from defense to midfield to offense.

    If Pep try this once, he will make it one of his favorite options.

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