Liga Preview: Osasuna – Barcelona
I’m still in I can’t believe how crush we were mode, even though it’s been 4 days since El Clásico. I spent most of that time traveling and being completely isolated from the news by familial demands, so perhaps my inability to properly process this momentous occasion is understandable. Or perhaps no one has and my disconnect from the blogosphere hasn’t caused anything special at all. [GolTV is reshowing the match as I write this and so that first paragraph took me 45 minutes to write.]
So now we’re back to the pedestrian Liga teams. You know, the ones that really decide the title. Ho hum. Just 3 more vital points. Yes, we’re up 2 points in the table, have a 5 goal lead in head-to-head, and are made of diamond encrusted diamonds. We’re like some bizarro Damien Hirst, er, art. Unlike that guy, though, there’s substance behind the flash. And that substance is top of the league, suckaaaas.
And that substance is going to Pamplona. Maybe. The planes are all on the ground in Spain and that’s a problem. The weather is fine, but the air traffic controllers are striking. Sort of. It’s more like they’re simply not showing up. And now the military has decided it’s time they stepped in and took command of the control towers. Hmm. Militaries in the streets? If it gets me my Barça! I guess we’ll get there via bus or train?
I can never think of Osasuna without thinking of Messi’s goal in the 85th minute that showed most everyone what kind of business we meant that first year under Guardiola. It seems like it was ages ago–a different lifetime, when we didn’t all believe in the power of Guardiola, in the Tiki-Taka Revolution–but it wasn’t and we’ve only returned to the scene of the crime once. That was a 1-1 draw you might remember as one we let get away thanks to a 90th minute Pique own goal. Oops.
This year we’re a bit banged up, with Messi missing some training this week but still making the squad list and Milito out. The full squad list is: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Bojan, Messi, Jeffren, Mascherano, Keita, Busquets, Pedro, Maxwell, Adriano, Abidal, Thiago.
There’s no excuse for being anything other than focused. We’re top of the league and we might as well stay there for the rest of the season, right? And that starts with Osasuna. Madrid will be focused at home against Valencia, so we have to start this off right by getting 3 points and not giving them an inch. If they fail, we have to have already taken advantage of it. There is no margin for error, even after a 5-0 heiney-whippin’.
Osasuna, quickly: 12th in the table, 4-3-6 (15pts, 12GF, 13GA), but at home they’re 4-2-0 (11GF, 2GA). Granted, their toughest opponent at Estadio Reyno de Navarra was Real Sociedad, who sit in 9th, but that’s still an impressive record. Levante and Almeria managed draws. For Barça, this is perhaps not as daunting as it would be for a different team. Guardiola’s men are the only to have never lost away. They’ve also never drawn (neither has Sevilla, but they’ve lost 3 times), so their 6-0-0 (21GF, 3GA) record must be daunting to Osasuna.
Official Prediction: 0-2. A win is a win and it won’t be easy despite the scoreline. Osasuna knows how to kick, even though they’re 8th in the Fair Play table with 32 yellows and 3 reds (compared to Barcelona’s 24 and 2, which ties them for first with Depor).
Time: Game is at 8pm local, 2pm EST. Check your local time here.
TV: Here in the US, the match is on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com
Weather: Better than where I am. Winter can go eat a bag of [censored].
Talk at me in the comments.