CL Preview: Barcelona – Rubin Kazan, Tuesday 2:45pm EST, Fox Deportes, DirecTV
I’m sick. Not just of the Balon D’Or nonsense that I could give a pool noodle about, but also in the actual sense. Stupid weather. Stupid immune system. Stupid bottles of cava this weekend. You’re all to blame, but none of you are as guilty as Rubin Kazan. That’s right. I’m talking about you, you big third-place lummox. 10 points out of first with the season already complete. Thank goodness we don’t have to visit you because if I think NYC is cold right now (it’s 38F right now, but it feels like -400), well it’s 18F in Kazan and I’m not the least bit interested in visiting. Not for all the Alsou in the world. Yeah, I freaking know that’s the third time I’ve mentioned her in previews for games against Rubin, but if you can find me a better Tatar to link to, I’ll gladly update this post with her. Or him.
Okay, so they’re coming sweeping down the Volga, heavily armed with Nike ProCombat gear and freaking crazy cool jerseys. Pegasus on a jersey is badass. I don’t care what you say. Even if you say “Isaiah that’s not a Pegasus it’s some kind of jungle cat with wings.” I don’t care. Obafemi Martins wearing winged (pronounced wing-ged) creatures is a terrifying site to behold. Especially if you’re Andreu Fontas and you’re making your CL debut.
Did you ever think you’d see a miniature version of our squad going up against Rubin Kazan? Well with Marc Bartra, Andreu Fontàs, Thiago Alcántara, Jonathan dos Santos, and Víctor Vázquez all included in the lineup, you’re about to. I didn’t know we could get smaller. It’s important to note who is left out of the squad entirely: Alves, Xavi, Villa, Pedro, and Keita. That ruins my thinking for the midfield, but gives JDS a chance to step in and play a big match with the first team. It also ruins my thinking about the forward line where now we’ll see Messi getting the start. Hmm.
I had originally posited that we would be starting Pinto, Adriano, Fontas, Milito, Maxwell, Mascherano, Keita, Thiago, Bojan, Pedro, Jeffren, but now that Milito is still out with an injury and Pedro and Keita aren’t in the squad list, here’s some radical thinking:
Pinto, Adriano, Fontas, Bartra, Maxwell, Mascherano, Thiago, JDS, Jeffren, Bojan, Messi.
That’s one regular starter among them, so I could see Pique replacing Bartra, just to provide some backbone. You could see Busi in there instead of JDS, of course, but I think Thiago gets the start and I’d like to see Johnny Two Saints pick up some minutes as well. It would serve everyone well, I think, even if they’re smashed to pieces. Copenhagen would cry foul, but they just have to win and they’re in 2nd in the group. Rubin is required to win and have Copenhagen slip to a draw or defeat. If Rubin draw and Copenhagen loses, Rubin goes through on goal difference (they’re currently tied), so you know Rubin is going to come out to play hard.
And considering that they took all 3 points off of us at the Camp Nou last year when we started a first team squad (or something very close to that–plus we had The Yaya), there are no guarantees we won’t get our asses handed to us. That brings up an interesting question for Pep: do you try to maintain as much form as possible by starting as good a lineup as you can while still recognizing that this is a completely meaningless match for us? That would mean starting Busi instead of JDS, Iniesta instead of Thiago, and Puyol and Pique instead of Bartra and Fontas. You could also say Maxwell up top instead of Jeffren and Abidal at LB. There are possibilities there, of course, but I think the lineup I gave is worth a shot simply because it’ll give more players a taste of the big time.
Not that many of you will be able to watch. For those of you here in the US without DirecTV, the game is only available on Fox Deportes (or whatever the current name is). Lucky for me I’m sick because I might get to watch it live, if I’m not well enough to go to work. Problem is, though, my Kansas Jayhawks are in town for the Jimmy V Classic against Memphis tomorrow night and I have tickets. Must get better. Send good immune systems my way, please, to replace this run-down apparatus I’ve been relying heavily on throughout the last 2 fairly sleepless weeks. Or don’t and watch your previews die. Mwahaha.
Official Prediction: 1-2, goal by Bojan. Kid is unstoppable.
And thus this is another short preview that fails to touch on their tactical approach (3-5-2, I think) and how to counter it or the results of our trip to Russia (1-1, Villa PK). Whatever. I’m going to go drink warm liquids and fall asleep on my couch. Oh and if you’re into the whole buying-gifts-for-Isaiah thing, you should totally get me Compendium 1 of The Walking Dead. And don’t send it to Luke because he made fun of me for being snotty early. Then I called him poor.