Why Basques Have Heart Attacks

Copa del Rey Preview: Athletic – Barça, Wednesday 2pmEST 4pmEST, ESPNDeportes/ESPN3.com

An enraged Puyol would be deadly in these confined quarters.

You want to talk cathedrals? I’ve been to a lot of them. Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica? Check. Notre Dame? Yup. St. Patrick’s? Been there, done that. I might as well have been born in a front pack, given how much time I spent in one during my pre-walking days and given that my parents insisted on entering every church they saw throughout our many travels, I basically grew up with stained glass as my playmates. What I’m saying is: I know a cathedral when I see one. And San Mamés is a cathedral. Not just because it’s called La Catedral–though that does play a part–but rather because it’s where we should all end up eventually, if just once, to see a match. It was built in 1913, after all, and is an integral part of the Bilboner landscape. I dearly wish to find myself wandering/stumbling around that enchanted land, pintxos in one hand and a zahato in the other.

No doubt Carles Puyol does this same homage each year, except he probably also wears the skin of a fully grown bull he has just flayed during a corrida. Imagine being some pleasantly tipsy Basque taking the scenic route home through your foggy town and running into that. Makes me shiver for them.

Puyol has another chance to scare very nice people into straight jackets as Barça return to Bilbao for a Copa del Rey date with Athletic. And what a game it should be, with a loss of any sort putting us squarely out of the competition. The squad also has a  completely new face in it as Ibrahim Afellay is included for the first time, having been unavailable against Levante. He won’t get the start, but he might make an appearance, which would be pretty cool. Gabi Milito, our want away defender (and who can blame him with the 279 minutes he’s played in all competitions this year?), is also in the squad, but as with Afellay, I don’t expect him to get the start.

Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Adriano, Puyol, Piqué, Milito, Abidal, Busquets, Mascherano, Thiago, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Afellay, Jeffren, Bojan, Messi, Villa, Pedro.

I’m expecting our best 11 to be out there from the beginning and I’m also expecting it to be a rip roaring match from start to finish. If there’s a 0-0 draw, we go to extra time and then penalties. If Barça wins or there’s a draw including goals (1-1, 2-2, etc), Barça qualifies. If Athletic wins, Athletic moves on. Pretty simple stuff, really. They’ll probably start with 10 behind the ball and if they score on a counter, they’ll  definitely sit back and just lump the ball out. A goal for us, however, means they have to come out and really play, so expect us to attack like crazy from the get-go. Think the first few minutes of Arsenal at the Emirates last year.

It’s either going to be very good natured or Total War, William Tecumseh Sherman style. Kick first and simply never ask questions. Also don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes. Wait, no, that was something else. Okay, so it was “I shall return!”…no, no, that’s not it either. Must have been “I can’t let you do that, Dave.” Yes, that’s it.

Official Prediction: 0-2, goals by Messi. Afellay subs on for the final 5 minutes and does some little jinkityjinkjink moves on the sideline and is rewarded by a vicious studs up slash. Welcome to Spain, good sir.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.

118 Comments

  1. Ezequiel
    January 4, 2011

    If Pep wants his squad to keep the rhythm, Barca needs to move on. So I expect the best possible line-up, even though I’m sure that Puyol won’t take part.

    • Ezequiel
      January 4, 2011

      Gotta take the Puyol part back. Pep told at the press conference:

      “His recovery went well but he’s still not 100 %. It will be a little risky [to play him] as we have a packed schedule ahead of us but we can see that he is doing well, and he wants to make this trip. Perhaps he can help his teammates for the whole ninety minutes, perhaps just fifteen, and maybe he’ll just do that from the subs bench.”

      http://www.totalbarca.com/2011/news/guardiola-its-going-to-be-a-winner-take-all-match/

  2. momo
    January 4, 2011

    Officially registered to BFB. (Crosses out “BFB registration” from bucket list.

  3. soccermomof4
    January 4, 2011

    OK, start best 11 minus Puyi. We don’t drop in form if we have just 10 out of 11 of our best (and I think we can still shine with 9 out of 11 if Messi is 1 of the 9).

    Some have said it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be out of this competition for squad and fatigue reasons but I disagree. Silverware is still silverware. It’s not as though you’re talking about the Catalan Cup or something; It’s the Copa del Rey, our domestic cup! Anyway, it’s worth fighting for just to make sure that EE doesn’t get it. The Basques are gonna start their best 11 available because it’s their only chance at any silverware this year. We have pretty clear sailing after this hurdle until the final.

    On a sad but unrelated note, I just undecorated for Christmas. The red and blue lights are down in the bedroom. I’ve deblaugranafied the bedroom. So sad, but they couldn’t stay up forever.

    • blitzen
      January 4, 2011

      they couldn’t stay up forever.

      Why not? Tell your husband it’s “mood lighting” and he’d better leave them up if he wants you to be in the mood anytime in the next calendar year. 😀

      • soccermomof4
        January 4, 2011

        The first red strand wouldn’t work. Had to replace them quickly. Hubby walked in, saw that only the blue were lit and said,” good, you’re supporting Chelsea” ( at least I thouhgt quickly enough to say, “No! Everton!”).
        So you see, it’s too risky to leave them up indefinately; the red might burn out again(if the blue did it would be ok (I kinda like Arsenal (but not when they’re playing Barca)). Besides, it didn’t really go with the decor (they will go up again for the Clasico and the CL Final) Note: Hubby’s first team is Barca, too. So I can overlook the Chelsea thing.

  4. beeeef
    January 4, 2011

    i saw on barcastuff or somewhere else that the San Mames is sold out. Should be a great atmosphere at the game, and a very exciting 90 (or more) minutes.

    i really think we’ll put at least one past them. keeping barca scoreless over 180 minutes is near impossible, and while i don’t have the stats to back it up, i’d bet it’s never happened under Pep. hell, if memory serves me right, i think the 1st leg at camp nou was one of maybe two or three games that we didn’t score in under guardiola.

    just hope nobody gets hurt.

  5. Kari
    January 4, 2011

    We’re so gonna go full-on manita line-up on their a**es.

    Valdes
    Alves – Pique – Puyol – Abidal
    Xavi – Busi – Iniesta
    Pedro!!*- Messi – Villa

    Let’s do this!

    *It wouldn’t surprise me to see Afellay, but considering this is a must-win/draw match, I wouldn’t want him to have a baptism by fire. And P!!’s been our second most decisive player in front of goal. It really is tempting to see a Afellay – Messi – Bojan front line which, when it most likely fails to work, would see Pedro!! and Villa come off the bench.

    But Bojan hasn’t earned the right to start such a crucial game and I don’t want such a debut for Ibi either.

  6. OSBAG
    January 4, 2011

    Finally am a regustered. Captha officially kept me off commenting for a while. I dont see Bilbao defending fulltime like they did last month and even if they do i believe we should still be able to snuck a goal or two past them. I see ibi coming on though and expect some adriano shootings.
    lineup,
    PINTO- MOTO GP PIQUE ABIDAL ADRIANO- BISCUITS XAVINIESTA- P! VILLA MERCILESS-

  7. chaospheory
    January 4, 2011

    We’ve already been here already, early on when we were playing like we had forgotten how to shoot at the goal, and scored 3 without Messi. I have high hopes.

  8. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 4, 2011

    a draw will enough to make us through the next round.
    but it’s Barcelona! It will be difficult, but I believe we can win, maybe 1-0 or 2-0… 🙂

    just a little concern with our back four without Puyol (whom Pep said hasn’t 100% fit) and Maxwell (injured)…
    I think Adriano will be the LB, if so I hope he can deliver a good job… 😀

  9. TeamNike
    January 4, 2011

    There will be an amazing atmosphere! Can’t wait! For now, I’m off to work at Nike with my Barcelona jersey! =P

    • Kari
      January 4, 2011

      Did you get it for free? 😛

      Haven’t see you post before (although that’s more of an implication of my absentmindedness than your non-posting-ness…? Okay, I’ll just stop before the Vocabulary Police come out).

      Anyway, welcome TeamNike! Don’t forget to give me a discount! 😀

      • Kari
        January 4, 2011

        …if I ever buy another Barca jersey that is (which is very likely).

      • TeamNike
        January 5, 2011

        LOL I get my Barcelona jerseys for $48, original is $80. but i get to wear it to work! And all the Barca gear i get discounted! =)

          • January 5, 2011

            Apologies for that. I’ll fix right away. I misread the schedule (for some reason read 22:00 local time as 20:00).

            It is, indeed, at 4pm.

  10. mardia
    January 4, 2011

    Knock on wood, of course, but I really don’t see how it can possibly get to a 0-0 draw, especially if we start our best 11, and there’s no reason why we wouldn’t.

    And forgive me for asking, but I’m a little unclear, if there’s a draw involving goals (1-1, 2-2, etc) why exactly would Barca advance? Is it because we have the greater goal difference in the competition so far?

    • Kari
      January 4, 2011

      No, by the away goals rule as this is a 2 legged tie. Think of it as a CL tie if it helps.

  11. mega_tajh
    January 4, 2011

    I’m guessing no Revista today???? or did I miss Jnice post…

    • Mario
      January 4, 2011

      Here’s a good site I use that provides all kind of footy material you can download. From Revista de La Liga to La Liga 360 to Full Match highlights of mostly every league. http://motd2u.blogspot.com/

      This site comes in pretty handy when I have a boring day at work and need to pass the time. With everything provided right there, its truly bookmark worthy.

      • Jnice
        January 5, 2011

        Dude gets his links from pakman at fbtz or he is pakman himself.

    • Jnice
      January 5, 2011

      I posted Revista in the previous thread, but it was awaiting moderation. Let’s try this again. (x2) Guess I still can’t provide direct links?

      Revista De La Liga 01-04-11

      *http://hotfile.com/dl/94256650/8c4a69f/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_04-01-11.avi.html

      or

      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/6wCG8pZ/Revista De La Liga – 04-01-11.avi

      or

      *http://bitshare.com/files/9h2d8vln/Revista-De-La-Liga—04-01-11.avi.html

      Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

      • CReddy
        January 5, 2011

        Jnice, do you know if there is a way to register for fbtz.com or any other similar website/forum? I basically want to download games played in the previous seasons and also the current one.
        And thx for links, always appreciated.

        • Jnice
          January 5, 2011

          Registration at fbtz.com is closed now, but it is open periodically. I’ll let this site know when it opens up.

          For now, you can register at rojadirecta.com, a football forum with many links, though not even close to as thorough or organized as fbtz.com.

          • Sheena
            January 5, 2011

            Hey Jnice, if it isn’t too much trouble, do you have any links to download the game against Villareal from earlier this season? Please and thank you 🙂

          • Jnice
            January 5, 2011

            Okay, so there are a couple of different options:

            JSC Sport 720p HD Broadcast

            First Half: *http://hotfile.com/dl/82434318/9bd5153/fcb_1st_vil-regmo.blogspot.com.mkv.html

            Second Half: *http://hotfile.com/dl/82446066/9d112e2/fcb_2nd_vil-regmo.blogspot.com.mkv.html

            or Media Fire if you prefer: *http://www.mediafire.com/?ot4zy2b47ajwd

            Credit for those go to J-Reyes at fbtz.com

            or if you want some other options… this page has several:

            *http://forum.rojadirecta.org/showthread.php?106502-FUTBOL-La-Liga-BBVA-J11-Barcelona-vs-Villarreal-13-11-10

  12. Pyro
    January 5, 2011

    Guys if you understand Spanish you will enjoy this
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqEht7eh6II
    starts around minute 3:00

    • Ryan
      January 5, 2011

      Haha, I love how tiny they make Maradona. Even los reyes magos can’t make Iniesta less pale it seems!

  13. K_legit
    January 5, 2011

    Registered and back from the lap of Mt Everest..I tell you guys you have to see Sagarmatha from up close to appreciate the sheer expanse

  14. barca96
    January 5, 2011

    Whoa so many new members.
    Welcome all!

    Im so glad that Ronnie declined the offer from Blackburn.
    It would be a serious step down for him. And he will get roasted in EPL.
    He is far too slow now and too predictable.

    Vasquez is injured. I was always hoping to see him in action. Always heard good things about him. Sigh.
    I guess he will never make it now if we are knocked out from CdR.

    Oh and Ibra is up to no good again.
    **http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNYEBFKG3os&feature=player_embedded

  15. Eklavya
    January 5, 2011

    Finally someone else who’s been dragged to every Cathedral in the world!!! Thank you Isaiah!!!

  16. Jim
    January 5, 2011

    Just watched Revista. Graham Hunter, who is usually not far off target, was pretty clear that Pep has lined up Cesc as the Xavi replacement and cites his comments from a press conference in November. I didn’t think Pep had talked about this but Hunter didn’t say they were off the record comments. Not wanting to start another discussion on this – just curious if anyone remembers it.

    • Jnice
      January 5, 2011

      I don’t remember it at all. Even Graham at times tends to add on to things that Pep or the players might’ve said a little too much at times.

      But I think he said Pep was hinting about Cesc so there were no direct name drops, but the bit about Iniesta not being Xavi I sort of remember.

  17. yelèna
    January 5, 2011

    any truth about the away black kit for next season??

    • January 5, 2011

      I highly, highly doubt it. First, the shirt’s logo is off center. Second, Nike never releases the kits this early. Third, they never release them separately, but instead as a full season kit (home, away, and GK).

      I’d wait until the official announcement (which could be earlier this year because of the new logo) before even beginning to think about whether they’re nice or not because most won’t be real.

      • January 5, 2011

        But black would SO fit my mood regarding the sale. Yes. Wonder if TeamNike has any illumination?

        • TeamNike
          January 5, 2011

          Ill check on the employee news website today at work. i dont think it would be announced this early but Ill check tonight anyways.

      • Tom_Johnson
        January 5, 2011

        I am digging the black shirt. So much that I am prepared to pay an additional fee for them to remove the Qatar Foundation logo and print Unicef instead.

  18. Diego
    January 5, 2011

    “how many games has maxwell played ahead of abidal this season and the last. Yet alot still sees abidal as first choice. He is stronger yes and therefore better against certain opponents, but Maxwell is certainly first choice and the better player too!”

    A Comment from Goal.com that got 21 thumbs up.

    If Anything happens to those 22 people, Kxevin will be the main suspect.

    • barca96
      January 5, 2011

      Kxevin, have some mercy on them! 😆

      • January 5, 2011

        Hey, this is a free world, and anyone can be as crazy as they want. And don’t forget that there’s an unfortunate element in this beautiful game of ours that might make many believe a non-black player is always the first choice. Not claiming it’s the case here, but I saw too much of it during France World Cup action to be silly enough to deny its existence.

        Or there’s just the kind of performance myopia that Abidal struggled with for so long, even in these spaces. He’s finally getting his due for what he does for the side from many, though note that Ray Ray, during El Clasic, went on and on with the same palaver about Maxwell being Guardiola’s first choice at LB. He isn’t. He was signed as a sub for Abidal, and now that Abidal has started going forward with increasing effectiveness, the single case for Maxwell getting a look over our French Greyhound is a less compelling one.

        This isn’t to say that Maxwell isn’t quality. But he does need reps. He was much better early in the season, when he was playing with more regularity. But unfortunately for him, Abidal is good, and durable, except for his annual 8-week groin injury.

        • Jim
          January 5, 2011

          I think you mean that the other way in the first paragraph, Kxevin? I’m curious about what you’re referring to in the WC. Did you mean the past WC in S Africa and if so, what incidents?

          • January 5, 2011

            Good catch, Jim. Thanks. And I just mean all of the message board savagery about “Les Blacks,” and none of the Les Bleus are “real” Frenchmen, because they aren’t white, etc. It’s been going on for pretty much every WC since Les Bleus’ composition changed.

  19. K_legit
    January 5, 2011

    @ Kxevin

    I spent my New Years in Thamel a part of Kathmandu the capital of Nepal. And my daring/stupid task in the vacation was the Everest Base Camp trek. The base camp itself is at 4000m approx half the height of Sagarmatha.
    Unfortunately my camera died in the trek and I don’t have any evidence save my breath that was lost looking at that the enormous peak.
    I saw the peak again when I was flying back from the plane

    Also it was my first experience of snow and I absolutely loved it.

    I have fallen head over heels for Thamel and Nepal and I would highly recommend anyone to stay there but at least for 15 days. Plus, we got thousands of foreign visitors (Aussie, European, American, etc) and it was great fun mingling with ’em.

    All in all a wonderful trip.

    • January 5, 2011

      That is awesome. Doing Everest Base Camp is on my bucket list. Almost went some years ago, but stuff happened and it never worked out. Still wanna go, though. That’s really cool. So jealous.

      First experience of snow, huh? That must have been crazy. I’m so used to snow, being here in the wintry Midwest. I can only imagine.

      • K_legit
        January 5, 2011

        More than the EBC you should look at doing the Silk Route trip all the way from Iran to China ..now that is my bucket list thing to do

        • blitzen
          January 5, 2011

          If I had unlimited time and money, that would be in my top three list of trips to make.

          • K_legit
            January 5, 2011

            I am saving up money for doing the trip ’round next year hopefully

          • blitzen
            January 5, 2011

            Out of curiosity, how much do you expect it will cost you? Are you backpacking or driving?

          • K_legit
            January 5, 2011

            backpacking..and I am trying to save around 2000 euros..let’s see if it happens

        • Culer_Than_Thou
          January 5, 2011

          You’ve got to – GOT TO – read William Dalrymple’s book, ‘In Xanadu’ then.

          • blitzen
            January 5, 2011

            I’ll second that! He’s a great writer–I’m on my third copy of From the Holy Mountain because I keep forcing on other people. 😀

          • K_legit
            January 5, 2011

            buying it tomorrow alongwith The Last Mughal

          • Culer_Than_Thou
            January 5, 2011

            Haha. I keep doing that too. Though my favorite is ‘City of Djinns’.

            Awesome writing. Though the fact that its a book on my city may have a part to play in my infinite affection for the book and the writer.

  20. January 5, 2011

    I just visited ESPN.com, and they’re saying that Deportes will be showing the match on delay at 6 p.m. CT. (That’s Central Time, not Cuddly Toy). Lots of Premiership stuff. But I imagine it will still be live on ESPN3.

    • Josep
      January 5, 2011

      Did you happen to be in the loop last night around 4:50? it was either you or Lillian Thuram..

      so everyone here supports Barca, my strongly supported team. who else do you support?

      On the same level of Barca support I support Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Mostly for football, but I enjoy basketball and ice hockey. On a similar level, but more frustrating recently is the Chicago Cubs, then the Bulls and the Bears. I love all those teams.

      As far as making other leagues enjoyable I still haven’t found my favorite EPL team. It was Arsenal, but I’m coming to hate Arsene and after reading about how he picks his youngsters sometimes illegally. I then decided it was Aston Villa, and they’ve played terribly ever since. At the beginning of the season I told myself I’d root for Blackpool as the super underdogs and they’ve done well and played extremely attractive football!

      In Italy, it was Milan for Ronnie. Then it was Inter for Samu. but now that I think about it, it might be Juve for how they’ve been hard done and their return to success. but then again maybe Lazio? Clearly, I don’t really support a main team and struggle to find a team I like in other leagues I just watch whats on.

      In Bundesliga and Ligue 1, I have no clue. I liked Lille last season and they’re on fire this campaign. Besides the obvious St. Pauli, I was cheering for Wolfsburg who seem to be collapsing.

      What’s everyone elses favorite teams?

      • January 5, 2011

        That was me, Josep, scurrying for the train and my second workout of the day. Give a shout next time you see me.

        • Josep
          January 5, 2011

          Hey it really was?? Nice. You were on Randolph and State I want to say? I don’t think thats right but I saw you crossing Randolph.

          I’m the long haired white kid with a coat with fur trim.. I do usually have headphones on though.

      • blitzen
        January 5, 2011

        Hi Josep! Good question. I can honestly say I don’t support anyone to the level of Barca (and Barca B, natch!), but I do have a few teams I like:

        In La Liga, I like Villareal, the Yellow Submarine and have generally positive feelings towards Valencia. My new favourite Segunda B team is our Copa rivals Ceuta, but that’s probably only because their coach is a hottie. 🙂

        In EPL, I have always liked Arsenal, especially during the Thierry Henry years, but it’s getting harder to like them now. On a good day they can still play beautiful football, but those days are few and far between. I also like Liverpool, for the history and the fans (and the Spaniards), but they are depressing the heck out of me right now.

        I don’t really follow the Bundesliga, but I generally cheer for the German NT if Spain is not involved. Don’t care for Italian football, mostly, and know very little about Ligue 1.

        I cheer for my local MLS team, Toronto FC, although the football is often dire and it looks like we might be losing our best player to Celtic. 🙁 I watch the NY Red Bulls games for Titi and Rafa.

        I usually only follow hockey during the playoffs (Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens), and I like Canadian football but rarely watch it as games aren’t aired on CBC anymore (Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Roughriders). I cannot stand either baseball or bouncieball (basketball…), for different reasons.

        • Josep
          January 5, 2011

          Oh how could I leave out the beloved Fire, Kxevin’s second favorite team 😛

          The blackhawks too, I watched them a lot when I was younger but the bandwagoning last year was too intense for me!

          Yeah I find serie A to be blah, EPL too, but those are all they air on FSC which I don’t have but my friend does. I like OM because I like Lucho! but I’m torn from so many teams haha. bouncieball haha thats awesome.

          • January 5, 2011

            The Fire. My eyes! My eyes!

            I follow the Chicago Bears, just because childhood passions become adult ones, and Formula One, where my favorite team is any team that beats the team that carries The Weasel (Fernando Alonso, for the unfamiliar).

      • Helge
        January 5, 2011

        I’ve been a Werder Bremen fan in the Bundesliga since I’m following football.
        EPL was Arsenal and Liverpool, but recently I like the Spurs. It was brilliant to see them rip Inter apart 😀
        Italy… I don’t really care. Maybe Juve. Definitely not Inter!
        Ligue 1 I certainly have some feelings for la Bestia Negra de Real Madrid, Olympique Lyon. Alles, les Gones! You can do it again 😀

  21. January 5, 2011

    So. Here’s the deal:

    Our IT guy has explained that everyone can post one link per comment (sorry, Jnice). Anything more than one link per comment, and you will get kicked into the moderation queue.

  22. Jnice
    January 5, 2011

    No games today, please. That means no Bojan from the start. Maybe a tad harsh, but I don’t think he deserves to start today. I don’t care if he has done well against Athletic in the past or if the Copa is his favorite competition. We can’t afford to waste 60 minutes with someone who is most likely not going to contribute anything meaningful and slip around all match.

    I don’t want to hear of Messi crying in the locker again because we got knocked out in the Copa.

    And going by Pep’s comments, Puyol won’t start today. No Maxwell, either, so probably Milito and Pique in the middle? I don’t think Busquets will play back there again because firstly that sends a message to Milito saying that you are free to leave and secondly, I don’t think Busquets is physical enough to deal with all the long balls into box.

    • January 5, 2011

      So what about a back line of Alves Pique Abidal Maxwell, then? I can’t see Milito starting today. Not in a must-win match.

      • January 5, 2011

        That would be the best backline considering puyols not playing..

      • vicsoc
        January 5, 2011

        I think Maxwell has suffered our left backs favorite injury and has a groin strain. Replace him with Adriano, and throw Mascherano on the field to give both fullbacks the license to roam forward and i think that’s the strongest backline if Puyol doesn’t play.

        • blitzen
          January 5, 2011

          I agree with vicsoc. I think Masch will start if he is fit enough (big if), and Milito might come in a sub.

          • Jim
            January 5, 2011

            Not sure I’d put him over Busquets as DM if that’s where you’re suggesting him, Blitzen. Keeping the ball will be huge tonight to help keep the crowd quiet and I feel he does better with the twins. I also like his extra height, although the more I watch the diving header Levante had against us the more I feel he made no real attempt to do anything about it. It went a lot closer to him than I originally thought.

            Please, no mucking about with Iniesta at LW.

          • blitzen
            January 5, 2011

            Busquets may be better at playing keepaway, but Mascherano is terrific at ball recovery, and I think his extra physicality might be an asset against the big Bilboners. They won’t be as keen to foul him as they will Busi. His passing skills are very good, too.

            I’m really fine with either of them, though. That’s the joy of being a Barca fan right now, we have too much talent and too few spots to ply them in!

      • Jnice
        January 5, 2011

        Maxwell is out, but I forgot about Adriano, so I think we’ll see Abidal and Pique in the middle for sure.

        • Jnice
          January 5, 2011

          Must be said, though, last time Adriano started at San Mames, he was dreadful.

        • soccermomof4
          January 5, 2011

          Oh, now I see Jnice’s reply- sorry for the redundancy!

  23. simple_barcafan
    January 5, 2011

    just checking if the registration is complete…

  24. Eklavya
    January 5, 2011

    Is there some sort of festival in Spain today? Im ay Malaga and all the streets are closed for cars, there are chairs everywhere and its freakin’ packed with people. Now imagine carrying suitcases through all that…ouch!

    • beeeef
      January 5, 2011

      no doubt the celebratory atmosphere is because one julio baptista is coming to town.

  25. yoyoma
    January 5, 2011

    So Josep I like Ajax (in mid 90’s they had very good team – then larg group of players went to Barcelona:), Arsenal (with Bergkamp, Henry, Viera, Adams, Overmars wow!), Juve and Milan in Seria A. I don’t have favorite team in Bundesliga because I don’t watch it. I’m NBA fan and I very like Boston and Chicago (hate LAL). btw I’m from Poland and we have some decent teams in our league but I don’t like any of them that much like Barca 🙂

    Hope that today Afellay and Thiago will get some time on the pitch – big match = big test. And of course I’m glad that Messiah is back.

    • blitzen
      January 5, 2011

      yoyoma, what is the secret behind all those talented Polish keepers? And why do they all seem to end up in England? 🙂

      • yoyoma
        January 5, 2011

        I really don’t know, even in Poland it’s a secret :)Maybe it’s because we are good in handball and volleyball… 🙂

  26. soccermomof4
    January 5, 2011

    Hey y’all, I won’t be around for the liveblog if there is one. My laptop is the one we hook up to the TV to get games that are internet only. Maybe I’ll check in from the desktop at halftime. So I just wanted to say hi, welcome to all the new guys, and big hugs to all the cules here ahead of the game.

    Go kick butt, Barca!!!!!!

  27. Jim
    January 5, 2011

    Back to work tomorrow after Christmas break but what a way to go ! Arsenal vs Man City followed by Barca. Wait a minute – Sky are stating it is live with a 10pm GMT start. Is that right? Or is it one of their “advertised as live but actually delayed transmission” efforts ?

    • blitzen
      January 5, 2011

      If it is at 4 pm EST, I believe that is 9 pm GMT.

  28. Jim
    January 5, 2011

    Buggers ! (sorry about the language.) That happened before without them telling us and i joined the Liveblog only to be 40 minutes behind everyone else and didn’t realise it till it was too late and knew what was going to happen. Wish they wouldn’t do this.

    Still, it means that I can watch both back to back without knowing scores so I won’t be joining the Liveblog. I know Vicsoc will be particularly cut up about this 🙂

    • January 5, 2011

      Yes its a 9PM UK kick off. Sky might be broadcasting it though, sometimes they dont specify but if you switch to the channel at 9 and press the red button they should have coverage of the game. At least I hope so! If not we will have to stream the first half..

      • Jim
        January 5, 2011

        I think we’re getting the whole game but with a delayed start, Hilal. shouldn’t argue i suppose. Its HD and the whole game on a night when there’s a huge game in the EPL.

        Watching it at the moment. You know, when you watch Arsenal against anyone but us they look pretty impressive. I suppose their downfall is that their game is our game and we do it better.

  29. blaugranaDOOM
    January 5, 2011

    Check check. I love the registration. Keep the instigators out.

    Today 3-1 to us. 1 messi, 1 pedro, 1 pique.

  30. K_legit
    January 5, 2011

    Any idea when the Ballon D’Or award ceremony is?

    Oh Gunner vs Citeh.. should be fun preview to the Copa game

  31. blitzen
    January 5, 2011

    Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Alves Pique Abidal Adriano – Xavi Busquets Keita – Pedro Messi Villa

    No Iniesta. Keiteeeeeeeee!!!!

    • blitzen
      January 5, 2011

      Jeffren and Thiago are the 2 players who don’t make the match squad and will watch the game from the stands.

      Poor Jeffren!

  32. Robert
    January 5, 2011

    Arsenal Can’t shoot straight! Posts galore.

  33. Jim
    January 5, 2011

    No Iniesta. Pep, what are you thinking about? We lose our dominance in midfield to some extent making Xavi work harder as Keita doesn’t offer as much and we lose those little destablising darts of Iniesta. I hope Messi is on song. Unless he’s expecting us to be on the back foot for the first half or so but that’s not realistic.

    I’m worried.

    • mei
      January 5, 2011

      iniesta is obviously the wildcard.
      Keita’s participation is perfectly reasonable , adding some muscle to the midfield.
      Busquets presence is justified by it , keep things flowing , release xavi in case he gets man marked and stay close to him.
      I expect messi dropping deep more than often in this match , and keita pushing up rather than just staying at the midfield role.

    • blitzen
      January 5, 2011

      Keita is less apt to get stomped on. He’s not as nimble as Iniesta, but he makes some great runs into the box.

      • Jnice
        January 5, 2011

        Yeah, Keita’s inclusion isn’t that surprising, really.

        He will come on in the second half if necessary.

  34. Jim
    January 5, 2011

    Can’t remember the last time he did that, ‘though, Blitzen. can you? I’m more worried by the effect on Xavi of having to carry the weight of the passing game. We could do without him bearing the load of working without Iniesta in a midweek game. Our game isn’t built on making big tackles really. It’s about pressing and winning the ball back that way. Still, we’ll see. Pep is usually right.

    • blitzen
      January 5, 2011

      I’m not talking about making tackles, I’m talking about avoiding them. Bilbao won’t be able to take on Keita the way they can Iniesta. And Xavi will have Busquets to share the passing responsibilities, and also Messi if he plays deep. I think it’s a good strategy to roll out with, and Pep can make changes later if needed.

      • blitzen
        January 5, 2011

        Also, Keita scored in this stadium last time we were here, he’ll be looking to do that again!

  35. Jim
    January 5, 2011

    LOL. I’m losing it. I’ve just said to the good lady “What’s Pep thinking about leaving Inieasta out?” She replies deadpan “Don’t worry. Xavi can handle it.”

    That’s my girl 🙂

  36. vicsoc
    January 5, 2011

    Liveblog is coming as soon as I figure it out

  37. Cesc Pistol
    January 5, 2011

    Keita means more steel in mid and more targets in the box.

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