A New Face: Barça – Betis [Updated]

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Copa Preview: FC Barcelona – Real Betis, Wednesday 4pmEST

While we were gearing up for the second leg of the Athletic Bilbao cup encounter, a friend said he hoped Real Betis would defeat Getafe. I chided him for being a wuss–obviously Getafe is better than Betis, so you’re going for the weaker route, eh? Gotta beat the best to be the best, right? I’m sure I flexed my giant biceps and ripped a phonebook in half. He shook his head: “No way, I’m just tired of playing the same teams over and over.” I’ve thought about that for a bit now and it really does strike me as the correct way to approach this.

Is Getafe better than Betis? Probably. But Betis is “new” in the sense that they’re a Segunda side–that Guardiola has called, basically, a Primera side in a Segunda body–and we haven’t played this yet this year. In case you’re like me and you don’t take much time out of your schedule to watch Segunda matches, let’s familiarize ourselves with the boys in white and green:

Real Betis descended at the end of the 2008-09 season, just losing out to Getafe on head-to-head (and goal difference), and then were left in La Segunda thanks to their head-to-head record with Levante and Hercules. This year they’ve built up a healthy 4 point lead at the top of the table and look likely to gain promotion, though anything can happen. They’re 13-4-2 (43GF, 17GA), so they’re no slouches at their level. They’ve won all of their matches at home save a 2-2 draw with Barça B (in which the youth team came back from down 2-0).

That obviously suggests they’re not so good on the road: losses to Albacete and Cartagena and draws against Celta, Huesca, and Las Palmas have complicated things for them a bit. With the first leg in the Camp Nou, Barça fans should feel a bit confident of getting through, especially considering Barça’s undefeated away record. That doesn’t mean the games don’t have to be played, but on paper this one could be a wash. Betis like to come forward–or at least that’s a pretty good assumption seeing as they’ve got the most goals in La Segunda and the fewest goals allowed–so that could present opportunities for Barça, who are very unlikely to give up possession.

For my money, their danger man is Achille Emana, despite Ruben Castro having 12 goals to Emana’s 10. Ruben Castro is a journeyman striker who is having a good run in Sevilla, but Emana is class. Whatever you say about the Cameroonian–he’s good in La Segunda, but what about against a real side?–he’s one of those players that I enjoy watching and I always think he has a shot of turning a match on its head.  So watch for him on the break.

Update: Apparently Emana is out for the next month with a cracked tibia and we won’t be seeing any of him during these Copa matches. Apologies for all of that. They’re also missing their left back, Chechu Dorado, which may turn out to be a bigger blow if they’re incapable of fielding someone  that can stop Pedro or Messi. Not that I think Dorado could do so, but losing a starter almost never helps stop a great team.

Now, I’ll probably never really forgive Betis for equalizing in 2006-07 through their late Rafael Sobis goal. Remember him? He was going to be the next big thing and then he burned out at Betis and is now, apparently, playing for Internacional. He’s only 25, but already I’ve filed him under the washed-up category. Hopefully he continues to play for a while longer, but it’s obvious that injuries have really wrecked his potential. Anyway, I’ll never forgive him because I’m a grudge-holding jackass that can’t let things like that go. Also, pay attention when they take quick free kicks! Aaargh.

Take a look at the bracket, if you’re interested. I’m not trying to get ahead of where we are or the need to play these matches as if they’re serious competitions (they are), but it’s worth nothing who else is left. The winner of this tie goes on to face the winner of Almeria-Deportivo, which is a much easier route than the winner of Atleti-RM going on to face the winner of Sevilla-Villarreal. This is the quarterfinals and it will never be easy to win the CdR, but we’ve got a serious chance of getting through. I’m not one to place the CdR above the League or the Champions League, but if we can win it, we might as well, right?

Quickly, our squad: As far as I can tell, no one is out for this one, which is nice. I don’t know whether all of the players who went to Zurich for the Ballon d’Or gala will start or if they’ll be too tired (I’m not sure how draining it is to get to Switzerland and back from Barcelona), but even a weakened Barça should be able to handle Betis.

Official Prediction: 2-0, goals by Messi and Pedro.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. I would love to see a 4-0 and Thiago starting the second leg. Betis will come out and attack, and hopefully we can convert our chances. Messi (3), and Ochocinco with the goals. 😀

    Match list been posted yet?

  2. Emana is no doubt a quality player (Or was, as I am not sure if he is still up there). It was shocking that Betis were able to keep him after relegating.

    I hope we see more thiagos and Afellays than Messis and Pedros in this match.

    1. I was shocked Betis managed to keep hold of him too. He fought hard to leave, but I don’t think teams put forth the type of money Betis were asking for.

  3. I’m pretty certain Emana is out for a month. I need to find the source, but I read it last week.

    1. Definitely want to see Afellay for 60-70 mins.

      Alves Pique Fontas Adriano
      Busi Mascherano
      Messi Pedro Afellay

    2. Fontas won’t be called up, he hasn’t trained with the first team since before the holidays.

  4. ah Betis…to many bad memories *sigh* I still remember that goal very vividly 🙁 I say 5-0 and Messi having a hat trick to shut marca and as(s) up…

  5. It’s at home, so Messi will play at least 30 minutes, that’s pretty much a given. Pep will feel he owes it to the fans, especially after winning the Balon d’Or.

    Alves Puyol Milito Maxwell
    Xavi Busquets Thiago
    Afellay Messi Iniesta

    I don’t think I’ve gotten Pep’s lineup right a single time so far, but this could be the one! 😛

  6. Oh, and who is this Ochocinco guy? I get that he is an NFL player, but why are they all making such a big deal out of him?

    1. He’s an NFL personality. He’s a fan favorite for his antics, he gets fined for ridiculous celebrations and wearing different colored chin straps.

      I like him, he’s funny. I used to hate him, but he’s toned his ego down a lot (probably because his team is garbage). He also went on a trip to Madrid last week. He’s actual friends with Cristiano. He legally changed his name from Chad Johnson, to Chad Ochocinco, and soon to Pepe Ochocinco. hes cool.

      “Paulo Henrique Ganso has hit out at #Santos over his wage packet, which he perceives to be too low for a player of his ability…”

      and we apparently have a right to first refusal with he and Neymar. I didn’t expect this from Ganso.

    2. Ganso should be payed as much as Neymar in my opinion. He’s quality. But he shouldn’t be doing that.

  7. I also think that this will be a tougher match than expected. Nonetheless we should win 2-0. Goals by Pedro and Villa. Assist by Messi and Dani Alves.

  8. Revista De La Liga – 01-11-11





    *http://www.fileserve.com/file/UzG4VHD/Revista De La Liga – 11-01-11.avi

    Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

  9. Irrelevant question but since you guys and gals are most in the US where -in my opinion- the best tv series are made do you have anything to suggest to start watching cause I’m out of ideas? I’ve seen and loved (six feet under, Rome, true blood, Dexter,Galactica)…
    It’s weird though how filmaking in the US has dropped so much (most scripts are horrid) while Tv has peaked…

    1. I don’t watch TV series. They’re all junk IMHO. That’s why I watch so much soccer. OK, I also watch a few other things like the cooking channel and some home decorating shows and as a family we like the geekier sci. fi./fantasy/harry potter type movies.

    2. I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about Mad Men (on AMC) and Boardwalk Empire (on HBO). I’ve been meaning to watch both, but the busy life of a student cuts into TV viewing times.

    3. I still think Arrested Development is one of the best TV shows in recent memory, but I’m in the minority as it only lasted 3 seasons.

    4. Doesn’t even come close to Seinfeld..

      I love Burn Notice too.. Jeffrey Donovan for James Bond!

    5. It is most definitely one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Unfortunately for it, it was airing on FOX (aka the home of good TV shows that suffer premature deaths).

      However, I do tend to think comedies are better over a shorter life-span, so maybe the 3 season deal wasn’t so bad (especially considering the fact that the third season was the weakest out of the three).

    6. My favorite show to watch is Mad Men. Of all time, I’d probably say The Wire.

      I also enjoyed Boardwalk Empire and to a lesser extent, The Walking Dead.

    7. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but The Office is hilarious (recent seasons kinda meh).

      What everyone else said is also good, Arrested Development, Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother, The Tudors (if you wanted Rome, you might also like this.), Entourage…You may or may not like Curb Your Enthusiasm.

      Then there are the classics like Seinfeld and That’s 70s Show.

      I was (still am actually) in a British Period Drama craze for a while. I’d recommend North and South if you haven’t seen it.

      –The Food Network is awesome like possums! Ace of Cakes, Iron Chef (the one with the Japanese guy), Guy Fieri… So awesome. It makes you kinda hungry though.

    8. It makes you kinda hungry though.

      The ‘No-sh*t’ Comment of the Day.

      Heh, I crack myself up sometimes. Other times, I shake my head at how many obvious things I say.

    9. I LOVED North and South but it was kinda hard to watch because I was used to seeing the guy who played Thornton as a villian in a different series.

    10. While I agree that movies have fallen off, I mean even the Coen Brothers did a remake — albeit I’ve read that it is not that much like the original and it definitely has all the typical Coen qualities. I disagree that TV has gotten better. Every network just rehashes their successful shows. FOX has a 1 1/2 hr block of essentially Family Guy. NBC did the same thing with The Office by making Parks & Recreation and Community.

      But most of the suggestions mentioned earlier, I have to agree with.

      To the person who mentioned AD. I agree it’s one of the best comedy series ever. I really hope they finally turn it into a movie, although I’m sure it will be disappointing.

      And if you play fantasy (american) football, you have to check out The League. Probably my current favorite show. Even my girlfriend likes it.

    11. I watch Friends and Buffy (which both finished earlier in the 2000s yes but are awesome shows) and from current shows I watch How I Met Your Mother.

    12. Serious: The Wire (best ever show); The Sopranos (right up there).
      Comedy: Modern Family, Arrested Development, Big Bang Theory.

    13. For my money The Wire is the best TV Show ever. The city of god miniseries is supposed to be good. I loved Arrested Development and current shows I like are Community, and Modern Family.

      I like Boardwalk Empire but haven’t watched the last couple episodes, Walking Dead was good too. Then the obvious, Seinfeld, old Simpsons episodes, but I always hated Family Guy. and for what its worth South Park is one of the best satires ever written.

    1. I think we’ll only have problems if we underestimate them and roll out too weak a lineup.
      my picks:
      Adriano, Milito (can he do rt. side of CB pairing?),Abi, Maxwell
      Xavi,Busi, Thiago
      Pedro, Messi, Jeffren
      Sub in Affelley for Xavi if all is under control at HT and pray that Jeffren can last more than 20 minutes w/out an injury.

    2. If Barça B can draw against Betis, we shall DESTROY them!

      Sike, just kidding. Like soccermom says, if we underestimate them, then they can cause us problems. Also, it depends on how they intend to play. I tend to think they’ll be a little defensive away from home, so an early goal is key.

      I think offensively they will really suffer without Emana and from what I’ve read about Dorado, he’ll be a huge miss on the defensive end.

    1. *rant warning*
      As it is probably wrong/improper for any Christian woman/wife/mom to say that she hates anyone, indulge me for one moment all of you just long enough for one brief rant: I INTENSELY dislike the abovementioned people and I wish we could live in a perfect football world where niether name was EVER mentioned.
      *end of rant*

    2. SoMom, SoMom, SoMom.

      You’re still far too nice. If that’s a rant, you obviously haven’t seen the rest of us rant 😀

  10. Sorry to kind of beat a dead horse but this is what it’s all about:


    For a moment, forget that you want Iniesta or Xavi to win and all the debate about who ‘deserved it’. Just savour the moment, Cules. All 3 freakin’ finalists for FIFA Ballon d’Or.


    1. …and the winner is…


      (“Please let us play, mister.”)*

      * The above quote was taken from one of Isaiah’s “scenes”. If you’re new here and haven’t read any of them, I suggest y’all look them up under the “nonsense” category for a good laugh.

  11. embedded in this page is video of Chad 85 getting his pic taken with barca players at practice. he is hanging with barca this week. apparently no es muy partidario


  12. Oooooooooohhhhhh! Kari likes British period drama, too. I thought I was the only one.
    @ Kari- try reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—irreverent but hysterical

    1. Yup! I got addicted pretty fast. I’ll check P&P&Z, which will be soon because I just Googled it and it’s set to be a film. Must read before it’s ruined by Hollywood 😛

      I’ve saving Little Dorrit for a time where I’m either a) depressed, or b) coming off an exam period. Usually the former is the subsequent of the latter, it’ll probably be option c) which is both 😀 My sister highly recommended it, so I’m pretty excited for that one.

      I’m also debating whether to watch Robin Hood with the guy who plays Thorton as Sir Guy, Cornfield, and…yeah. I’ve heard of the Spooks and Doctor Who, but I don’t know much about it.

    2. ee gads! Actually it sounds very interesting. I was a chemist in my pre-kids days and when the last one goes off to college, I’m gonna decide what I really want to be when I grow up!

    3. Marion is seriously annoying in the first 2 seasons of Robinhood. Seriously annoying. Did I mention that I found her annoying?

    1. *don’t let his obvious hate fool you.

      Let my one woman campaign to disgrace all English first language speakers continue…

    2. Haha I know that guy from before, he’s a regular commenter on Soccernet with the same account name UnknownGenius. My personal opinion is that he has got to be kind of a loser cos its like a whole Youtube account full of more than a hundred videos almost all about Ronaldo, uploading extremely regularly, for a long time now, I mean just the amount of time devoted to those- making, editing, uploading so regularly for so long- and all just against one person is a little worrying.

      That said the stuff he posts ARE true admittedly. I saw the one where he points out how Ronaldo with his free-kicks aims for the keepers side not covered by the wall so if the keeper makes a mistake or is positioning wrong it goes in, while a world-class free kick is meant to go over the wall to the side not being covered by the keeper by bending it that much. It made sense.

    1. And by the by, I have nothing against the dude. His overall message is great (that girls or guys are beautiful/handsome).

      It’s just.. I see the truth in the expression “talking a mile a minute”. Amazing.

    2. Actually. Now that I can honestly make out what he’s saying( I admittedly struggled to before), this is freakin’ HILARIOUS. LOL

      (The voice + face was so unexpected.)

    3. That obvious, huh? 😛

      No worries, I’m off to do something productive. I have to, unless I want to be hit by the BFB ‘go do something, you loser’ Moderation Hammer again, which I don’t. My friends find the weirdest videos, but I love ’em even more.

      But seriously, that guy is offically a bada**. All sass, all the time. And now I know what to tell heartbroken 14 year olds to boot. LEGEND.

    1. thanks for this. he sure has grown up substantially since the last youtube video i’ve seen of him.

    2. You’re welcome! That’s also what I thougt, he sure has talent. Reminds me of rightfooted Messi, but only taller..

  13. Guardiola was directly asked about the possibility of Afellay starting, and he said simply (and coyly) that he is available to play, just like everyone else.

    1. Thanks so much. This is very helpful and what I was trying to figure out. I was particularly interested in whether team issues and career issues were criteria for consideration. They appear to be.

      Based on these criteria for voting – I think Xavi had an even better case than I originally thought. If overall career and team honors are factors voters are to consider, then I think Xavi should have won.

    2. If you just count votes from the Journalists, then Xavi would have won, with Sneijder and Iniesta following. What put Messi way over the top were the national team coaches and captains. Goal.com makes an interesting argument that players and coaches don’t have the time to watch as many games as sports journos — but then one can also take the view that it’s the players/coaches who know the best. I don’t think most people used to above criteria to vote — they voted who they thought ‘was the best’.

    3. But its true, no-one can deny that at the moment, Lionel Messi IS the greatest footballer in the world.

      I know you cant compare forwards with midfielders with strikers etc, but its a well known fact.

      And the simple thing is, if you asked most people who the best forward player is at the moment, they would say Messi, not TB or (haha Mou) Milito. If you asked about the midfield, they would say Xavi or Iniesta, not Sneider.

      I would have loved to have seen Xavi get it for all he has done for the club, he has been my favourite player since Luis Enrique left, and continues to be, but Messi is simply the best.

      Visca Xaviniessi

    4. Really? I don’t know for sure (I don’t know what the most credible source would be), but I thought barcastuff at least said that if it was just the journalists that Sneijder would have won, with I think Xavi and Messi (not sure about the second two) following.

    5. Yeah when I saw the criteria I also thought ‘well, Xavi seems to be the strongest case from these criteria since they look at overall character, fair play, team honours, and most importantly performance in major competitions’ as well as talent and performance.

      Xavi seems to win on the overall career front, and the Spaniards won the most major competition.

      That said, I think that footballers and journalists would look at it differently. A footballer will probably look more at ability, cos when they see someone do something they, being footballers, will think ‘wow he can do that, I know how hard that would be’. While a journalist would look at impact.

      Say looking at judging who the best/greatest guitarist in the world would be, and you asked a guitarist for a small band, and a music journalist. A guitarist would hear a guitar solo and think ‘wow, that’s frickin impossible, how did he do that, wow I could never do something like that but I wish I could’. A journalist would be like ‘this guys solos broke new ground and started a revival of this particular genre as a popular style’. Like a guitarist is more likely to say, say, Steve Vai or Joe Satriani or someone when stating who an amazing guitarist is, while a journalist may be more likely to say Carlos Santana. (I’m not saying one way or the other, just that the way of thinking might lead to different factors taking precedence, from pure technical ability to impact, etc). Sorry for a poor example but you guys get what I mean right.

    6. The analogy effort is admirable, but flawed. Musicians appreciate a guy such as Steely Dan’s Walter Becker more than the flash-meisters such as Satriani or Vai. And if we’re trying to compare guitarists to players, Walter Becker is a Xavi type, for sure.

      If those are the posted criteria, then the Messi win makes even less sense, as I’ve been saying all along. Because it isn’t who the best player is. It’s who had the best year. And that was Xavi. The performance in major competitions parameter should have eliminated Messi from serious consideration for the final honor. It didn’t, but it should have.

    7. Yeah I know it wasn’t a good example in terms of how most guitarists would state someone like Jimmy Page as an influence rather than an all-flash person. What I was trying to say was how when you play football/guitar and have been training and practicing and the like for ages you realize ‘wow that solo would have been insanely hard’ or ‘doing those stuff are near impossible’ in a way that can make you awed of it, in a way that a journalist might not. As in a guitarist might consider Vai the ‘better’ guitarist as in more technically skilled, not that they would say Vai was a greater or more legendary guitarist overall. You know what I’m trying to say.

      Also for me yeah seeing the criteria it really shouldn’t have gone to Messi this year, the guy is a brilliant, as in unbelievably good player. Especially other footballers who train and play for decades would surely be even more awed at how good. But looking at the criteria Xavi deserved it more.

  14. btw, Leo is not going with Antonella Rocuzza (not that sure about her last name…) anymore, according to his grandfather.
    Some weeks ago, there were rumours that his holiday was prolonged because they might have married. Hope this breakup doesn’t affect him too much, they knew each other from childhood.

    1. Why Leoooooo???? They were supposed to get married and live happily ever after. Nice story, etc. That’s why he came back with that beard. Depression lol.

  15. Good post from Gabriele Marcotti in The Times on FIFA’s (lack of) organisation surrounding the Balon D’Or:

    Gabriele Marcotti

    After the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host nations were announced, Fifa came under tremendous amounts of scrutiny over their voting methods. There were calls for more transparency and reform. You’d think that in light of this, the game’s governing body would ensure that even something as innocuous as the vote for the FIFA Ballon d’Or would be rigorously monitored. Well, you’d be wrong. Consider the following three mysteries.

    1. The case of the invalid votes

    Seven “invalid votes” were cast in total, two by Mark Van Bommel, the Holland captain, one by his Dominica colleague Glenson Prince and one each by national team coaches John Buttigieg (Malta), Bert Van Marwijk (Holland), James Appiah (Ghana), and Ricardo La Volpe (Costa Rica). Now, there are only two ways you can cast an “invalid vote”: you can either vote for somebody who has not been nominated or, if you’re a coach or a captain, you can vote for your countrymen (which isn’t allowed).

    We have no idea who these gentlemen actually voted for, but, in the case of the Costa Rican, Ghanaian, Maltese and Dominican it’s safe to say they voted for someone who had not been nominated (since none of their countrymen were on the short-list). As for Van Marijk and Van Bommel (who happens to be his son in law), they may have voted for Arjen Robben and/or Wesley Sneijder or they could have opted for someone not on the list (like, say, Engelbert Humperdinck). Either way, it’s seems like common sense that if you can’t be bothered to read or observe the rules of an election, your entire ballot should be discounted. Or, better yet, since this a public vote, Fifa should have gone back to them, pointed out their error, and invited them to vote for somebody who was actually eligible.

    2. The suspicious popularity of Xabi Alonso

    The former Liverpool midfielder was named on 19 ballots. Only Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Carles Puyol, Wesley Sneijder, Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo received more first-place votes than he did. Sound a bit fishy? After all, the former Liverpool midfielder is an outstanding footballer, but… World Player of the Year?

    At least one voter – Gustavo Cabrera, the Guatemala captain – says he gave his third-place vote to Xavi yet, somehow, it was assigned to Xabi Alonso. Could there be more? Somebody should probably investigate. Not one of the 19 people who voted for Xabi Alonso also cast a vote for Xavi. NOT A SINGLE ONE.

    Sound fishy? Surely there’s enough of a basis there to suggest that maybe these guys made a mistake in voting, a bit like those black voters in Florida who – with the help of dodgy voting machines, back in 2000 – cast their ballots for Pat Buchanan, the far-right presidential candidate.

    Everybody is entitled to their opinion of course. But I’d love to know just why Mario Yepes, the Colombia captain, Cris Katongo, the Zambia captain, D. Chandrasiri, the Sri Lanka coach and Katambwe Wa Kazadi de Sikasso, a journalist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, all believe that Xabi Alonso is more worthy of the Ballon d’Or than any other player in the world. I’m willing to bet a steak dinner that they don’t actually believe that, but, rather, cast their vote erroneously.

    Why does it matter? Well, if even a portion of those 19 votes were erroneously attributed to Xabi Alonso when, in fact, they should have gone to Xavi then the latter would have finished as runner-up to Lionel Messi, ahead of his teammate Andres Iniesta.

    3. What happened to the “lost votes”?

    Fifa has 208 member nations. Each nation gets three votes – the captain, the national team coach and a prominent journalist – and each of those voters picks his (or her) top three. That’s a total of 624 ballots. Yet only 432 were actually cast. What happened to the other 192?

    Javier Mascherano, as Argentina captain, was entitled to vote but he claims he never received a ballot. Apparently, neither did the Argentina national team coach. What is staggering is that among the 70- odd nations whose national team captains or national team coaches did not vote are countries like Chile, Egypt, Norway, Qatar (bodes well for the World Cup, doesn’t it?), Ireland, South Africa (what, they can organise a World Cup, but they can’t figure out how to vote in a postal election?), Wales and the United Arab Emirates.

    These are important footballing countries. I know for a fact that email and fax machines exist in those nations because I’ve been to all of them.

    Some of those countries, of course, had coaching vacancies in that period (and, I guess, by extension, captaincy vacancies). But so too did many other nations who actually went out and voted. So what if your national team boss has resigned or you’ve sacked him… ring him up and get his vote. Or get the new guy to vote (which is what most nations did). But it doesn’t end there. According to Norwegian newspapers, both Egil Olsen, the national team coach, and Brede Hangeland, the captain, cast their ballots. They even contacted Fifa to make sure the ballots had been received. Yet somehow their votes were “lost”.

    And even if some ballots simply weren’t returned, would it have killed Fifa to at least make an effort to track down these voters? The Qatar FA, after all, spent plenty of time in and around Zurich over the past year. Did nobody think of turning to Mohammed bin Hammam, who also happens to be an Executive Committee member, and say “Yo, Mohammed, remember to make sure your guys vote in the FIFA Ballon d’Or…”

    Is this how seriously FIFA take their own Awards ceremony?

    Again, it does matter. I’ve known Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland coach, since I was 12 years old (which was a long time ago). I can guarantee you he has an opinion on who should be world player of the year. Unless the Football Association of Ireland were somehow boycotting the Ballon d’Or because of that Thierry Henry handball last year, it’s hard to explain why his vote wasn’t cast.

    Those 192 missing votes are worth 1536 voting points. Messi beat Iniesta by 178 points and Xavi by 218 points (161 points, if you assume that all those Xabi Alonso votes should have gone to Xavi). Maybe enough of the missing votes would have gone to Iniesta or Xavi.

    Maybe they would not have. Either way, we don’t know, because Fifa either “lost” them or simply never bothered to follow up. The issue here isn’t that Messi won the Ballon d’Or. He’s probably the best player in the world, he scored an outrageous 60 goals in 2010 for club and country, unless you believe that Champions’ League and World Cup performances should count more than the quotidian (as some do and as was the case in the old Ballon d’Or voting, before it came under the auspices of Fifa), then he’s a worthy winner. Rather it’s about a missed opportunity for Fifa to establish some credibility, to show that it knows how to run an election properly. And perhaps it’s also about the fact that Xavi might just have been screwed out of a Ballon d’Argent.

    1. Very interesting read. You would think FIFA could have set up some kind of secure online voting system that would eliminate “lost” or “spoiled” ballots. Ridiculous.

    2. Very interesting. I read the Xavi/Xabi Alonso thing and maybe they’re liverpool fans? 😀

      but they won’t look into this now and I wouldn’t. They should’ve did a more thorough search before the results, but to go and possibly change it now would be terrible.

      Oh, and how come all the voters ballots were revealed for this, but not for the WC bids? Weren’t they supposed to?

    3. OMgosh, I never thought about that. Xavi counld have been cheated out of this because his name is similar to Xabi’s. UGH!

      I don’t mind if Messi wins because fottballers valued him more highly than Xavi but if there were voting irregularities… Poor Xavi AND poor Leo (I don’t want an “*” by any of his awards)!

  16. Quote from a Betis defender

    “Our daily battle, the thing that allows us to feed ourselves, is the league”

    “This is a game to enjoy… not one to get carried away with for things that are not within our reach.”

    Sounds like they are giving up already..

    1. Well, from what I know of the Football Manager series, when I’m an underdog and I team talk that “the pressure is off” I usually steal a point or 3 😀

    1. Having already bought a Xavi home shirt and a red pre-match top, I think I have reached my limit for FCB merchandise for the year.

      Although tomorrow is my birthday. Maybe just a scarf….

    2. Happy Birthday! (I’ll say it tomorrow, too.) My birthday is only a few days after yours. I suggest you buy that scarf….

    3. Thanks and Happy (almost) Birthday to you too! We are in good company, several FCB players (and also Pep) have January birthdays. Victor Valdes’ birthday is Friday, and Keita turns 31 on Sunday. A goal against Malaga would be a nice present for him, no? 😀

    4. I’m also a January birthday (10th), and one of my youngest cousins shares the same birthday as me, another cousin is the 2nd, another is the 31st, my grandmother is the 30th, my sister is the 13th, an ex is the 15th as is another friend, and a few other friends are also January. My two closest cousins were December 22nd and 24th, and my best friend was December 25th. A very high concentration of birthdays in December to January for me. And it being a lot of Barca players (and Pep’s) birthdays in January makes it better.

  17. I’m surprised at how little talk there has been about Milito’s imminent departure. Sure he hasn’t played a lot this year, but his departure leaves us with three center backs (one of whom is our undisputed starter at left back), and Busquets. I feel confident in Pique, Puyol, and Abidal (as an aside, I was terribly worried about his ability to be effective as a center back at the beginning of the season, and I’m glad I was so wrong).

    Afellay was brought in to fill a hole in our squad depth, but it is a bit frustrating that we are opening up another hole in depth in the same transfer window.

    For this reason I’d really like to see either Bartra or Fontas start today, although I think I’m going to have to hold my breath and just hope one of them starts the second leg. If we are letting Milito go then it is time to bring up Fontas and allow him to practice with the first team a la Thiago. At worst if he doesn’t do well we will know we need to consider looking for a center back this summer, and at best he will be able to hold his own.

    1. The thing is because Milito has been out most of the season. Most of the last, and that we’ve been fine without him plus his wishes to leave I think makes Pep think we’re okay. Fontas has looked good when called up.

      We’ve been rumored at looking at impressive PSG youngster Mamadou Sakho too. If we did that I’d love to see him signed this summer rather than next, and learning a lot from Abidal while he’s still playing.

    1. He had the “For loan” sticker on his forehead for a while now. Especially after the last Man city shopping in Germany.

      For loan, that’s a good bargain for any team. And if RM snapped him, I have to tip the hat.

    2. Agreed, Ramzi. There’s a lot of hate for that dude wherever you go, but I think he will be a hell of a goalscorer in Spain. Those with long memories know that I was for the idea when his name was being associated with us. With EE, he could be very dangerous.

      As far as his attitude, he’s playing for his professional life right now. This is it. And with a big club, no less. I think attitude-wise, he’ll be fine wherever he goes. And I’m still not sure why he didn’t get more of a shot at Citeh. Instead they splashed for Dzeko? Interesting.

    3. If true and Citi is shopping Adebayor, then I am not sure why is our management sitting on their hands.

      Some time ago Txiki and Pep expressed an interest in this guy and were “negotiating”. It was my understanding the reason why nothing came out of it is because the price was too high.

      “Our” system hasn’t changed since and looking at the current form of Bojan (and Villa), an extra option would be nothing to sneer at.

      Adebayor is, in a lot of ways, similar to Zlatan. Tall, somewhat smaller work rate, great ball handling skills (not quite as good as Zlatan’s though), big ego and combustible character.

      But this time around, that package would come at a discount price and for limited time only minimizing the potential negative impact to the locker-room and club’s finances.

      It would also lower amount of pressure/expectations on the player allowing him to focus more on the game and how to be productive.

      Business wise:
      – With the departure of Milito, we would offload his salary and, in case of sale, get some cash. This would be more than enough to cover for the somewhat larger salary of Adebayor
      – The opportunity to play for a team still in contention for all 3 trophies is something that can be used to lower the salary demand
      – The Club can leverage the good relationship with Citi (Gamper Trophy and Yaya’s transfer) and their interest in Alves to broker the deal faster and at a cheaper rate.

      Few other details:
      – I imagine being surrounded by no less than 8 World Champions in the locker-room could be a humbling experience and a motivation to give your best
      – He has an experience playing in a system similar to ours
      – Adebayor gets the opportunity to “stick it” to Arsenal for the way he left the club. At a stage no smaller than Champions League knock-out round.
      – He would have someone to help him out integrate into the team in our players of African descent (Keita and Abidal)

    4. The most important aspect of this is Adebayor played for City in the Europa I believe. Under the rules isn’t he NOT cup tied? If he’s not, I’d love him on loan. If he is it’d be pointless, as he’d be on the bench for one main game vs. EE and overkill for the rest of the season..

      But I agree about him being near down and out. He has to prove himself a gain a la Robinho. Then next year Milan can pay over the ends for him 😛

    5. Adebayor is, in a lot of ways, similar to Zlatan. Tall, somewhat smaller work rate, great ball handling skills (not quite as good as Zlatan’s though), big ego and combustible character.

      So he works even less hard than Ibrahimovic, has not as good skills, and is even more likely to cause drama, and you think we should still go for it? Because it worked out so well last time? Not worth the money, IMO.

      And I have to say, just because he is of “African descent” doesn’t give him any particular commonality with Keita (from Mali) or Abidal (he’s French).

    6. @blitzen (since the reply option is not available below)

      Let me clarify that for you. It is virtually impossible for someone to create more drama than Ibrahimovic. The “somewhat smaller work rate” refers to the requirements for that specific position in our system. I can hardly see him contributing to pressing less than Zlatan.

      The skin color is not what I was aiming for. The language is. The people of Togo and Mali speak French. Not sure how much you have traveled yourself but it is a tremendous help if someone speaks the same language in the new environment you are entering.

      After cost/benefit analysis, I think it is worth the gamble. “We” stand to gain more than to lose.


      Not sure what the exact rules are but that might very well be the case. However, I fail to see how it is any different than Affelay’s situation since both PSV and Citi haven’t participated in the Champions League this year. In addition, both of them would not be very likely to start against madrid.

      In general, there are plenty of games for him to contribute. Doubt he would get less playing time than at Manchester City. For “us” it is an opporutnity to see how he settles in and pefrom in our system. If promising, “we” would have first option to sign him comes summer. It would also allow us to “experiment” with a new formations and use the valuable feedback.

      I imagine Pep has learned few things from what happened with Zlatan and is better equiped now to handle such a situation in future.

    7. When you say Ade is playing for his professional life, and therefore his attitude will be in check wherever he goes, you are assuming that he will act in a rational manner that best serves his interests.

      Unfortunately, he has a history of not acting rationally, and not acting in his own best interests in every big club he’s been at. The problem is primarily fights with his teammates, no matter how important it is to his career that he keep his attitude in check.

      I think this is a case of “A Tiger can’t change his stripes”

    8. I’m going to have to disagree, I don’t think his talents and what he would offer to the team, especially as a backup, would outweigh the baggage he would bring into the locker room.

    9. When you are on loan coming to a big club from the bottom of no where, you are the underdog of the dressing room. At the end of the day, the club can easily freeze him out if he makes a big mess.

      The club only pays (complete or partial) salary during Loan period. That’s a sound gamble. Six months give a close realistic look and afterward dont buy him if you didnt feel certain he can help on the long term.

      Mind you, Kanoute didn’t set the world alight in England, nor did Forlan. If Ade tune down his personality (Some note that he calmed down a lot after the National team incident during world cup), he is an undoubted quality. Will he? Lets hope not so he makes a big mess now that he will play elsewhere (and not anywhere!).

    10. I can understand it being a good acquisition for other clubs, but I don’t think it would be a good acquisition for Barcelona. If it makes any sense, I believe that if we were to bring Ade in we would be less likely to win trophies than if we didn’t.

    11. “I believe that if we were to bring Ade in we would be less likely to win trophies than if we didn’t.”

      I don’t agree a bit on that, but I wont mind your theory to be right if he joins that other club:)

    12. I would love if Kanoute came to Barca. He would defintly bring some qualities we need. And at 33 the man is still a top class striker.I think Sid Lowe commented somthing about him being the second highest goalscorer for their current club in La Liga, After Messi of course. Humble and queit too like Keita.

    13. I just don’t understand all this City buissness. They buy up so many strikers and then they just leave. Robinho, Tevez wanted to quit, now maybe Ade. Wth?

    14. I think it just depends on what a coach wants to do. Personally, I would loan Krkic and pick up the Adebayor option, but that’s just me. I think that if he has the luck to land at a big club, he is going to be a model citizen. His quality and talent can’t be disputed. He has, in the past, been held back by his attitude. As a long-term acquisition, he’d be a disaster. Security seems to make him stupid.

    15. In the past? He just had a big bust-up with Kolo Toure a week or two ago! Seems he still has planty of attitude to go on with.

    16. I go with Roz. I would love to have Kanoute as our Back up striker option. He has fantastic skills, is good in the air and seems a very good character, and I think he is from Mali, so he could have a connection with somebody in the dressing room immediatly.

    17. @Humphrey Bogart

      Kanute might be “too old”. I like Luis Fabiano a lot. Except for how often he gets injured.

      If after inspection our medical team is confident it can minimize this risk, I think it would be worth it.

      Skills, experience and work rate is there. He reminds me of Sonny Anderson 🙂

    18. Their first choice was Ronaldinho before he went to Milan. Then they wanted Kaka, but settled for Robinho. Basically its a case of we have all this money but no one will come. They got garbage one year players like Roque to come, and once better players became interested they bought them as well. They’re just buying the best they can, whenever they can.

  18. Hey y’all,
    Is there gonna be a liveblog today? I’ll be late for it anyway (mom duties)

    @ Lev—70% of the earth is covered by water; the rest is covered by ED REED! (Ravens/Steelers “morbo” is a bit more subdued than EE/Barca’s *throws virtual pig’s head at Lev’s computer screen*)

    1. Chicagoan here but I love the Steelers, second favorite. not to say I don’t like the Ravens D but c’mon. You should’ve lost both games this season to them, and Flacco gets destroyed by Pitt in the playoffs. I was in Pittsburgh for their win in the AFC Championship, and during the Superb Owl.

      Actually, the Superb Owl ended at 11. I turned 21 an hour later, and we were all going crazy in downtown Pittsburgh it was beautiful.

    2. Josep,
      Saturday’s game actually scares the crap out of me. The Ravens haven’t been up to suff this year. Remember Barca last year when we always had the inevitable 10 minutes of bad/scary? Well the Ravens have whole quarters (mainly the 4th) of bad/scary this year. Not really sure how we managed to end up in the 2nd round of the playoffs. BUT, I still bleed purple and must support my team *throws virtual cookie at Lev’s screen as she contemplates whether she is wearing her Ray Lewis or her Ray Rice jersey on Saturday* !!!!

    3. hey chicago. it’s seattle calling. da bears are about to get hunted down by da talons of dis big hawk!

      actually, i dont really care. wont even watch the game. i just like to trash talk. 🙂

  19. Players I would like to see start today:

    Afellay: time to let the dude do his thing. Set him out there at the get-go and hook him after 60 minutes. This is the perfect opportunity to bring him up to speed and fitness as quickly as possible. Also – training can tell you one thing, but I’m sure seeing him in a match for 60 minutes would give Pep a great idea on what instructions he needs to give Afellay tactically.

    Adriano: Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with his game against Getafe. I haven’t really been impressed with him at all. But he needs more reps, and a couple of low risk, low pressure games in a row can only be beneficial for him.

    Bojan: Please oh please have a good game!

    Thiago: It’s great that he gets to train with the first team all the time, but there is nothing like a match to keep you on top of your game.

    1. I would love to see Jeffren start. Doubt it will happen, though. Pep seems to have lost confidence in him.

    2. Agree on all four and thank you for the live blog
      However i dont like the cup competition, i hope guardiola fields more fringe players and B teamers as much as possible, how ever he might opt to field a strong team and get a good result (13 – 0) so he will rest everyone in the return leg

  20. From barcastuff:

    Mel (coach Betis): “If we can hurt them, that’ll be by playing our own game, which means we cannot go out there to defend.

    Yay! Looks like they will be coming out to play!

    1. I love it when they try to play football against us. That means we’re destined for some stat padding and they’re destined for a whooping. BUT and this is a BIG BUT I will have tons of respect for them for actually playing the game.

  21. Afellay played in UEFA Europa League this season. So as Adebayor. So I withdraw my hint that Ade would’ve been crucial for Barcelona this season as we will have to choose either him or Afellay for the CL squad this season. Regardless if he will be more useful in the CL than Afellay, the later is on a permanent contract and he is a long term investment, so it won’t be right to drag him aside for a temporary addition.

    Ade may help in the Liga, but It doesnt worth the effort as the club is doing well in Spain already, and can keep performing up there.

    1. yep. it’d be like real’s huntelaar-diarra situation. you’d think barca’d learn from that.

      you were talking about van basten as the ideal barca no.9 a little whiles back & huntelaar is his spitting image. i really wish we would’ve taken a second look at him in the ibra to milan deal. he was amazing @ajax(inferior league, whatever. shut up) & his time @real, for being used largely as a sub, wasn’t that bad, really. he had an impressive strike rate there for the minutes he was given. i think his lack of playing time @milan was largely due to a lack of confidence from being bounced around from club to club.

      as an option to bring off of the bench, i thought he’d be perfect.

    2. huntelaar is a quality poacher. But he is by no mean anywhere close to Van Basten-the most complete striker I ever witnessed.

      But I agree, he will be good for the bench.

    3. “the later is on a permanent contract and he is a long term investment, so it won’t be right to drag him aside for a temporary addition.”

      If he is a long-term investment, then he is not expected to perform right away. His impact should manifest down-the-line. As a “work-in-progress”, I doubt he’ll get any serious playing time this year in CL anyhow (barring injuries).

      “but It doesnt worth the effort as the club is doing well in Spain already, and can keep performing up there”

      Not to be a party pooper, but we had problems scoring against Bilbao and Levante most recently. Bojan doesn’t look like he will be getting out of his funk any time soon and Villa keeps missing opportunities.

      With the lead of 2 points and the game in madrid looming, “we” can use all the help we can get.

      This is not to say that Adebayor deal is a no-brainer. It is a gamble.

    1. We have a relative (male) who lives in Canada, He’s married to a Canadian. They’ve come here as a kind of Vacation, They visited the pyramids and some tourism sites.

      She brought us some Halloween candy. A skeleton puzzle and stuff like that 😀

      Don’t know why I’m saying this but I thought it would be fun.

    2. Where in Canada do they live? It’s a big country! 😀 I’m in Toronto.

      I’ve been to Egypt, and also Sudan, several times. The pyramids are amazing, but I loved Deir el-Bahri the most. I speak a very little Arabic, but I pronounce it the Sudanese way, so you would laugh. 🙂

    3. Oh, hey people, this Barca fan lives in Toronto as well. Pleasure to know that there are others in the land where I live with similar interest. Blitzen we have to watch a Barca game together. I will be proudly wearing my Barca Jearsey when we do!!!! Barca vs Arsenal????

    4. Oh, your basic verbs (give, take, eat, read, go, come, want, ect.), shopping list and around-the-house stuff, greetings, common expressions, farm animals. Also some very specific vocabulary having to do with archaeology and excavation. I could have a basic conversation with you if you aren’t too picky about grammar.

      Ah, I do love Montreal! I need to go there more often.

    5. No I’m not too picky, I’m willing to teach you more if you want or anytime you’re coming to Egypt.

    6. My old best friend from when I lived in Malaysia goes to University of Toronto now, its her first year. Yeah just saying that too.

    1. Blitzen and Jnice are required to acquire intestinal issues in the next few days and be joyful about it???????

  22. guardiola is going berserk on betis.
    First team material all out , gotta finish this cup round by halftime.

    1. Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa

      Bench Valdes, Milito, Abidal, Mascherano, Keita, Afellay, Jeffren

      via Barcastuff.

      Strong ass lineup. Hope we dead the match early. And Thiago isn’t on the bench. ARGHHHHHH.

    2. Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa #fcblive

      Pep @ barcastuff, who else?

    3. nevermind just saw it!
      I thought he would start most of the regulars…but i’m shocked with the fact that bojan, thiago and andriano are not even on the bench!

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