La Remontada That Won’t Be: Betis-Barça

CdR Preview: Real Betis – FC Barcelona, Wednesday, 4pmEST, ESPN Deportes,

I’ve been gone. You’ve missed me; you sat by the window, watching the driveway and waiting. I’m back now and you can stop thinking those terrible thoughts you had going through your head: Betis will not beat us 6-0 tomorrow. And you’ll have your preview, right here, right now, starting with some celebratory fun:

Happy Birthday, Pep Guardiola. Yay for turning 40, you’re now as old as my liver. He’s done a few things for the club, or so they tell me. It’s a joy to have him as our manager and a joy to watch his teams play. As much as I liked Rijkaard before him (and I liked Rijkaard quite a bit), this team is insane, beautiful, and irrepressibly fun. Here’s to more years with Guardiola in charge.

A 5-0 lead on Real Betis feels insurmountable, but it’s not. Not if we go out and forget to play, forget to put in the effort. Guardiola won’t let that happen, even if the kiddies are out there: “It is not a game for relaxation or discharging anything. It is a fully-charged game in which we have to compete hard and play to win.” And as such, the only B teamer going on the trip is Marc Bartra. Thiago moves back down to the B squad now that he has the promise of a first team spot next season, as odd as that is. Here’s hoping he gets the #4 jersey…

The squad lineup is: Valdés, Pinto, Adriano, Milito, Piqué, Bartra, Maxwell, Abidal, Mascherano, Keita, Sergio, Iniesta, Xavi, Afellay, Jeffren, Bojan, Messi, Villa, Pedro.

So no Dani Alves or Puyol thanks to injuries, but everyone else is healthy. I expected the back line to include both Bartra and Milito, the former because we’re up 5-0 and the latter because he decided to stay with us instead of joining Maulaga. Hooray for that second part because I like Gabi, though oddly my Boo Weligton self wonders if Milito wouldn’t have kept that marauding [Censored. Wow, are those even verbs? I’m terrified that they might be -ed] from getting any more starts. That’d be a service rendered to barcelonismo (and a tax deductible humanitarian effort) even after he left the colors behind.

So I think I’d like to see this: Pinto, Adriano, Bartra, Milito, Maxwell, Mascherano, Keita, Afellay, Bojan, Jeffren, Pedro.

Obviously this is a crazy lineup, with a midfield containing no real “Barça midfielders”, so Guardiola might opt for something more “traditional” with Xavi, Iniesta, or Busi in place of Afellay. The thing is, though, that at 5-0, I’d like to see what the kid can do, possession-wise, and this is the perfect opportunity. Let the guy get a start and see if he can combine well with the kiddies up front. We know Jeffren and Pedro will be pedal-to-the-metal all night (or at least until Jeffren has to go off injured), so that gives Afellay lots of room to operate. Let the boy play, okay? It’s actually that I haven’t seen much of him and I might as well get to. Come on.

As for Betis: sorry, guys, you’re kinda screwed. Frown face.

Quickly, a look at the record we set:

  • 52 points out of a possible 57 in the first half of the league. Holy smokes! I mean, seriously, 52 points?
  • 61 goals for, 11 against. Last year, the team allowed just 24 all season and are on pace to allow even fewer (22) while the offensive side has gone through the roof–and we thought it was through the roof last year when they ended with 98 goals. Can the squad really get 122 goals? I doubt it, but if they get close, wow.

Much more throughout the week as we prepare for the weekend match (vs Racing, 2pm EST) and I go over some stats from the first half of the season and some recent transfers throughout the league.

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Written by:

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


  1. Vj
    January 18, 2011

    All story and no title eh Isaiah? Befits us.. We’re going like a house on fire and need to continue to do so, as we HAVE NO TITLES yet! (Super Copa doesn’t cut it for me)..

  2. momo
    January 18, 2011

    Tsk Tsk tsk….. No prediction yet again Isaiah
    Here’s mine:

    Pedro 15
    Pedro 19
    affelay 49

    • momo
      January 18, 2011

      Busquets will be deployed along side Masch to protect Ibi’s noobness and to test out Busi in an advanced role.

  3. Kari
    January 18, 2011

    In other news, Sevilla will be facing please don’t be Pathetico and score 2 goals and a clean shee–oh who am I kidding it’s impossible EE in the next round. With the recent Navas-induced resurgence, they can cause them problems. Hopefully Palop will have the game of his life against them.

  4. Jim
    January 18, 2011

    This will be an interesting team selection. Any of us would probably put in quite a few of the squad players. However, Pep has always tended to play more regulars than we expect. I think its a respect thing for the opposition.

    I’d expect Pique and Milito at the back with either but not both of Xavi and Iniesta in the middle where Masch will get the nod as DM. I’d also like to see Bojan getting the full game up front. Not sure that Ibi won’t start on the bench.

  5. soccermomof4
    January 18, 2011

    I’m reading…and I get to:

    “We know Jeffren and Pedro will be pedal-to-the-….”

    and I’m thinking to myself:

    ofcourse, until Jeffren gets hurt…

    and then I read:

    “(or at least until Jeffren has to go off injured)”

    It would be funny in a scary way to have been on that same wavelegnth with Isaiah if there weren’t such a precident for it.
    That boyneeds luck or prayers or both.

  6. soccermomof4
    January 18, 2011

    My prediction
    Adriano, Bartra, Milito, Maxwell
    Iniesta, Mascherano, Kieta
    Jeffren, Messi, Bojan

    Affellay subbed for Bojan in the 60′ (Masch and Max will be there for the English). Let’s face it, we all know the drill by now–Messi likes to play, Pep likes to keep Messi happy, a happy Messi is a productive Messi, so Messi will play.

    2-3 Messi, Iniesta, Cuddly

    • ooga aga
      January 19, 2011

      i agree that probably both messi and iniesta will start, iniesta for sure. but other than that, yes, it will be a lineup “poco habituo”

  7. Jnice
    January 18, 2011

    Revista De La Liga – 01-18-11




    * De La Liga – 18-01-11.avi



    Credit to Pakman at (currently open for registration)

    • vicsoc
      January 18, 2011

      Muchas Gracias. I’ve been waiting for this.

    • Nav
      January 19, 2011

      In case you think your contribution goes unnoticed — thanks for this 🙂

  8. Kari
    January 18, 2011

    Sigh. Sometimes, I feel sorry for our players. No wonder Messi deleted his twitter and Bojan doesn’t have one. Fan girls are freakin’ scary and give female football fans a bad name >:( Props to Pique and Fabregas (among others) who put up with this stuff.

    It was worth watching to the end, though, to see the girl get owned by the old lady. “Callate, nina!” 😀 (translation: “Shut up, (little) girl!) My words exactly.

    • tutomate
      January 18, 2011

      That is so funny.
      Anota anota por favor-
      Please, please score,
      Porque, !Lo amo! lo amo!-
      because i love him I love him
      Callate Nina!
      Shut up Little girl
      Tour the best Kari.

    • complotGP
      January 19, 2011

      Whoa, Messi actually had a Twitter? :O

    • Kari
      January 18, 2011

      Just sharing the hilarity, tutomate 😉

    • January 18, 2011

      1) My favorite part is Laporta’s smirk at 9:18.

      2) Why wasn’t there one of these for the MANIIIIITAAAA?

    • Eklavya
      January 19, 2011

      Messi had a so much better haircut then!

  9. blitzen
    January 18, 2011

    and I go over some stats from the first half of the season

    HA! I was just thinking this morning, “Where is Isaiah’s obligatory half-season stats post? I demand stats!”

    I mean, it’s not like you’ve anything else of importance happening in your life, right, Isaiah? 🙂

  10. Kari
    January 18, 2011

    APM by the way is THE BEST! It’s from TV3 (same channel that shows Crackovia) so you know it’s hilarious. I love the EE ones the most.

    Here’s one from the 2-6 win. The first half of the video shows the boastful pre-match predictions from the EE press (with snippets of a person laughing after some particularly outlandish ones) and then the rest of the video is the reaction.

    Messi gets assaulted (more like strangled) by an insane fan at the Madrid airport (1:17).

    • vicsoc
      January 18, 2011

      My favorite part is when the weatherman is doing his shown and points to the weather in Madrid: 26.

    • Louis
      January 18, 2011

      Finally part 2 is up. I guess there is a part 3 now, as well. I like the changing editor’s notes too.

      The original editor’s note said part 2 of 2 would be up (last) Thursday.

      Now it’s changed to part 2 of 3 and would be up (last) Friday.

      I know for a fact it wasn’t even up on Saturday. Been waiting for the rest of the article series since I read the 1st part early last week.

      • vicsoc
        January 18, 2011

        I think all three parts are up, no? Go to more articles and I think the top three articles are the three parts of this editorial. I could be wrong though.

    • January 19, 2011

      Well I must say that I agree with most of his points and I do long for a more competitive la liga.This whole thing “we must win every week” has got me tired, so I imagine how the players and coaches must feel.
      However i think that the EPL is partly to blame for that ’cause they offer spain based players HUGE salaries for them to join. Even if the tv revenue was more fair, there is no way La liga teams could ever match with premier league teams on salaries.From what I see we(Barca) can’t match them either!
      Additionaly many La liga teams are not so well in handling money either for example Valencia spend huge amounts of money 5-6 seasons ago while at the same time they were building their statdium!
      Atletico pretty much the same story…but without the stadium part! For me the only reason they struggle has do more with their mentality and programming than tv revenue.
      Sevilla, well the past 5 season they got like 100 mil euros from players sales and they havent reinforced as they should.
      Villareal is the shining star in all these chaos and perhaps Atletic and espanyol as well.
      Our Barca is extremely lucky to enjoy such great generation of players and we would most probabply be playing like this with much less Tv revenue…I meen we won the most expensive football team of all time 5 times in a row!
      EE on the other has spend way beyond her tv revenue in order to be able to compete with us so even if they got less money that wouldn’t really change the quality of their squad…
      For me this has to be regulated by someone like Uefa and thats why I think this whole-NO DEBT-attempt by Platini is such a good idea, or at least a GREAT start. And i think if the legislation for at least half of your squad being home grown FINALY pulls through football will have made a huge step towards its more “romantic” era…

      • outerspacedout
        January 19, 2011

        Dunno, wouldn’t the no-debt rule by Platini be a stronger incentive for Real and Barca to NOT share TV revenues? They already have massive expenses compared to the other clubs which is paid off by their much larger revenues. If being beyond a certain amount of debt would bar them from participating in European competition they’d be even further against giving away a chunk of their income than they would have been otherwise, wouldn’t they?

        I think the Spanish FA should be the ones regulating this stuff, but they’re so disorganized they can’t even fix the dates in advance so I doubt their capability to do those. I would love to see what the likes of Villareal or Valencia could do with money the likes of Spurs and other EPL clubs have gotten in recent years. Spurs, Liverpool, even Arsenal I think would spend far more than the likes of Villareal who simply cannot compete in a bidding war scenario with other big clubs in Europe- even middling EPL clubs like Aston Villa, Sunderland or Birmingham seem to have the money to afford the occasional expensive signing- and thus would lose out on the calibre of top players they would be able to attract but can’t afford. Like Luis Suarez (I really hope he doesn’t go to Liverpool btw), Eden Hazard, and so on. If Villareal or Valencia could afford such players they would have the drawing power to. It’s an awful pity that we have to see them compete with so little money.

        Ah, if only one day the RFEF would become a bit more organized- negotiate a better TV deal, market the league better as a product especially to North America and Asia, fix the matchday timings beforehand, and so on.

      • outerspacedout
        January 19, 2011

        To be fair though even with the noticeable lack of huge-money signings by clubs like Villareal- I mean their record signing was Nilmar for I think 10-15mil- there is a huge smattering of ‘genius’ players as in ones that would make almost any top club including the EPL biggies, even outside the big two compared.

        Look at Atletico with (only a few examples from each club) Forlan, Aguero, Valencia with Mata, Banega (I rate him very highly) and until last season Silva and Villa, Villareal with Rossi, Nilmar, Cazorla, Almeria with Piatti, Sevilla with Navas, Kanoute, Fabiano, Bilbao with Llorente and Martinez, Prieto from Sociedad, the strike duo from Hercules, and so on.

        The question though is, if the likes of Villareal could spend sums like even EPL clubs in much lower positions- for example, Sunderland spent over 13mil for Gyan and Aston Villa bought Bent for what could be up to 24mil- they could be augmenting their team, which has some fantastic players but suffers from the lack of the little extra ‘edge’ that individual brilliance over the pitch gives the likes of Real and Barca, and suffers over the course of the season from thinner squads. The extra money would allow them to occasionally make a big signing + to build a deeper squad + more capability to not have to sell their bigger names.

  11. barca96
    January 18, 2011

    I wished Tom_Johnson would re-post his post from the previous post.
    It was a good one but I think this post was already up.

    • Tom_Johnson
      January 19, 2011

      Nah, then I would risk of being accused of showboating which would make people not pay real attention to what the post was intended to say.

      But if another poster/moderator is to paste it and reopen the discussion…

  12. Extreme barca fan
    January 19, 2011

    Adriano is almost guaranteed to start so i think bartra will be his sub, milito and pique will get the CD positions, as for midfield i think one of xaviniesta will play.
    Betis will come out firing, or at least they will try, so on paper we should be expecting an open game, the kind we usually win, so if we score us 2 early goals we will kill this match but if they score early we will have our hands full.

  13. y2k156
    January 19, 2011

    I think Pep will play with a strong team. As business end approaches, he tends to experiment less and less. Which has brought us results so i have no problems with it.

    As for Liga’s competitiveness, though redistribution of TV money is useful i do not think it is only solution. Also i think that over period, things will get evened out. What is necessary is for teams to play well. I refuse to believe that there are only 50 outstanding players and the rest are miles below. Teams like Blackpool and Mallorca refute this claim. Though there are few individuals who are simply class above, this number is surprisingly small. If teams take positive approach and have stable management, they can challange anyone on given day. That’s why I like teams like Betis. We might be good but if teams come out to play us week in and week out, I do think we will find it even more difficult.

    As for TV money, i think that ship has sailed for most of team in La Liga. They should already start thinking about next wave i.e. Internet broadcasting. They own the rights so they can easily pool up with company like Google to broadcast their matches online and with Internet getting faster all over the world, thats where money is. Of course, to make people pay money to watch you, you need to stand out in crowd. And standing out happens if you have certain philosophy and you present attractive product. I would not mind playing a dollar to watch Blackpool play but would not pay money to watch Man U play currently. Maybe this market is too nascent but for teams who can never expect to get equal TV money, they will have to be daring.

    I was thinking about it the other day. If Barca were to start their own broadcasting and have all the live matches and archieve matches in one place. If any one could watch it and if they charge around 5 dollars a month or 50 dollars a year. I am pretty sure that they will attract million or two users from around the world. I would. And i want to. So maybe if someone from barca reads this, please do this.

      • January 19, 2011

        My view on the matter will just get me branded as an arrogant git, but whatever.

        Players of a certain level don’t WANT to play for Villarreal, or Bilbao, even if they had the money. Players want big-market exposure, which leads to the kinds of endorsement deals that feather a nest for years to come. That kind of exposure just doesn’t come in Bilbao.

        Can Liga teams be MORE competitive? Yes, but that’s true in any league. But better scouting is the answer. I don’t think that Atletico will ever be able to persuade a player of Mascherano’s quality, for example, to come and sit on the bench for them.

        TV revenue sharing will help matters, but that isn’t the only answer. There is just no answer to the exposure and history of the big two clubs.

        And for all of the scoffing by Premiership fans, look at the recent transactions, where Spurs snapped up Pienaar fron Everton, just because. Again, Everton has no answer for the big clubs, and Spurs has become a big club by virtue of checkbook and ambition. So just swap names, EE and Bilbao, and it’s the same story.

  14. outerspacedout
    January 19, 2011

    Beckenbauer says that he is honored that Pique is referred to as Piquenbauer recalling him, and that he has the shirt Pique sent him in his office. Also said that he has the potential to be one of the greats of the game and that he would not have been undeserving of a spot as a finalist in the Ballon d’Or for his contribution to the Spanish WC win.

    Then again on the poll of the site 52% believe that Atletico can eliminate Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey… that’s not gonna happen (would love it if it did but still sincerely doubt it).

  15. January 19, 2011

    In the good news category, the club and Busquets’ agent have agreed on his renewal, to 2016. Busquets wants a couple of days to have time to read it all over, as he’s um, busy right now. Should all be final and announced by Monday.

    The club is also meeting with Alves’ agent, in the hopes of getting him in the “done” column, as well.

    Great discussion on the Sid Lowe stuff.

  16. OSBAG
    January 19, 2011

    A comment on messi’s ‘i would rather retirethan join madrid’ read ‘he is still a child’
    no comments on that. I actually dislike commenters, they talk as though they were baseball fans who accdentally found themselves on a soccer blog

    • outerspacedout
      January 19, 2011

      Like five people, from Nigeria to the US, had said ‘he is still a child’ in response to it.

        • outerspacedout
          January 19, 2011

          Yeah I just mentioned that it wasn’t one comment that said so, but a lot of people, from a Nigerian to an American and so on.

    • blitzen
      January 19, 2011

      Fabregas has already tweeted that there is nothing in it. He above anyone knows what it is like to be misquoted!

  17. soccermomof4
    January 19, 2011

    Hey, y’all.

    For anyone who had plans to see US v. Argentina, you can order the tickets today instead of waiting for Friday if you’ve “liked” or “friended” or whatever you do on Facebook to the US National team FB site (they give you a code on your FB home).

  18. January 19, 2011

    In the “are you freakin’ KIDDING ME!” file:

    By Iain Rogers

    MADRID, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Real Madrid issued a sharply worded statement criticising Spain’s soccer federation (RFEF) on Wednesday for what the club called a lack of respect and objectivity over an article mentioning coach Jose Mourinho.

    The club were responding to a piece on the RFEF website saying Real’s game at Atletico on Thursday would be “under the close scrutiny of Mourinho, who feels he has been mistreated by officials in recent league matches”.

    Real used an official statement to express indignation at the wording, which was not present in the latest version of the article on Wednesday.

    “We consider it enormously serious that these remarks about our coach were made on the Federation’s own website,” Real said.

    “They clearly demonstrate a prejudice that is a long way from the objectivity, neutrality and balance which should inform the organisation’s official publications.

    “We demand action is taken for what we believe is a lack of respect and consideration to the coach of our team, the club itself and the fans.”

    • blitzen
      January 19, 2011

      I thought I read that they had changed the ref for the game because Mourinho had objected to the original one? Can anyone confirm that?

    • Josep
      January 19, 2011

      I don’t get it. he’s extremely critical of referees and wonders why he doesn’t (THOUGH HE ALWAYS DOES) get calls?

      I mean, if I was an extremely offensive and racist white politician, would I complain if black leaders didn’t like me? Extreme example, but you get the point.

      Like I said it’d be great to see him come out once and say “oh the refs got it right” or “I was lucky to get that call” oh I don’t know, regarding two of his luckiest games ever? Scholes goal. Or maybe Milito’s offsides goal. Or Bojan’s disallowed goal? I mean he’s needed a lot to go his way to win the two champions leagues he’s won.

  19. Josep
    January 19, 2011

    Apparent contracts ending in 6 months Barca should consider: Emanuelson, Mexes, OLEGUER, Clement Grenier, and Taye Taiwo.

    • blitzen
      January 19, 2011

      Oleuguer? Really? REALLY??

      I mean, I love the guy and all, but….

    • Josep
      January 19, 2011

      Oh, Ivan Rakitic would be worth a look but alas his position doesn’t help his consideration much like Grenier.

    • outerspacedout
      January 19, 2011

      Mexes would be good imo. Milito will leave soon and Fontas will be playing a bigger role than he did this season most likely, next season, but we will need an experienced centre-backk backup won’t we? The team is strongest with Abidal at left-back, and right now Milito can step in. When he leaves there should be that third centre-back (or fourth, if Abidal will play in the centre, either way point being centre defense depth).

      Mexes is 28, he’s had some shockers recently but I remember not so long ago he was very good. He would be good cover in terms of defensive depth for free.

      • outerspacedout
        January 19, 2011

        Then again come to think of it, Arsenal should probably go for Mexes lol

        • Josep
          January 19, 2011

          any team should hes good defender, good on the ball. bad haircut, but we have Villa too.

          I haven’t seen much of him but when I do he plays well. I’m surprised his contract is expiring, wasn’t he part of a big tapping up case with.. Auxerre?? Taiwo/Emanuelson isn’t a bad option either if they can come over for cheap. I’d prefer Emanuelson as he’s dutch and can roam all over the left and sometimes plays the wing. Taiwo the more solid defender of the two. I heard somewhere that we’re rumored to look at a CB this summer, and that Mexes is actually on the list so we’ll see what happens. it’d be good to have him while Abidal is still here.

  20. stowe
    January 19, 2011

    hope we see Masch with Busquets and Ibi

    • blitzen
      January 19, 2011

      Bearing in mind that this is from and AS…even so, this is exactly what I said the other day. He knows he won’t win anything this year but he will save face by blaming the problems with management. I will lay down money right now that Mourinho will be coaching Man City next year.

  21. Lev
    January 19, 2011

    I would love for Oleguer to come back to Barça, but it’s Barça B in which he would be playing.

    On the topic of parity – we should listen to Cruijff and only allow 5 foreigners per line-up. (Or even better, 3, like in the good ol’ days).

    Not only does this benefit parity throughout the whole of Europe by stopping the bleeding out of smaller leagues, it would also benefit La Liga.

    If there is a limit to the amount of foreign players a team can attract, that talent will be spread more evenly through-out the big leagues. The biggest players will still go the to the bigger teams, but the EE’s, Manchesters and Chelseas of the world will no longer have the monopoly on buying 2 squads of the world’s top players / prospects.

    • Kari
      January 19, 2011

      Well, the only “foreigners” (aka non-Spanish) are Afellay, Keita, Abidal, Mascherano, Maxwell, maybe Milito…and that’s about it. You get Spanish citizenship after 5 years in the country (if I’m not mistaken), so Alves and Adriano have the passport, but I’m not positive on that.

      Of our starting XI, only Abidal is a foreigner. If we put them all together in an example lineup:


      That’s all six. We could possibly see this lineup sometime in the future, but who knows–Afellay doesn’t start games until it’s won/meaningless.

      • Lev
        January 19, 2011

        Right. I didn’t mean “we” as in Barça, but we as in every team in Europe.

  22. Kari
    January 19, 2011

    By the way, I can run the LB if no-one else has the time (fore warning: I’ll be half-studying, half-watching the game).

    • soccermomof4
      January 19, 2011

      Study hard now so you can enjoy the game later.

      I won’t be participating because we use my laptop to run the ESPN3 games through to the TV, but I’ll try to say hey at HT.

    • Vj
      January 19, 2011

      Looks like I’ve got company.. Whats the deal with studies these days? Why are they encroaching on my Barca time?

      • blitzen
        January 19, 2011

        Well you could be a work drone like me, unable to ever watch midweek games live and reduced to monitoring the liveblog surreptitiously while pretending to look busy!

        • Vj
          January 19, 2011

          Can’t even do that, gotta wake up in a couple of hours 🙁

  23. Tom_Johnson
    January 19, 2011

    From-the-hip (on the topic of La Liga’s competitiveness):

    – EPL’s and Bundes’ domestic market is more potent in terms of purchasing power (GDP and the level of unemployment)

    – There is not an “establishment” type of club (ex. madrid) commanding the huge fan base or what is effectively a duopoly on winning the Title

    – As for foreign markets, EPL has the advantage of English being an official language of the World. It is easier for fans to relate to the product if it’s being presented in English rather than Spanish. North American market by default is going to go to EPL. Just the mentality of people in the US should guarantee that they will lean towards EPL rather than La Liga (alleged toughess level and diving tendencies)

    – Management of Spanish federation needs to take the cue from what English are doing. The EPL is, by a margin, the most over-hyped product in the market right now. I can’t remember when was the last time such a mediocre product received so much praise.

    – So the key for La Liga’s increased revenue is in International expansion and, less so, in recovering Spanish economy. Then there will be more money to trickle down to the smaller participants. That in itself is not going to be enough. The smaller clubs have to take the initiative and improve the cost management. Villareal would be a good example to follow.

    • Lev
      January 19, 2011

      “As for foreign markets, EPL has the advantage of English being an official language of the World. It is easier for fans to relate to the product if it’s being presented in English rather than Spanish.”

      this is the big one, right there. That is why in South America La Liga will always be more popular – a league which the television stations here (well, at least in Venezuela) brand as “the best in the world”.

      EPL rules in North America, Africa and Asia where people will speak English either as their first or second language.

      • Lev
        January 19, 2011

        *or for some Africans 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th language, but still above Spanish

      • blitzen
        January 19, 2011

        There is a huge Spanish-speaking population in the United States, and a huge percentage of those are football fans. Currently they tend to follow Mexican and South American leagues. La Liga should be aggressively marketing to those people, if they aren’t already.

        • Josep
          January 19, 2011

          Agreed. I’d say about 75% of the fanbase in America speaks Spanish. its far more prominent thats why the Rafa Marquez to the MLS deal was HUUUUUGGGEEE for the league in the fact that he’s Mexican. it was a big name player to identify with

        • Tom_Johnson
          January 19, 2011

          “There is a huge Spanish-speaking population in the United States”

          That is true. Yet two things to consider are:

          a. Hispanics are a minority

          b. ‘Soccer’ is a niche sport in US

          So these two numbers should offset each other to a large degree. However, the key is, once again, purchasing power.

          More affluent fans are leaning heavily towards EPL. The main reason for it is that they are white and have English as a first language. In addition, the mind set of the US society shaped by the message from media is to put a premium on “toughness” and shy away from what they perceive as ‘diving’.

          Those same people are not very knowledgeable about the game nor are they creative. Hence, they are more likely to appreciate the no-nonsense physical approach then to try to understand what a team like Barca is doing.

          ESPN and the likes are simply vying for the dollars. They are selling the product (EPL) that affluent customers have interest in.

          • blitzen
            January 19, 2011

            Yes, “Hispanics” are a minority–a minority that makes up about 15% of the US population, which makes something like 50 million people and more than the entire population of Spain itself. That is not a market to ignore, especially when you already know going in that this is a population predisposed towards soccer. If soccer is a niche sport, this is certainly the niche to be marketing it to!

            Some Liga games are already available on ESPN Deportes and GolTV, but the time difference and the inconsistency of the scheduling make it difficult for even the most avid fan to find the games. Part of that problem is down to the Spanish FA not committing to a firm schedule at the beginning of the season, of course. La Liga can never be big in the US unless they cater to the TV interests, and I don’t see that happening soon.

      • Ryan
        January 19, 2011

        I think the actual timing of the games has a huge effect on why the EPL is watched more than la Liga in Asia. At least from my experience Japan, where live EPL games are shown at night, whereas Spanish games are on at 3am. The language hardly makes any difference, as they have dedicated Japanese commentators who replace the original ones.

  24. Helge
    January 19, 2011

    UEFA team of the year 2010 (voted by the fans):
    Maicon-Puyol-Piqué-A. Cole

    6 from Barca, 6 from Spain’s NT.

    Messi received the most votes of all (76% of all voters voted for him=, he had 40% more votes than CR. Xavi received the 2nd-most votes. Puyol is Captain, I dunno exactly why, but it’s a great choice!

  25. soccermomof4
    January 19, 2011

    Ashley Cole is a big surprise to me. He’s good but Evra’s a better LB (IMVHO).
    Puyi over Casillas for captain, love it!

  26. Lev
    January 19, 2011

    Makes sense to have Puyol as captain.

    sup soccermomo those Ravens tasted pretty good last Saturday! (then again, they always taste good this time of the year :p )

    • soccermomof4
      January 19, 2011

      Now, Lev, I’ve already congratulated you and ate a full serving of crow (ofcourse niether of our teams had a great showing but your team had the good sense to be dysfunctional in the first half while mine chose to be so in the second). So now your guys need to get their act together and win so our division looks good!

      • Lev
        January 19, 2011

        you did? sorry, i missed that. really happy to avoid the Pats with whom we match up horribly but our offensive line (i should say dotted line) is terrible with all the injuries and all and Troy is playing hurt, so I am nervous about the Jets…

  27. Eklavya
    January 19, 2011

    What the hell is Cole doing there? What about Zannetti? Abidal?

    • Vj
      January 19, 2011

      I’d have Zanetti in my team, and he should’ve gotten the neutrals’ nod for captain.. If there’s one guy from Inter who really deserved to lift the CL, it was him..

  28. Jnice
    January 19, 2011

    Pretty strong lineup put out by Pep

    Pinto, Adriano,Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Xavi, Mascherano, Keita, Afellay, Messi, Bojan.

    Bench: Valdes, Bartra, Abidal, Busquets, Iniesta, Villa, Jeffren.

    • Extreme barca fan
      January 19, 2011

      I said so, i knew bartra is here as a sub, i also knew one of xaviniesta will start, also good to see afellay starting as a winger
      Gooooooooooooooo barca

  29. blitzen
    January 19, 2011

    Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Adriano Pique Milito Maxwell – Xavi Mascherano Keita – Afellay Messi Bojan

    Barcelona bench: Valdes, Bartra, Abidal, Busquets, Iniesta, Villa, Jeffren

    Pedro is the 19th man who doesn’t make the match squad and will watch the game from the stands.

    OooooOOOOoooohhhh!!!! Afellay starts! Pedro sits! This ought to be fun!

    I hope Bartra and Jeffren get some second-half action!

  30. Lev
    January 19, 2011

    perfect line up. it makes sense to play at least some starters so that the bench players get familiar playing with the first team

  31. Nav
    January 19, 2011

    Oooh, very excited to see Afellay get a start 🙂

    • Ryan
      January 19, 2011

      Me too! It was the first name I looked for when the Barca FB status popped up.

  32. Eklavya
    January 19, 2011

    Good lineup! Xavi is here to help Afellay do a P! and help Bojan to not do a CT!

  33. January 19, 2011

    Oh. I see Guardiola is experimenting with a strikerless lineup. (Ba-dum-BAM!) Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

  34. Kari
    January 19, 2011

    I can run the LB, and I’ve sent admin an email. Unless they, of course, are secretly going to run it to foil my Afellay OMG HE STARTS LB celebration. Which they are. Party poopers.

  35. blitzen
    January 19, 2011

    Looks like our next Copa competition will be Almeria. I’m sure they will be out to prove something.

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