Liga Preview: Hércules – Barça, Saturday 2pm EST, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com, GolTV
In my world, venganza is a fun word. I don’t adhere to the notion of vendettas (especially not V for versions–was that the worst movie of all time? It was certainly close) or blood feuds, but I do love some serious gearing-up-for-a-revenge-showdown because it just adds an edge to what might otherwise be, you know, a regular, boring Barça-induced heart attack. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is about venganza. It’s about teaching poor Hércules a lesson about our house and the back of our net. Both are sacred ground. Tread on either with special care. And be prepared for absolute mayhem to be unleashed the next time we face your Roman demigod ass.
I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve spent most of the day staring at Al Jazeera’s online feed, which has been covering the turmoil/revolution/mass protest in Egypt. I haven’t exactly done my homework on Hércules or Barça, though there are certainly things to report other than I can’t believe they set another building on fire. First, there’s the little matter of revenge, which I have discussed, and then there’s repaying them for beating us at the Camp Nou. Wait, those are the same things.
El Mundo Deportivo, that paragon of journalism, has gone ahead and prepared for the match by comparing Lionel Messi to Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Yes. Of course. That’s totally reasonable. Messi, after all, assists and also scores. Which is just like Magic and MJ. I think. But then, wouldn’t like a Stockton-Malone freak baby be a better comparison? And Jarl Stocklone passes to himself and dunks it home! Deliver that. The point is, I think, that me barely writing coherent sentences about ripping Hércules’ heart out while humming the theme to Rob Roy is right in line with people who are actually paid for doing these things. So, uh, shouldn’t I get paid for this?
Dani Alves has returned to the squad list, which is good news as I was getting a little tired of Adriano totally screwing up our right side and making it so hard to win matches. Manita? What manita? Oh right, yeah, that one. But still, yeah, Alves is better and Adriano can play again on Wednesday against Almeria in the return leg. I was thinking the other day–perhaps just yesterday–that these small injuries in the middle of the season can sometimes help a team reach the end of the season without being too fatigued. But you can never really know, right? So anyway, Alves is back:
Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Adriano, Piqué, Milito, Fontàs, Abidal, Maxwell, Mascherano, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Afellay, Messi, Villa, Pedro, Nolito.
Bojan remains at home with a “stomach bug” (that’s a very specific medical term, mind you), Puyol remains sidelined by his knee injury, and Jeffren has the curse of Jeffren, as per usual. This means that Fontàs and
the Hunchback of La Masia Nolito get to travel to Alicante, though they seem unlikely to take part. I think there will be a CB pairing of Piqué and Milito with Abidal on the wing, but I’ve been wrong about these things before and I don’t really expect to be right this time either. For those of you who thought that Abidal should start against Almeria to combat Piatti and Crusat’s quickness, shouldn’t you all be arguing for Milito to combat Trezeguet’s aerial toughness? Unless, of course, Abidal has simply taken over as the 2nd choice LCB, which is fine by me, but which does leave us with Maxwell on the wing and I’m always more comfortable with Abidal out there. That man better not age.
For their part, Hércules get the good news that Nelson Valdez is fit, which was in doubt. Their full squad is: Calatayud (GK), Vethuizen (GK), Unai Alba (GK), Peña, Sarr, Cortés, Rodríguez, Abel Aguilar, Farinós, Cristian, Rufete, Fritzler, Tiago, Valdez, Kiko, Tote, Trezeguet, Sendoa, Portillo.
Points are important for Hércules, who have 22 points and have lost 2 straight by a combined scored of 5-0. Those were both on the road, however, where Hércules have been dreadful, except for that one time at that one stadium, where they won. They’re 1-3-7 (3GF, 19GA) away from home, but at home at the José Rico Pérez they’re 5-1-3 (19GF, 12GA). They haven’t, however, beaten anyone above 7th at home (they have yet to host Espanyol or, obviously, Barça) so that doesn’t bode well going up against a side that has yet to drop a single point on the road.
That’s right, in case you forgot, Barça is 9-0-0 (33GF, 4GA) on the road and is looking to extend their league winning streak to fifteen. Whoa, that’s a lot of wins, eh? So let’s keep it going and keep our lead at the top of La Liga (and, in fact, provisionally expand it to 7 points). There’s no reason to let Hércules get away with more of our points, is there? Lay the hammer down, boys.
Lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Abidal, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Pedro
Official Prediction: 0-3. Sorry, Hércules, but you must go down in flames.
Obviously it’s more than just showing up. Obviously it takes hard work and careful planning. That or some individual brilliance from Jarl Stocklone. Oh whatever, you’re tired of reading my thoughts…so listen to them:
A SPECIAL NOTE: I’m seeing the game listed as on both ESPN Deportes and GolTV, but I am not sure how true that is. Do not be mad if it is on one and not the other.