View from the Top

If you are an international billionaire like me, you may find the recent economic downturn a real downer. Once-pleasant occupations, such as ‘heir apparent to wealthy dictatorship / shady investment firm / big-city mayoral office’ are no longer promising. But that’s no reason to lounge about the VIP lounge. We’re playboys, right? So let’s play something!

Soccer is the world’s sport, and the world is our oyster. Why bother with those FaceSpace FIFA apps on your palm thingie? Sell your shares in EA Sports and get in the game with a real, live La Liga team! It’s frugal, it’s a franchise, and it’s a helluva lotta fun. Why, just ask our friend Ali Syed de Santander here:

 

Ownership comes with certain obligations (none, thank goodness, unduly onerous). First, you must enjoy a lingering, lovely Spanish luncheon with your opponent’s owner. Do not refuse a second helping of bull’s balls, or the chef will chide you for disrespecting his cocina. Just order another bottle of cava, and down the gilded hatch!

 

Once the tables are cleared, you may proceed to the stadium with your new friend. You must behave cordially, even warmly, with each other pre- and post-match, even if your captain has just keyed his coach’s Ferrari in the stadium lot. With all the cava you two have just imbibed, the bonhomie will flow freely. We’re all rich guys here, anyhoo:

 

 

Now, if you are indeed of royal lineage, it is advised that you leave off imperial accoutrements, no matter what the King of Burger does:

Although quirky headgear may endear you to your fans …

… come in handy should you lend a hand in stadium shower renovations …

… or even improve international relations (just don’t forget to don some decent threads over your BVD in your haste to make nice with your hosts):

Once the match is over, boogie down with your club like you were back at your favorite club on the Côte!

Your high spirits, business acumen and personable personage promise you a bright future in sports. Or politics. Or beyond!

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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.

294 Comments

  1. Sheena
    March 6, 2011

    Brilliant as always, SoMa.

    On another note, Jack Wilshere confirmed via twitter that he will definitely be fit for the match.

  2. Jnice
    March 6, 2011

    The Ali Syed guy is nuts. Plus he tied into a couple of shady dealings.

    Puyol has officially been ruled out now, so in response to Jim in the last post, I can’t see Pep going with Abidal and Milito in the middle.

    1. Because I don’t think Pep would play two lefties at cb.

    2. Because Milito isn’t even the same Milito he was last season. He has looked suspect against Betis, Sporting, and a couple of moments against Zaragoza. I don’t see how it is reasonable to play him against Arsenal. And remember last year, he got tackled by Diaby in midfield and was the main culprit for Bendtner’s goal.

    I, like everyone else would love to see Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, but I think Mascherano can do a good job. If you noticed against Zaragoza, he moved the ball quicker than he ever has. I trust our team to perform better with Mascherano in midfield and Busi in the backline than with Busi in midfield and Milito in the backline. I don’t see how he can play in a match of this magnitude.

    • soccermomof4
      March 6, 2011

      Why oh why oh why have we never given sMache a run out at CB? Busi in mid is necessary against Arsenal. I love sMasche, I think he’s awesome, but this game just screams play Busi in midfield! That being said, nothing says “you shall not pass” like a Busi and Mascherano pairing with our monsterback, King Eric, to mop up any problems. I guess if we have our best available XI out there it doesn’t matter where you start them, this being total football?

      • Jnice
        March 6, 2011

        Dunno why we haven’t given Mascherano a try at CB. Maybe Pep feels he doesn’t have the discipline to stay home and not get dragged out to close down a man?

        I would love for us to have our best midfield in this one, but at the expense of Milito playing CB? I don’t want to see us take that chance. Milito played well last year and still made the error for the goal. Imagine what can happen this time around.

        • soccermomof4
          March 6, 2011

          Milito can’t do this one!
          VV
          Alves, Busi, Abidal,Adriano (extra pace!)
          Xavi, Mascherano, Iniesta
          P!, Messi, Villa

          Thankfully we have the option to bring in someone like Masche!

          BTW, have you noticed that we’ve been toying with playing P! on the left more and it doesn’t seem to be causing the same amount of chaos as P! on the same side as Alves? Don’t know if it’s just me.

          • soccerdadof4
            March 6, 2011

            Completely agree with you SoMa4. Milito has just not been convincing enough.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2011

      That is bad news about Puyol. It does leave a big decision. On the plus side we’re not up against RVP or Walcott so Bendtner and Chamack are not going to skin us for pace in any major way.

      However, they are both pretty good in the air so Masch at CB is a non-starter for me ( not sure how good Abidal is in the air either). At some point there would be a total mismatch in height and we could suffer. We can’t expect a midfield of Fabregas, Wilshire and Nasri not to put some searching balls into the box over the course of 90 minutes.

      Busi is a possibility, Jnice – i wouldn’t worry about him there and he adds a bit of height. I’m just not sure he has the aggressive mindset of a CB – he does still have moments when his mind seems to fly out the window. Maybe Milito will improve with performances. He made some good challenges and I’m guessing he’ll definitely have Abidal beside him to cover pace wise.

      Big decision either way. *Sigh – does this mean we have to put up with Maxwell for another game 🙂

      • Jnice
        March 6, 2011

        LOL, I won’t be too disheartened if Maxwell plays, but I think there’s a possibility Adriano will get the nod. Although like I said before, I don’t know if Pep fully trusts Adriano to start a match like this.

        Regarding Milito, is the two left footed CB thing not a problem for anyone else? I don’t see that working well at all.

      • soccermomof4
        March 6, 2011

        “Big decision either way. *Sigh – does this mean we have to put up with Maxwell for another game”

        I wouldn’t be surprised to see Adriano instead to Maxwell. Adriano v Valencia (a much tougher opponent) > Maxwell v Zaragoza. He gives us pace and more attack. Nothing like two attack-minded Brazilians to keep the opponent’s FBs at home. *sigh!!!*

  3. soccermomof4
    March 6, 2011

    Thanks SoMa. You are awesome as usual. The thought of RoSell and Flo lingering over a leisurely luncheon is interesting. That would take an awful lot of cava. The thought of being at said luncheon while Rosell and Flo were both in attendance…not enough cava exists…

  4. March 6, 2011

    Very bad news on Puyol. Zaragoza rarely attacked yesterday but even then Milito was beaten on pace on multiple occasions.

    The team simply should not be in this position in the second round of CL match down 2-1.

    Given Puyol’s age and the number of minutes he’s played the last several seasons and in the WC there was a significant probability of him missing time with injury this season.

    Tendinitis is generally an “wear and tear” injury. It occurs from repeated stress and use.

    Pique – everyone knows his proclivity for picking up yellows cards. Not a surprise he’s out for leg 2 either.

    The root of this problem was set up in the summer. They never should have had such little depth at CB given the critical nature of the position, the age they had on the team at the position, and the injury risk. 3 CB + Abidal was poor planning and it’s coming back to hurt them very significantly now. But there’s nothing that can be done about it other than shuffle players.

    They are going to be forced to play Abidal and Busquets in the middle.

    Let’s hope Pep feels confident enough in Adriano to play LB. Because right now teams aren’t even bothering to defend Maxwell to any significant degree on the left flank.

    Zaragoza “parked the bus” to a degree I don’t think we’ve seen any other team do this season (more than even Levante). And even then, they really didn’t focus on defending Maxwell.

    Barca is so dangerous in the middle and on the right, teams have decided that they can’t devote resources to guarding Maxwell on the left because the defenders are better used elsewhere.

    One positive about Masch at DM – he’s generally good with long balls in the air. That’s a relative strength of his as a passer. And that’s a dimension they may need to utilize against the way Arsenal defend.

    Arsenal just didn’t think Barca would try to hurt them with long balls over the top and that allowed them to crowd the middle even more.

    Busquets and Abidal will play well at the back. The key to winning this match will be how well the Masch and Adriano/ Maxwell play.

    The major key will be LB – the Barca LB will be the player who by far has the most time and space on the ball (especially with Walcott out of the match – he presses well).

    The LB must hurt Arsenal.

    • Jnice
      March 6, 2011

      Good points.

      The more I think of it, the more I’m certain it will be Busi-Abidal in the middle.

      The only question left is whether it’ll be Maxwell or Adriano.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2011

      Don’t really agree with that assessment, Euler and its not really much to do with Maxwell. We’ll score against Arsenal no problem – they are a team with a weak defense and can’t shore it up as their game is based on attack. I think the key to this game will be not losing an away goal. I’m not fussy if it’s Adriano or Maxwell but if it’s Adriano he needs to have his defensive head on first. Look at Arsenal’s second goal against us. It happened precisely because Maxwell had pushed right up the park. Keita went to sleep on his covering duties and three passes later we’re in the smelly stuff.

      I also don’t agree that they don’t mark Maxwell. Like most teams they shuffle their defense across as required. If the attack comes down our right Maxwell will be left free and vice versa ( otherwise Maxwell would have a free run in on goal which has never happened.) If you’re saying they are happier if Maxwell is on the ball than Alves, I agree. The key is the speed with which we can shift the ball across the park. The difference then between Maxwell and Alves is a big one. If Alves gets it early enough he will run at them, Maxwell is still stopping it first and that’s not good enough.

      • March 6, 2011

        Look at Arsenal’s second goal against us. It happened precisely because Maxwell had pushed right up the park.

        Jim,

        I agree with you that keeping a clean sheet is the key to advancing. It makes life much simpler in terms of advancing.

        But that’s part of why I would like to see Adriano play rather than Maxwell.

        You mention Arsenal’s second goal – which was a breakdown of team defense and not only Maxwell. But Maxwell getting caught out was a large component for the problem. And a major reason why Maxwell was caught out of position is his lack of pace.

        Maxwell is not well suited for the way Pep has evolved the system this season because he has limited pace. He is unable to effectively get involved with the build up and attack while still being able to track back at speed.

        The way Pep has Barca playing this season puts enormous pressure on the full backs. They have to play well for the team to be effective both offensively and defensively.

        When the DM drops back to form a 3 man back line Barca loses one player in midfield. Pep is trading a player in midfield for a player wide in order to create more width. If that wide player doesn’t help build up play, maintain possession and create opportunities Barca have lost a player in midfield and gained very little in return.

        Teams have adjusted to the way Barca is playing this season however.

        And a major way they’ve done it is to essentially not defend Maxwell vigorously. Teams don’t defend symmetrically against Barca. They prioritize stopping the middle and right flank.

        Against Zaragoza – why did Pep move Pedro to the left during the game? It’s because there was so much room there because they weren’t prioritizing defending Maxwell and Bojan.

        Maxwell had acres of space around him and didn’t do much with it.

        That’s a major problem. Because it winds up leading Barca to shunt the ball middle and right. That makes it easier to defend them.

        If the LB doesn’t advance to participate in build up and maintaining possession then Barca stops utilizing the portion of the pitch with the most space. That’s a big problem.

        Zaragoza can only do so much. But against better teams that hurts Barca’s ability to defend because they are more prone to getting beat on the counter – as they were against Arsenal.

        Maxwell’s skill set is not fitting in well to the kind of dynamic 3-4-3/ 4-3-3/ 3-5-2 Pep is playing this season.

        And it’s not even Maxwell’s fault per se. The system requires an enormous amount from the full backs – and pace is vital both in attack and defense.

        Adriano is the better choice, IMO both offensively and defensively.

        • Jim
          March 6, 2011

          I agree with much of that, Euler, although not the analysis of the Arsenal goal. If you watch it again, Maxwell is quite rightly up the pitch helping with the attack and when we lose it he attempts to close down the man with the ball which is what we all do. However, it is passed away from him and very quickly it is up the other end. Keita was well behind Maxwell and hardly moved. No way Maxwell could get back in the time and we don’t call alves on it when it happens to him.

          Not sure how safe Adriano is defensively, otherwise I’d agree he might be worth a shout. However, had he wanted to play him against Arsenal I have a feeling he would have given him most of last night’s game to get used to it.

  5. Ryan
    March 6, 2011

    Wow, Kuyt hat trick against ManU, and there’s still 25 mins to go. Suarez is absolutely on fire.

    • soccermomof4
      March 6, 2011

      So Arsenal has again blown a golden chance to move up in the table! I’m so ticked! Oh wait….I wasn’t gonna let myself have any more gooner moments until after Tuesday! Lo siento!

      • jnelson
        March 6, 2011

        I’ve never seen someone with a hat trick play as bad as Kuyt. I really hope no one on this blog starts clamoring for us to buy him after today. He was awful in possession. 2 tap-ins courtesy of Suarez plus a great set-up from Nani.

        Joe Cole coming on… Time to change the channel.

        • Miguel
          March 6, 2011

          i’ve yet to see the match so i’ll reserve my clamoring for after i do.

          jermain defoe hadn’t scored for approx a year & now he’s got a brace in less than 10 minutes. yeah, yeah i know they’re playing wolves.

  6. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    I wake up to a SoMa post and the words “hat trick Dirk Kuyt”?!? Is this real life or am I still dreaming?

    Good post! Think I’ll start saving my pennies and buy myself a club! I’ll start small…I wonder how much Real Betis would cost?

    • Miguel
      March 6, 2011

      the hercules business model is one to emulate. match fixing, a training ground, paying your employees; what’s that?

  7. hammeronmessi
    March 6, 2011

    no quertion.busi in the middle with abidal.

    Adriano is a must after the show in valencia.no offence to jim,max simply doesnt give anything in attack,all he can is to give the ball back,even zara decided not to mark him,as euler mentioned.

    And anfied is such a special place.the vast nou camp had never created an atmosphere like anfied even in the white manita.at least to my viewing.that ground and fan r really really special.

    Suarez was on fire.1st goal was all bout him.if the EPLers saw what messi did aga4nst bilbao,i wonder what the commentors would say?

  8. I am of the opinion that Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi has to play in the midfield. The movement of midfield is crucial for Tuesday’s match. Busquets provides a lot in terms of possessional superiority in the middle than Mascherano. It has to be either Milito or Mascherano that have to pair in the defense. And I have a feeling Guardiola has already picked Milito.

  9. Eklavya
    March 6, 2011

    Sigh.

    So no Puyol.

    I’m sticking to the lineup I posted in the previous post which was shamelessly copied by everyone and has been reposted in every comment in this post (I kid I kid ….).

    VV
    Alves Abidal Busi Adriano
    Xavi Masch Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

    I really hope we play Adriano and not Maxwell. It’s time we took a bold risk and went all the way it. We will either go through or not go through. Its a win or lose situation.

    Do you guys think Pep will come out with a “WTFOMGBBQ” lineup like vs. Valencia?

    VV
    Alves Abidal Milito Adriano
    ———-Mascherano———
    —Busquets————–(Adriano)
    ————–Xavi
    Villa—— Messi ———Iniesta

    Somehow I doubt it….

    It’s looking like Cesc and Wilshere will definitely start. You know what that means … Cesc back at the Camp Nou … Yay … !

    VAMOS!!!!

    • Whatever
      March 6, 2011

      It will be Alves – Busquets – Abidal – Maxwell.

      • poipoi
        March 6, 2011

        Adriano. It has to be adriano.

        And who will mark cesc? Busi or masche? Someone has to do it, both players are awesome. I prefer busi but milito is a no-no-CL right now I think. I like Soccermomof4 line-up the most. We have to crush them leave them no option and maxwell is too soft 🙂 Iniesta adoan

        • poipoi
          March 6, 2011

          Gawd I submitted.. I mean Iniesta adriano villa in left side really is danger

  10. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    🙂 !!!!

    worth the wait. 😉 i can’t tell the king of burger from the king of catalunya; the adorable little fatty.

  11. Kariyanna
    March 6, 2011

    Glad to see Massimo Busacca is the ref for Tuesday’s game. I for one have found memories of him considering we never lost with him in charge of our matches.

    • Eklavya
      March 6, 2011

      Bussaca is the best referee in the world at the moment, in my opinion.

      He refereed the CL final vs ManU and also last year’s 1st leg vs Arsenal. He’s no Ovrebo though.

      He’s also swiss! JA!

  12. March 6, 2011

    Count me in as another who wants Adriano over Maxwell. Maxwell is a little too predictable for me — the defense just plays him for the backwards/sideways pass and know he won’t do anything else. Even though Adriano might make more mistakes on the ball, he’s more destabilizing to the opposing defense b/c he can run and pass and shoot.

    Call me crazy, but I don’t have a great feeling about Tuesday. Just a weird feeling in my stomach for this.

    • Kariyanna
      March 6, 2011

      King of Links Miguel!!!

      Honestly, sometimes I forget the class player of Mascherano we have on the benched during games. His passing and overall general attacking play have certainly improved. Wouldn’t mind seeing him out there against Arsenal on Tues.

  13. flyzowee
    March 6, 2011

    Its suicidal to play 2 left footed cbs, no puyol shld mean Smach in da holding role.
    But pep absolutely loves his fluency in midfield meaning smth crazy is happening on Tuesday.

    1. Fontas at cb in a baptism of fire?
    2. Afellay in da holding role?
    3. Who knows?
    Wat i do knw is im glad Smach has a higher chance of playing this game esp with fab playing in da hole as he does and wilshiere motoring forward.

    • Jim
      March 6, 2011

      Pep knows we need Busi Xavi and Iniesta in the middle to have the kind of possession we’re going to need but let’s wait and see.

      Why is anyone worried about two left footed CBs ? Most teams have two right footed ones. I’m more worried about what they do with their feet 🙂

  14. Camero
    March 6, 2011

    All this talk about selection at LB and CB. For me this game will come down to whether our main weapons turn up for the game. More specifically, if Iniesta and Messi have a good day then Arsenal will have little chance of conceding less than 4 goals

    • Jim
      March 6, 2011

      Agreed to a certain extent , Camero, but don’t expect Messi to have the kind of game he did last year. That doesn’t come along very often. I hope Iniesta has a good game. If he plays like he can, Xavi will control the game and we will have a real destabilising influence to run at them.

  15. March 6, 2011

    Iniesta’s drop off in form in the last few weeks is troubling for sure. He was off the charts from August to January. Slowed down recently. Hope the little rest did him some good.

    • Artur
      March 6, 2011

      I was glad he rested too, was really surprised Iniesta has started every single game this season for us!! (up until Zaragoza game that is) I suppose he really wanted to play after a long string og injuries.

    • Whatever
      March 6, 2011

      He was injured… He played with a hurting shoulder in the Arsenal game. He’s better now and I’m sure he’ll tear them apart.

  16. Artur
    March 6, 2011

    Nice article 😀

    I would totally roll out the same lineup/tactic as against Valencia. Arsenal’s strong point is attack, if we can pinpoint them in their end of the field with high pressure football with Adriano and Alves on both flanks, we shouldn’t have to worry about our captain Caveman being absent in the back. Plus don’t forget we NEED to score.

    • Vj
      March 6, 2011

      Only concern is the lack of Busi in midfield.. How are the efforts of cloning Abidal coming along? Can’t we add Busi in the mix too 😛

  17. flyzowee
    March 6, 2011

    One other thing to look out for is what happens around the 60min onwards where wenger usually his subs and how pep reacts to them.

    Needless to say, Pep tactical shifts with regards to subs during this period have raised eyebrows esp when the match is in a deadlock and undecided.
    Anyway in pep we trust.

  18. Kariyanna
    March 6, 2011

    Also to note I can’t believe over 577 people like Barcelona Football Blog on facebook!!!! Being new here do you guys usually get so many comments on a good day?

    Also Speaking of the facebook page, I noticed it hasn’t been updated in a loooooong time!!

  19. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Marcelo misses a wide open goal! Woot!@

  20. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    wow. marcelo completely botched that chance. racing’s defense looks really shoddy. former barca diva gio dos santos got a start in midfield, though! 🙂

      • Miguel
        March 6, 2011

        i snuck in through the service entrance. kennedy’s noggin is looking extra shiny today. i hope santander can nick a point.

  21. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Ozil really is a bit of class, though. Nice set-up for Adebayor.

    • Para
      March 6, 2011

      I hate to say it, but that was particularly delicious.

  22. soccermomof4
    March 6, 2011

    The Doomed 0-2 EE, aka “might as well go shopping”

  23. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Looks like it is going to be a goalfest. Oh well, it’s not like I was expecting anything different. At least CRonaldo can’t get any goals.

  24. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    wade couldn’t pull off that jumper. ha ha! yay lakers spurs is on next.

  25. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Is it just me, or does RM play more like a…you know…”team” without CRonaldo? I haven’t seen Benzema look that confident in ages, and the way Ozil is playing off the front line, setting them up, is really good. They just have a lot more fluidity without Mr. Ball-Hog up front.

    • soccermomof4
      March 6, 2011

      I thought the same thing last year when he was injured. And it’s not quite as onerous to watch EE when TB’s not there.

    • Miguel
      March 6, 2011

      yeah, they aite. they’re playing villarreal-ish. two strikers, ozil & granero in the middle, marcelo/the ramos getting forward. if i were a real fan i’d wish ronaldo sat out more.

    • blitzen
      March 6, 2011

      I’ll be interested to hear Bassam’s opinion on this when he comes to visit.

    • blitzen
      March 6, 2011

      Haha! The English commentators on my feed just said my exact point “They are playing with a freedom without Ronaldo; they are playing as a team.” 😛

  26. Kariyanna
    March 6, 2011

    hate to admit it but Madrid 2 goals where great. Ozil has won my heart even though he is on the darkside. I wonder what would’ve happened if EE had spent that 96million ON OTHER PLAYERS instead of that one CR7. hmmmmmmmm

  27. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Oh, and Malaga lost to Osasuna today and is now bottom of the league, so Pellegrini’s strategy of rolling over for Real Madrid really worked out well for him. 😛

  28. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    oh my god, even gasol is making threes!

    i mean boo madrid.

  29. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    gio dos santos wins a penalty!

    are you f***ing kidding me?

  30. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Oh COME ON! What kind of penalty kick was that! Even Bojan would have done better.

  31. jordi™
    March 6, 2011

    I mean iker could have had a drink and come back in time to pick it up.

  32. soccermomof4
    March 6, 2011

    Ramos is one nasty son……..

    • blitzen
      March 6, 2011

      Apparently he is one of the friendliest and most affable (if a little dim) guys you could hope to meet OFF the field. But he is a dirty player and prone to lose his temper (which can work to our advantage sometimes). He doesn’t play nearly so dirty for the NT, I suppose because Del Bosque won’t let him.

      • soccermomof4
        March 6, 2011

        I like him for the NT. Spain is my NT of choice unles the US plays them (Confederations Cup semi, baby!). But he seems to revel in nastiness for EE. Carvalho’s worse.

        • poipoi
          March 6, 2011

          Ramos always awful nt or ee. Can’t wait for a good rb to come up. Ramos is our weak spot. I love jordi alba.

  33. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Also, I like Alonso, but that was a stupid penalty to give up. Entirely his fault, and the guy was never going to score from that position anyway. he is lucky the resulting shot was muffed.

    • soccermomof4
      March 6, 2011

      Alonso is over-hyped. I do like him for the NT though. Busi’s better!

  34. soccermomof4
    March 6, 2011

    Now that miss seems so much worse 🙁

  35. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    kennedy’s goal celebration should be somebody shining his head, not his shoes.

  36. jordi™
    March 6, 2011

    Why was a RB that scored 3 top flight goals taking a penalty against REAL MADRID anyway?

  37. Miguel
    March 6, 2011

    ha ha! i’d be clutching my ankle if i were adebayor after that miss.

  38. blitzen
    March 6, 2011

    Well, it wouldn’t be a RM game without a penalty awarded for them, would it? *snerk*

    Still, it was very entertaining. Surprised the scoreline is this close considering how dreadfully Racing has played. Props to Ozil, Benzema, and Adebayor. Boos to Di Maria and Teh Ramos.

  39. Para
    March 6, 2011

    From Barcastuff:

    De los Cobos (doctor): “Barcelona is suffering a real cocaine epidemic because of the celebration of the triumphs of Barça.” [el periodico]

    I cannot even begin to understand…

    • Miguel
      March 6, 2011

      sure you don’t. 😉

      need that like a hole in the nose.

  40. Eklavya
    March 6, 2011

    Kari what are the results of your poll? Did you get any *weird* answers?

  41. Whatever
    March 6, 2011

    Guys, is anyone going to the Espanyol game at the Camp Nou?

  42. poipoi
    March 6, 2011

    Ozil is good, weak & shy to shine more than thong boy but there’s so much football in his boots. I heard he is second to messi in assists

  43. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 6, 2011

    so I will shamelessly copied Eklavya’s lineup for Arsenal clash :

    VV
    Alves Abidal Busquets Adriano
    Xavi SMasch Iniesta
    Pedro! Messi Villa

    I don’t think my heart is strong enough to see Milito in the lineup…
    but who knows, Pep may want to give us surprise…

  44. blaunero
    March 6, 2011

    Since it seems evident our midfield works better with Busquets there, why then not try Mascherano or Keita in defense beside Abidal? Makeshift defense or not it would certainly work better than having Milito’s pace or lack thereof and clumsiness there and expose us to rapid counters, I think.
    Hate to admit it but at the moment Real Madrid is playing better than we are. They played well even vs Deportivo though they only drew. They are scoring more goals and even Benzema is starting put it in the back of the net with regularity. What I think it comes down to is better squad rotation and a deeper bench. I consider us quite fortunate indeed to have such a healthy lead over Real at this stage of the season, for I fear they would be able to beat us.
    Also crucial is our schedule. From 5 Feb to 13 March we will have faced Atletico Madrid(h), Sporting Gijon(a), Arsenal (home and away), Athletic B(h), Mallorca(a), Valencia(a), Zaragoza(h) and Sevilla(a). That’s 9 games in barely over a month, 5 of which were in tough stadia to get points from; only once did we have a week uninterrupted by matches wherein we could train. (We could also say that this demanding schedule has been in force since January, but the opponents back then weren’t in truth as demanding and some of those games were in the CdR.) Real have faced as many opponents as we but their toughest game was vs Lyon in the CL (maybe even the Depor game, where they could and should have won). They’ve had fewer important injuries–Ronaldo’s is the first really, since Pepe’s–and above all they know that it doesn’t depend on what they do. I know it’s a doubleedged sword but I feel there’s more pressure on the leader than on the chaser.
    I’m not trying to justify our dip in form, but perhaps that’s what has been happening. I believe that as soon as this coming week comes to an end we’ll be able to get back some of the sparkle we’ve been missing. Maybe bring back Puyol and give Messi a breather. All that we can say is that if, and it’s a big if, we somehow by 14 March are in the quarters of the CL and still have a 7pt lead over Real Madrid, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be halfway there.

    • outerspacedout
      March 6, 2011

      We always dip a little around this time of the season, we usually peak around the time for both Clasicos (around November and around April) with a dip around February. Not worried much, no team can maintain spell-binding form forever and for now all we needed to do was get through that rough patch grinding out results.

      And as you pointed out we played very very tough games with little rest. Atletico, Arsenal away, Bilbao, Mallorca, Valencia away, are all very difficult games. And we got results in all of those league games, while still being in a rather good position in time for the return Arsenal leg. If we follow the trend from previous seasons we’re going to start picking up form and barreling towards spectacular again soon, hopefully we will get through the Arsenal game unscathed (I expect us to). If we get past Arsenal then we would be perfectly set, with everything still to play for as we start getting back into spectacular form- with the league still safe, in the final of the Cup, and hopefully in the quarters of the CL.

      • blaunero
        March 6, 2011

        That’s me hope too, that this is merely a dip in form, like the one we had in ’08/’09. Only time will tell but we can’t get complacent. It is a hard enough thing to win the CL; it is nigh impossible to do so when the media etc say you’re the best team ever and hands down favourites. We have to remain humble and take what comes at us one game at a time.

    • Jnice
      March 6, 2011

      I saw Madrid against Deportivo. For 70 minutes, they were average and no better than we were.

      I saw Madrid against Lyon and for most of the match and especially the first half they were average.

      How are they playing better than we are? Before this match, they struggled to score more than 1 goal a game away from home.

      I’m afraid you’re giving them way too much credit.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        March 6, 2011

        MTE… if EE were better, they won’t be 7 points behind us…

        (take a note we’re drew against Gijon, so they should’ve been have exactly the same point with us)

      • blaunero
        March 6, 2011

        Goals hardly tell the entire story in this case. Real hit the post twice vs Lyon and twice vs Depor, they had more possession, and in the Depor match in particular they ended having 5 offensive players plus Xabi and Ramos. We played poorly vs Gijon (due to their defensive tactics), lost vs Arsenal because we thought we’d already won, barely beat Athletic B, and fought Valencia blow by blow. That’s not playing well. That’s being a great team, for it is the great teams that win no matter how they play.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 6, 2011

      we cannot maintain our brilliant play during November – Desember for the whole season…
      there’s always a dip along the way…

      not just Barça, but also other teams…

      look at Villareal, at the end of January, they were so close with EE, only 6 points gap… that’s amazing…
      but now, they are 17 points away from EE…

      meanwhile, Valencia is unbeaten since Desember until they met us…

      every team has a different graphic…

      • blaunero
        March 6, 2011

        The fact of the matter is that Real is at the moment playing better than we. Whether this is down to a dip in form on our part or indeed because Real’s players are finally jelling it doesn’t much matter. True, we can’t keep that same November-form for the course of an entire year, but we mustn’t make excuses for ourselves. Maybe we will pick our form up; maybe we won’t, and the 2007 nightmare might be repeated. The most important thing is not to get ahead of ourselves. One game at a time.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          March 6, 2011

          yes, just like before El Clasico, everyone said EE played better than us…

          (which maybe true, cause they were on top of us in the table, unbeatable in all competitons, produced more goals, and conceded less than us back then)

          I don’t know why, but I feel Barça’ll be in their top form again on April… Let’s hope I’m right… 😀

        • Jnice
          March 6, 2011

          But it’s not a fact.

          If I look at their recent matches, this game against Racing is the best they have played from start to finish.

          I don’t even know what your issue is here and why it is necessary to compare us with Madrid when we have picked up the points we’ve needed to in our last few matches.

          Sorry, but you make little sense.

          • Jnice
            March 6, 2011

            And you can count that Malaga match if you like, but it was apparent from the get go that Malaga weren’t interested in playing that match. Their manager subsequently admitted as much.

            Anyway, my focus from today is on Arsenal and not if Madrid is “playing better” than us. When, we’ve played better than them for most of the season and are picking up the points we need to right now. If you want to give them the style points, you can.

            I’ll take the 3 points.

          • BarcaGirl_Indo
            March 6, 2011

            they lost some players (including their main goalscorer), but they played great and looked like a team…wow…

            maybe Bassam will share his opinion about this…

            btw, your prediction is *almost* correct, Jnice… you predicted 0-3… 😛

          • Kariyanna
            March 6, 2011

            Jnice you didn’t have to be so harsh on blaunero. He’s just worried like any devoted fan would be when you see your rivals winning while also remembering the 07 season.

            Everyone has his/her certain amount of faith in the team, that guides them in being confident or worried.

            I for one knows the strengths our team can reach so I’m not so much worried but certainly I doubt we would see another 5-0 against Madrid this season. Their performance today showed that certain players can link up well when given space and time.

          • Jnice
            March 6, 2011

            It’s not harsh, Kariyanna. He is making very little sense.

            Yes, Madrid are winning, but are we not winning as well? I don’t understand the concern about how they are playing compared to us when we have a 7 point lead and are winning our matches.

            It makes very little sense to me. This is just me being honest.

          • blaunero
            March 7, 2011

            There’s nothing wrong with comparisons, and saying that one team is playing better than another, for the moment, doesn’t mean that there’s an issue at hand. I don’t think there’s anything to make sense out of either–my words were simple enough: Real is playing better, whether we like it or not. Will they be able to keep that up? I don’t know. Will we be able to play scintillating football again? Most probably. Otherwise there’s little or nothing to get excited about.

          • poipoi
            March 7, 2011

            I still think we the best but paranoia is not that bad when you talk about EE. better watch out.

            The fact, or at least to me it is a fact is that during this month ee has grown (improved, incorporated adebayor well) and barça has been going down (they don’t win as easy and they suffer in the pitch, playing worse than they usually do). If we play 100% and keep improving little things I don’t care how much ee grows they won’t even see the ball, but we haven’t been looking very good. Another thing is that our players know each other too well already, theirs are getting to know themselves. Both things have good and bad aspects IMO BUT besides that, the team facing us knows everything about our system and our players’ moves… when I watch di maria, ozil or benzema I don’t know what they are going to do because I’ve hardly seen them, I don’t know all of their moves. cr? is another thing he only has two: bike and shot 🙂 …. You have to agree they have more space for improvement while we are almost on top already (or were, now we aren’t). I think a good thing to do would be make Afellay sMasch and Keita play more games for some variation, not all tuesday though.

            tuesday we have a real test, all people talking about how nice we play how great we are but if we don’t go through some will laugh at us for all that talk. such a big game, messi xavi and iniesta have to be on fire

          • outerspacedout
            March 7, 2011

            Poipoi- of course when you watch them play you’d be less likely to know what Benzema, Di Maria or Oezil would do than what a Barcelona player would do, cos you watch our games regularly but for those Real players you say you’ve hardly ever seen them. That’s not necessarily cos our game is inherently more predictable, or our players more predictable.

            As for the worrying about our form. Honestly. Real are playing better than they were before yes. We are just having our regular temporary dip, a dip during which we still dominated every match and won almost every match, where we have had two games a week without almost any rest in a long, brutal stretch of Atletico, Gijon, Arsenal, Bilbao, Mallorca, Valencia and others. We’ll be back in top form in a couple weeks, we just have to hope that by then we’ll be as safe and dry in the CL as we are in the league and Cup as of now.

  45. outerspacedout
    March 6, 2011

    Ps. I saw some time ago back when I could read stuff from my phone but not really post much that Barca96 mentioned to a newbie poster over here that I was Bangladeshi. I’m not, I’m Maldivian, which is an island nation in the Indian Ocean.

    http://www.southasians.info/images/southasia/South_asia.jpg

    It’s down there in the South-West corner of the map, the city with the star labeled Male’ in the set of islands down there. I moved back to Malaysia again this week though.

    • barca96
      March 6, 2011

      Apologies outerspace.
      I always confuse the two countries.
      I had two close friends back in high school who were from BD and Maldives. Always confused them back then either.haha

    • outerspacedout
      March 6, 2011

      Yeah I didn’t mind, just being informative cos Maldives is so small some people on this blog might not have heard of it before.

  46. barca96
    March 6, 2011

    I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to be rude.
    But why is there a new post up so quickly after Kxevin spent hours preparing his review?

    • SoccerMom
      March 6, 2011

      Hi Barca96, Just popped in to make sure post went up.
      Because mine are not published neither quickly nor rudely, but scheduled days in advance with prior approval from the mods.
      Kxevin’s wonderful review is available for you to read and comment on our home page.

      • barca96
        March 6, 2011

        I see. So it’s the mods who give a go-ahead.
        Im sorry. I don’t know how it works.
        I guess we have a lot coming within these few days since they pushed yours right after the review.
        They couldn’t wait any longer for your beautiful post.

  47. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 6, 2011

    I get this video from a forum :

    YouTube – Mascherano vs Arsenal – Last game for Liverpool (15.08.2010)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je79snTnhkY

    I remember that game too, sMasch was just brilliant against Arsenal…
    still regretting why Pep didn’t put sMasch in instead of Keita… 🙁

  48. xavi
    March 6, 2011

    So you guys what’s your opinion on playing Bartra at CB? I know it’s a huge match and there isn’t tiny bit of possibility he’s going to start but he’s not going to be any worse than Milito now is he? And no to Fontas because he’s left footed too like Bilal… I am strictly against starting Milito not because he’s left footed and might not be compatible with Bilal, come on they are professionals at international level they could easily overcome that hurdle, but because he’s really been susceptible at the back this year. Looks like we are out of options because playing a kid is not at all an option for this match and we sure have to sacrifice the comfort of having Busi in the middle… But let’s hope we come out victorious and qualify for the quarters 🙂

    • Jnice
      March 7, 2011

      Bartra is not an option since he hasn’t even trained with the team recently. This wouldn’t be a good match to throw him in, anyway.

      Had he played more minutes with the first team this season, he could’ve been a viable option, but as it stands, he’s only played against Ceuta and Rubin Kazan, I believe.

  49. Kariyanna
    March 6, 2011

    Hmmmmmm so apparently MouMou has been watching our games more often now.

    After his team played so brilliantly well today he just had to comment on us and how we can win without playing well since we were supposed to have ten men but continued with 11 since Milito didn’t get sent off. He says Madrid have to play well every game to catch us since we get “help” even when we don’t play as good.

    I just love it when he thinks about us 🙂 Makes me know that other people think our team is special enough to pay close attention and detail to!!!

    • Jnice
      March 6, 2011

      That’s just an example of his ridiculousness. How many matches have Madrid won without playing well this season?

      I’m so very thankful he isn’t our manager.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 7, 2011

      LOL…
      as if EE never played bad and get a “help” from the ref…
      is there any person in football world that I dislike more than Mou? I’m not sure… 😀

      of course he always think about us,
      that’s why Perez signed him, because he is the so-called “Barça Killer”…

      • poipoi
        March 7, 2011

        he’s the definition of… shameless

  50. Víctor
    March 6, 2011

    Call me crazy, but I think that Puyol will play against Arsenal. This official news is just a tactic to make Arsenal feel “safer” and more “confident”…

    • soccerdadof4
      March 6, 2011

      Interesting theory but to be honest it seems unlikely.

    • Jnice
      March 6, 2011

      That’s not how we roll. We don’t put out reports to confuse opponents.

      Puyol isn’t playing.

      • Vj
        March 7, 2011

        I remember Abidal being ruled out against Inter in the CL group phase. Unlikely, but Puyi would be a massive boost..

  51. Kariyanna
    March 6, 2011

    Nasri: “If we beat Barcelona, my dream would be to play vs Marseille in 1/4, then Tottenham in 1/2, then Chelsea in the final”

    I always thought the reason players love playing the UCL was that you get to play other teams from all over Europe why would you wanna play 2 teams from London if you do make it through the 1/4.

  52. Kariyanna
    March 6, 2011

    So I was bored and decided to look at some old articles in the BFB archives. I noticed this one article written by Luke in July 2010

    http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/3806/20102011-la-liga-calendar/#comments

    Apparently people or should I say Madrid trolls were still commenting on it 4 months after it was original published. I wonder how many old post are still receiving comments after months of its original publication.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 7, 2011

      duh! what the hell was he doing there?

      I’m happy now we use a registration system…

  53. Kariyanna
    March 7, 2011

    I wonder how accurate the whos.amoung.us stats are.

    Apparently most of the readers here come from North America and North West Europe around England,France,Germany,Poland etc.

  54. xavi
    March 7, 2011

    Apparently Song might not make it too for the clash… IMO if it really happened this would be the biggest flow for them. I mean they have replacements for RVP as well as for Walcott in Bendtner/Chamakh and Arshavin but for Song there’s none! Although he should have been sent off in the first leg, he was the reason they had a chance to come back and put a fight in the first leg…he kept on harassing our mid fielders and cut out many chances for us!! Sure would be a big blow to lose your defensive mid fielder in the modern game

    • Ian
      March 7, 2011

      The only thing I know about Song is that in the first leg he was subbed off for Arshavin, and the latter was more damaging. Arsenal have a good arsenal themselves and one player down like Song might not make that much a difference.

      More like instead of letting their squad rotate, why don’t Barca just play better and end it there… xp

      • Sheena
        March 7, 2011

        In the first leg, he was subbed off to make room for an attacking player, and that destabilized our defence. (That and well, us playing incompetently)

        This time ’round Arshavin and probably Bendtner (or Chamakh) are going to have to start to fill in for RVP and Walcott, so it’s a rather different situation.

        And to answer your second question, it’s fairly impossible for the same group of players to play at their absolute peak week in and week out without a rest. Don’t forget that when we went on that crazy winning streak where we were banging in goals five at a time, there wasn’t a single midweek match. We played Panathinaikos before the Clasico, and that was that until we faced Bilbao in the Copa.

        • Ian
          March 7, 2011

          Thanks for the clarification, apparently I haven’t watched any bit of replay of that loss since, even in my immature mind lol… Yes yes I know… XD

          And about that second question, of course I knew all that! I was being rhetoric ‘s all, didn’t mean Barca had to play every game and get a manita (if I ever sounded like that lol). I am always observant of the matches and player conditions, and if I want to be realistic I’d simply say there’s nothing that will guarantee us a win. So yeah, I perfectly knew/remember what you were talking about 😀

        • Ian
          March 7, 2011

          Oh and the new situation you were talking about, how do you think Barca would/should manage that? 😀

    • Helge
      March 7, 2011

      Well, there’s still Abou Diaby and even Jack Wilshere can play as a half-defensive midfielder.
      Plus, I don’t trust these injury-news anyway^^

  55. ooga aga
    March 7, 2011

    soma, you are the best. thank you thank you thank you for sharing your humor with us.

  56. barca96
    March 7, 2011

    Where is Mr. Skywalker(Luke since you guys love Star Wars)?

  57. flyzowee
    March 7, 2011

    Assuming milito does start this match, are we gonna play him on the right covering a high flying alves or are we gonna play our best LB in a CB Position facing the wrong side of the pitch and covering alves at the same time?

  58. Diego
    March 7, 2011

    Valdes
    Avles-Busquet-Abidal-Maxwell
    ———-Masch
    ——Xavi——Iniesta
    Pedro—–Messi—-Villa

    As a Sub, We can put Adriano for Masch to make more width and Busquets pushes forward.

  59. Diego
    March 7, 2011

    Xabi Alonso thought they won 4-1 and wrote it on his facebook page. 😀

  60. Helge
    March 7, 2011

    I wonder how Mou feels about this:
    The league match against Sevilla will be on Sunday, 21:00 CET. Sevilla is without Luis Fabiano for the next 3-6 weeks.

    I think tomorrow’s match will be the most important of the season (well, maybe there will be another as important or even more important CL match – but for me facing the Gunners is a bigger challenge than Real Madrid in la Liga, for instance). There will be other huge matches in la Liga, but at least the players can rest 4 days before playing in Sevilla, and another week after that. The Arsenal match comes at the end of a very long midweek-games run, if we qualify against them, we will have survived the toughest phase of the season.

  61. Olufestus
    March 7, 2011

    I will like to see kxevin asking who JACK WILSHERE is…WE ARE WINNING TOMORROW!LET THE HOSTILITIES RESUME @ THE 98,000 IMPOSING STADIUM

  62. barca96
    March 7, 2011

    I was restless for the past few weeks ever since I saw a dude wearing a next seasons Barca jersey before it was even finalized.
    Barcastuff confirmed that it was a fake jersey.Pheeuw.
    I thought I was either seeing stuff or I fell into a coma and woke up next season. Some X-Files s**t going I thought.

  63. March 7, 2011

    Busquets will very likely play at the CB position, not ideal, but that’s kinda the only choice.

    I personally think playing Mascherano at DM is almost as good given they will be exchanging positions from time to time to allow the most attacking Busquets to play further up the pitch. Mascherano is definitely more defensive, and lack attacking flair. That’s why playing them will make the most sense.

    Interesting opinion such as Keita in CB won’t happen as we won’t do unnecessary experiment in big game such as this. It will, and shoulda happened in the game against Zaragoza if Pep saw the option. So, it’s unlikely to happen now.

    Given Adriano has been kinda good these days, he will most likely feature on the left instead of Maxwell. Maxwell has been very dependable, seldom put a foot wrong, even less to cost us goals. But since we are gonna play to win, I don’t think it’s wrong to use our most attacking lineup available to play Arsenal. Plus, I trust Adriano’s defending as well. The most likely trade off is to see Mascherano drop deeper in our half and play almost like a CB to push Abidal to cover more of the left flank. Allowing Adriano to push, much like Alves on the right. It will give us huge flexibility and options.

    The goal Adriano created for us against Valencia speaks volume for his form and actual ability. He inserted and provided what we have been looking for in Maxwell. Thus,

    Adriano should play.

    • barca96
      March 7, 2011

      And we shouldn’t worry too much about the left side as Walcott is out.

      Has Keita ever played at CB? I don’t think so.
      I remember he was asked to stand in at CB 2 seasons ago but he refused and Yaya accepted it. And that was the end of it.
      And I don’t really think Keita would do well at CB. He is a runner.
      The guy runs non-stop. Playing him at CB would reduce his usefulness(cant find the perfect word 🙁 )

      • Cule
        March 7, 2011

        Think he was asked to play LB, and that was in the cl final..

      • outerspacedout
        March 7, 2011

        ‘Would not be the best utilization of his skill set’?

    • momo
      March 7, 2011

      Meh, I’m not worried. We always doubt this team in situations like this and it constantly proves us wrong by raising its game.

      Tommorow will be no different.

    • Helge
      March 7, 2011

      Seriously, I KNEW this. I actually expected Walcott to be fit, too – but it seems that he is really injured.
      Don’t know which one of the two is more dangerous right now, Walcott got the pace, but RvP is in the best shape of his life and he is scoring more than 50% of all Arsenal goal’s lately…
      I would definitely feel more confident without RvP, and now don’t tell me that we should play against the strongest possible Arsenal line-up, our whole central defense is screwed and we have to play another 2 players out of position due to the injury/suspension. Sucks!

  64. March 7, 2011

    Ha! It wasn’t just me. From Sid Lowe’s Guardian Liga wrapup:

    Barcelona beat Zaragoza 1-0 and it was very, very, very dull. Above all, it was more evidence of a new trend. The difference has become so great between Madrid and Barcelona and the rest that we are now seeing a revolutionary tactical approach – teams defending 1-0 deficits.

  65. March 7, 2011

    There’s been a lot going on in my absence, so briefly:

    –To say that EE is playing better than us right now is comparing apples to oranges. The question is always, “Compared to what?” Common opponents? They beat Racing 3-1, a side that we beat (twice) 3-0. Deportivo, who held them to a scoreless draw? We hung 4 goals on them in their house. So define “playing better than us.”

    –Puyol being out is a loss. Huge. Particularly if Van Persie plays. No Pique, no Puyol. Ouch. Frankly, I don’t know what the hell Guardiola is going to do. I know what I would like to see, and that’s Mascherano at CB. He almost plays there anyhow when he’s at DM, and a strong tackler in our high line wouldn’t hurt.

    But it’s a mess, frankly, one that I don’t see an easy solution for, except to get 2 or 3 fast goals, then tika-taka the time away.

    –SoMa IS a mod, and doesn’t need approval from anyone to grace us with her bonbons. We strive to have at least a post a day, sometimes two. I’ve said it before and will say it again: A new post doesn’t kill its predecessor.

    –I’m very nervous about tomorrow. Guardiola needs to pull something out of his butt, stat. As Euler has noted, squad depth is killing us. Whoever thought that we’d be rolling into a crucial match with out CB options as two left-footed players? Yikes.

    Yes, if our system works the way that it’s supposed to, the back line rarely sees the ball. But all it takes is one goal to completely change the tie.

    • Blow-Grenade
      March 7, 2011

      Playing Busi as a defensive midfielder is essential tomorrow, just because he can turn the ball around so quickly. In the last few games Ive noticed a new side to his game, providing the killer pass.

      Abidal is a rock, I dont mind having Milito and Abidal as two centre backs tomorrow, mainly because Van Persie is a left footed player.

      This tie is different compared to the one in Arsenal, Barca is playing at home. Barca will be attacking much more than they did at Arsenal. Also several key players are rested.

      The main difference maker will be how our wing backs are going to play play and spread the field. Alves and Adriano/Maxwell are crucial to the tie. We are well set in the midfield with Busi, Iniesta, Xavi combination. Based on his performance in the last match, I would like to see Adriano on the left wing.

      • momo
        March 7, 2011

        Not sure about Milito mate. He’s been in dreadful form this season. I still think Pep is going to formally place Busi at CB and Masch at DM, but they will alternate during the match kind of like the Valencia game.

      • March 7, 2011

        I think you’re right. Jim thinks we’re both wrong, however. 😀

        Actually, my ideal player is a Maxwell/Adriano hybrid. Maxwell is rock-solid positionally, but he risks getting caught out if the direction of play shifts abruptly. Adriano isn’t as solid positionally, but has gobs of pace, which gives him more attacking flexibility. He’s also a better attacker than Maxwell.

        So my ideal player for that side would be …. hey …. Abidal! But he’s our CB.

        • Tom, Dick and Harry
          March 7, 2011

          “Adriano isn’t as solid positionally…”

          That can be easily fixed with more minutes on field (to gain confidence and get used to the game speed) and extra sessions in the film room.

          More often than not we can use an attacking minded player at LB. Adriano is superior in that department comparing to the alternatives.

          The physical condition and tactics are an easier issue to fix as long as the player is of average intelligence (or better).

          The mind set and level of comfort with using both feet is more complex and harder to address at that age. Players are far up on the development curve and had built up a sizable ego. Few will be ready to understand the constructive critique and put extra work.

        • soccermomof4
          March 7, 2011

          I’m kinda thinkin’ that Adriano gives Arsenal more to worry about coming at them from the left. Opponents have had the luxury lately of clogging our right side and ignoring our left. Busi with Abi at CB and Masche as the DM is the best thing that Pep can pull out of his…..um…..repertoire and although I’d love to have Busi at DM, maybe he and Mashe will switch up with each other as the situation evolves (this is total football after all?!?). If only we had tried Mashe at CB earlier in the season (or invested in a CB). Scared to death of tomorrow 🙁

          • poipoi
            March 7, 2011

            I’d go with adriano, tuesday or any other time. If he gets full games and stays injury free he can do very good for us. He is a real threat not just runs upward like maxwell.

            I am only afraid of the one that learned to play foot under our concept… who will mark hewhoshallnotbenamed? I’m seeing him free with a lot of space in camp nou. To calm down I think about valds

    • Eklavya
      March 7, 2011

      Thanks for the giving an image that’ll be hard to forget Kxev.

  66. Humphrey Bogart
    March 7, 2011

    Now that the game comes closer I really get angry again that we wers so wasteful and complacent in the first leg and have brought ourselves in this situation. Puyi out is a blow I do not know we can take in the state some of our players are in. Then the CB situation: taking Busi out of the midfield means less fluidity, but playing Milito means to giva away a goal at least, and if that happens we have to score three.

    And what is this with this Mou-Like-Mindgames from Wenger. First RvP is out, now he is in. Will Walcot and Song also make an appearance tomorrow?

  67. Artur
    March 7, 2011

    All this debate about our LB and CB… Choosing the right players for missing ones… No matter who plays tomorrow one player who will make or break the game for us is .. Iniesta… Yup you heard me. Xavi/Messi/Villa will be all double or tripple marked, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal park the bus either, however if we have a ruthless Ghostface marauding the field punishing Arsenal for not considering him a big threat, it’s goodbye Gooners and helloo quarter finals. I sincerely hope the little rest he had will be enough for him to do his thing tomorrow.

    And don’t forget.. It’s not Arsenal vs Barcelona tomorrow… It’s Arsenal vs 98011 tomorrow.

    In pep we trust and may the better team win tomorrow!

  68. Eklavya
    March 7, 2011

    Bad news:
    Van Persie is in the squad?! WTF!

    Good news:
    No Song! Yay! That means much more space in the midfield! Yes!

    • blitzen
      March 7, 2011

      Wenger: “It wasn’t a trick, the game’s too important for that. Tomorrow the doctors will decide, he’ll play if he’s 100% fit.”

      • Eklavya
        March 7, 2011

        Wenger’s 100% and our 100% is not the same.

    • blitzen
      March 7, 2011

      Good stream, thanks.

      Off sick today. Too bad I can’t be off tomorrow.

      • Miguel
        March 7, 2011

        🙁 feel better.

        i’ve got the day off tomorrow, luckily.

        i’d post the line-up but i can’t find it. fontas, bartra, muniesa, dos santos, & soriano are playing, for sure.

        • blitzen
          March 7, 2011

          No Thiago.

          So all those people calling for Fontas or Bartra to be called up for Arsenal tomorrow should know that there is no chance of that if they are playing today.

  69. Miguel
    March 7, 2011

    a school of octopuses in the stands.

  70. soccermomof4
    March 7, 2011

    Aw! Adriano just had a baby boy! Congrats!

    “Barça utility player Adriano Correia became a father for the second time at the weekend, his wife giving birth to a healthy little boy named Azhaf. Speaking on his twitter feed, the Brazillian said, “We just had my second child [who] was born and I’m happy everything went well thanks to God. Mom and Azhaf are fine.””

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/#ixzz1FwIRZPJ7

  71. Josep
    March 7, 2011

    Clearly our lineup will be this

    VV
    Peter-Bjorn-And-John
    Busquets
    Belle-Sebastian
    Messi-Messi-Messi

    • Josep
      March 7, 2011

      jnice subs in for And in 1st minute due to red card and scores a perfect hat trick.

  72. jordi™
    March 7, 2011

    Busi says hes offered to play CB.God i love his attitude.He’d volunteer to play in goal if he had to.

  73. Helge
    March 7, 2011

    Why, oh why does Pep not trust in Fontas and/or Bartra?
    What if one of our defenders gets injured, then there is only Milito left. And to be honest, Milito simply doesn’t have the skill, pace, positioning or anything else that’s needed to play against Arsenal. Milito has become slow as a snail. He was our weak link against Zaragoza. If Milito plays tomorrow, Arsenal’s chances raise by 100%.

  74. Miguel
    March 7, 2011

    golazo!!! what was bartra doing all the way up there? that was beautiful.

  75. blitzen
    March 7, 2011

    A CB rushing the box and setting up a goal–that’s the Barca way! 😀

  76. Josep
    March 7, 2011

    Who is #3 that run was sick that was jnice-esque

    • Jnice
      March 7, 2011

      I wish I could play pick up with y’all, you would see what I can do lol.

      • Josep
        March 7, 2011

        I rarely play indoors in a gym where I’m the only one who speaks English.

        make Kxevin play with you and I this summer

        • Eklavya
          March 7, 2011

          Lol, for some reason I’ve imagined how it would be playing real life football with you guys. Kxevin is Thuram, Isaiah is Jorequa and I’m Messi. Jnice can be The Yaya or Thiago.

          Am I forgetting someone? Oh yeah Josep is the ballboy lol 😀

          • Eklavya
            March 7, 2011

            Ramzi and Euler are the two team’s coaches.

          • Josep
            March 7, 2011

            haha why do you get to be messi? of course jnasty is Thiago. I’m glad i’m the ballboy I’m pretty garbage..

            although the local Sheva did call me Ronaldinho’s son.. I think it’s because I have ugly long hair. I could pull off being Puyol.

          • Jnice
            March 7, 2011

            I kind of play like Thiago… I think that’s why I like him so much haha.

  77. Jnice
    March 7, 2011

    Was that not a red card type challenge by Luna? Looked like it to me.

  78. Humphrey Bogart
    March 7, 2011

    One thing Mou said before the El Clasico I really liked: no matter what happens tomorrow will still be tuesday. To see our lads from the B-Team now just gives me that feeling. We may go out tomorrow but there will be a next saison, new guys to come and guys to get promoted, to guess who will make it to the first team, to follow Bartra/Fontas or Muniesa and hopefully see them succed. I was extremly anxious today with regards to our game tomorrow but this game now somehow cheers me up so much, I can hardly explain it.

  79. blitzen
    March 7, 2011

    Pretty full stadium for a Segunda game! Guess there isn’t much else to do in Tenerife on a Monday night. 🙂

  80. Josep
    March 7, 2011

    Btw I’m not nervous at all for tomorrow.

    We will beat the Arsenal. that’s nearly a given. which means we’ll score atleast one goal more. if its 1-0, we go on, if its 2-1 PKs, if its 3-2, that won’t happen. 🙂

  81. Miguel
    March 7, 2011

    any subs, streakers or animals come onto the pitch?

  82. blitzen
    March 7, 2011

    Thiago is in tomorrow’s match squad!

      • blitzen
        March 7, 2011

        In the squad, not necessarily going to play. In fact he is the most likely one to be left out, if it isn’t Jeffren

        • soccermomof4
          March 7, 2011

          We have a shortage of defenders but have mids coming out of our wazoos, and he calls up an extra mid! Those painkillers must be something!

  83. Nav
    March 7, 2011

    Lol, RVP will apparently play tomorrow. Wegner says ‘it wasn’t a trick’, hahaha.

    • soccermomof4
      March 7, 2011

      That and vP and Cesc REALLY had stomach bugs and had to sit out their last NT games! Not buyin’ it!

  84. blitzen
    March 7, 2011

    I just noticed the boys are all playing in short-sleeves. It must officially be spring!

    • Miguel
      March 7, 2011

      i thought bojan saw his shadow & scurried back into his hole?

  85. March 7, 2011

    I am a little bit surprised that some of you are surprised that RVP was included in the squad. Once that news was out, i told my cule friend, hey, dont count on RVP not playing, this has happened before and will happen again. And there you go, RVP will either start or make a substitute appearance tomorrow. It’s all lame english tactical games. RVP requires different instructions than Bendtner would or Chamakh would. For example, i would play Adriano with RVP but Maxwell with Bend/Chamakh.

    For the few that were asking for Mascherano to be played at center back: The reason why that would not work is the fact that if bendtner/Chamakh do play tomorrow, then you will need to watch out for an aerial threat. Abidal is good in the air, but he is no Pique or Puyol. Mashcerano will get beat in the air by the power of gods creation, his height.

    As for playing Fontas/Bartra, as talented as they might be (seen them play for you guys a couple of times), putting them in a high profile game like this could be suicide. One mistake from them that costs you your CL season and it could mentally kill a young player.

    Blitzin, who i hope gets better, was asking if Madrid played better without CR7. The thing is, CR7 isn’t the same one of last year. He is actually passing more these days. Not as much as he used to, but he is passing more. That is why he has 13 assists to his name in all competitions. The reason why we played better is because one player was no longer the only tactic. We did not have to run the play through Ronaldo to form an attack, but rather had to look elsewhere.

    The biggest reason why we played better was the center of midfield. Granero started his first game next to Alonso in a while, and it made the difference. Granero is probably the 3rd best passer in the squad behind Alonso and Ozil. When you add that extra dimension, you sense that the teams passing has become better. Granero, surprisingly i must say, played behind Alonso. Granero is not the fastest player, and to avoid him getting caught out of position upfront, he played behind Alonso. This gave Alonso more freedom to roam forward. The more upfront Alonso gets, the more chances we create. Mou doesn’t agree with me and will probably never play Granero again. Mou wants a physically strong partner for Alonso ala Lass/Khedira. The price to pay for that is less creative passing.

    Good luck for you guys tomorrow. I just want to see some EPL ass kicked please 🙂

    • blitzen
      March 7, 2011

      Thanks, Bassam, I’ll be fine. Just having a nasty allergic reaction.

      As I mentioned above, neither Fontas nor Bartra can play tomorrow, since they are playing right now for the B team. Although I definitely think Fontas at least should be promoted this summer.

      I don’t know much about Granero, tbh. He doesn’t play much, does he? He looked good yesterday, though. Agree about the passing, sometimes you guys looked almost Barca-like yesterday. Up front, anyway. It was the first time in ages that I can actually say I enjoyed watching RM play. Ozil in particular was a joy to see.

      • March 7, 2011

        Exactly. Wenger always does that crap. “Zee player, ee was shot at close range wizz a bazooka, et ees dead. But, um, we will not rule him out for the weekend. It is a big match, and we will see.”

    • soccermomof4
      March 7, 2011

      Thanks Bassam! Luck to you on Wed. (My, am I getting anti-EPL! and Wenger is ticking me off so much right now that it’s gonna be longer for me to get back on the gooner bandwagon after Tuesday (maybe never if they go through tomorrow—but I’m spiteful that way))).

    • March 7, 2011

      never really expected Arsenal to play B squad. Regardless of all news, i prefer to play their best squad too. not to show overconfidence as i am in no place to, but it’s for the sake of the competition we all wanna see. if we can only beat them because they have more injuries than us, we will eventually be beaten by some other team because we won’t get all the luck in the world.

      • soccermomof4
        March 7, 2011

        I prefer it to be against their best, too(no excuses). I’d prefer it more if we had our best as well. But half the reason I’m ticked at Wenger is because (when they ARE NOT playing us) I’m an Arsenal fan(gives me something to watch on Saturday morning while I’m waiting for the good games). Wenger plays half healed players far too often and they all too often get injured worse!

  86. Miguel
    March 7, 2011

    nolito! & another bartra assist. wow.

  87. blitzen
    March 7, 2011

    We need someone to take more long shots like that!

  88. blitzen
    March 7, 2011

    Nolito is making the case to be promoted. 😀

    • blitzen
      March 7, 2011

      His second one was a bit lucky (or unlucky if you are the GK) coming off the post, but he’ll take it!

    • March 7, 2011

      If you believe the Twitterverse, via @barcastuff, part of our contract offer to Nolito included first-team status. Wonder what, if anything, that means for Krkic?

      • Diego
        March 7, 2011

        It says more about Jeffren that it says about Krkic.

        • blitzen
          March 7, 2011

          ^ This.

          I suspect Jeffren will be out this summer and Nolito will take his spot.

  89. yonono
    March 7, 2011

    anyone smell a rat (or at least gamesmanship) with the inclusion of van persie in the arsenal squad?

    • Jim
      March 7, 2011

      Could be a double bluff – wanting us to set up for RVP then leaving him out and going the aerial route on us 🙂

      When you know the opposition has both CBs out you’re going to want to fire crosses into the box. Which is why I’d still rather have a proper CB like Milito who knows the position than Busi who has to think his way through it.

  90. Humphrey Bogart
    March 7, 2011

    This is really a dilemma here: I absolutly despise Chelsky but I adore David Luiz and his cute little mob of curly locks.

    • Blow-Grenade
      March 7, 2011

      I watched the Chelsea Man United match. David Luiz was a riot. Love that guy.

  91. March 7, 2011

    The defense won’t be huge issue if everyone is on. We played the CL final without Alves and Abidal, 35 year-old Sylvinho at LB, Puyi at RB, and Yaya at CB.

    With 98,000+ screaming cules, our fearless leader back on the bench, and our team ready to deixem some pells, we should go through, whether van Persie plays or not.

    Visca Barca!

    • Humphrey Bogart
      March 7, 2011

      Yeah, I remember that game a lot in the last days. But we had one big advantage in that game, we had Puyi: the rock, the one-man-firefighter-police-I kick your arse when you are falling asleep-force of nature that is our captain. Never was he missed that much.

  92. March 7, 2011

    Besides, Arsenal are quality and can hurt you any time, but didn’t they need a goal from an impossible angle and a defensive breakdown to score at home? It’ll be a different story at Camp Nou 😉

    • Eklavya
      March 7, 2011

      Kari, what happened to your poll? What were the results?

        • Eklavya
          March 7, 2011

          Did anyone write anything in the “other” option?

          • March 7, 2011

            If someone wants to know what sinus infections look like, there is Google Images. Just sayin’.

          • outerspacedout
            March 7, 2011

            I bet you did, Eklavya, and you just want Kari to say it.

  93. K_legit
    March 7, 2011

    Vete a Getafe
    – the Racing fans to Sergio Canales

  94. Jnice
    March 7, 2011

    The way this Guardian article tries to twist the words of Pep on Wilshere is disgraceful. Now every Arsenal fan is retweeting it and talking without knowing a thing.

    *http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/mar/07/pep-guardiola-jack-wilshere-arsenal

    Compare that two how soccernet portrays Pep’s words and you see the difference.

    *http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/890917/barcelona-boss-pep-guardiola-denies-arsenal-are-mentally-fragile?cc=5901

    • Jnice
      March 7, 2011

      Type in “wilshere” on twitter search and you’ll see what I mean. Arsenal fans have taken the Guardian’s suggestions and ran with it.

      • March 7, 2011

        I don’t care. If they don’t have critical thinking skills, then they can just keep on being headless sheep who can’t walk in a straight line. Yeah, sickness makes me irritable; what of it?

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 7, 2011

      this is Sheena’s birthday?

      happy birthday, feliç aniversari, feliz cumpleaños!! 😀

  95. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 7, 2011

    Wenger said RvP is definitely out for 3 weeks…
    but he make a ‘surprise’ comeback just one day before the match…
    it’s a miracle!! not…

    I remember a polling in Sport magazine,
    “do you believe RvP is injured?”
    more than half said no, it’s just a trick…

    so typical of Wenger…
    (why do you like Arsenal again, soccermomof4? LOL, I kid… :P)

    so freaking nervous… 🙁

    • soccermomof4
      March 7, 2011

      “(why do you like Arsenal again, soccermomof4? LOL, I kid… )”

      Same reason I love Barca and like the Spanish NT, style of play, nothing more. Actually, I don’t need an EPL team to make my sports life complete but I have friends who follow the EPL and having an EPL team to support makes that a little more interesting(and gives one something to watch on Saturday morning while one is waiting for the good stuff). Tried ‘pool(friends’ team) but I couldn’t do it. Arsenal has some of the “ooooh purdy” footy moments that I love. Our friends got us hooked on soccer and started us out with the EPL. Then they told us about this Messi guy. Came for Messi, stayed for Xavi( and Iniesta, and Dani, and Captain Caveman, and…)

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        March 7, 2011

        hahaha… 😛
        I can totally understand if someone loves Arsenal actually, despite their trophy drought, they really is more enjoyable to watch than any other team in EPL…

        but I’m just not a fan of Wenger… I like Kenny Dalglish or Carlo Ancelotti more… 🙂

  96. Helge
    March 7, 2011

    @ Isaiah: When will the preview be up? Did you have to edit the majority of it due to Wenger’s trick with RvP?

    • March 7, 2011

      Isaiah’s a little busy, but his preview will be up eventually (like later tonight). Kxevin’s posted a little sumthin’ sumthin’ until then.

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