Super Copa Preview: Athletic Bilbao – Barcelona; Sunday 4pm EST

First things first: it appears that there will be no TV coverage in the US of this match. Which is about as absurd as you get. I thought all the TV rights stuff had been resolved. It’s just that, well, no one expects a Spanish Inquisition. At best, we’ll be able to watch the game via a rojadirecta stream. I do not know if it is GolTV’s fault that they’re showing a Coppa Italia game between Napoli and Salernitana or if they’re doing so because they can’t show the Spanish Super Copa. Either way, I’m pissed.

Furthermore, it looks like Messi is set to miss the match, meaning our starting lineup will be missing at least two of its typical three starters (despite his never having played a match, I think that Ibrahimovic can be listed as a typical starter based on the fact that he’ll be starting the majority of the games when he his healthy). If you believe EMD, Henry is set to play, but I hope that he isn’t forced into the match as a desperation move. This is a two-legged affair and we should have all of our starters back for the second match (with the possible exception of Iniesta), meaning that we can afford to get them healthy for the season now.

I don’t think that Guardiola would risk an injured Henry, but would Henry risk an injured himself? I kind of think so. People call him soft, but I don’t buy it at all. I think he’s not only tough, but fiercely competitive. His inclusion in the squad would obviously bolster the attack and is a best-case scenario, but it’s not worth it if he’s going to damage himself for the regular season. I think that in the twilight of his career he’s realizing just how important it is for him to get continuous playing time, to prove to the fans that he is wearing the shirt with pride and fierce loyalty, but I don’t think it’s worth it if he’s even 99% instead of the required 100%.

If he doesn’t start, that would mean we might start a front three of Bojan, Pedro, and Jeffren, though I see it more likely that we’d start Gudjohnsen, especially if the latter is angling for a transfer away from the club. Our midfield options are solid despite Iniesta’s absence, so I don’t see Guddy starting there even though he was at his best against Chivas in the “4” role.

Here’s the squad lineup: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Xavi, Gudjohnsen, Bojan, Henry, Keita, Busquets, Maxwell, Abidal, The Yaya, Pedro!, JDS, Fontàs, Muniesa, Jeffren.

Note the obvious absence of Victor Sanchez and of course the absences of the injured Márquez, Iniesta, Messi, and Ibrahimovic. It’s always exciting to see the young guns getting named to the squad, but will they play? With only 3 subs to work with (this is not a preseason game, people!), Guardiola has his work cut out for him coming up with who to start and who to sub on. Naturally it depends on how the game goes, but I’d hope that JDS, Muniesa, and Maxwell get time on the field tomorrow. Which, interestingly enough, means I don’t think Guddy will play unless we go down 2-0.

So, here’s my lineup prediction: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, The Yaya, Xavi, Keita, Henry, Bojan, Pedro!

It’s a step down from a lineup that includes Iniesta, Messi, and Ibra, of course, but that’s still a lethal group of guys. If we want to go 4-1-2-3 like we play when Iniesta is on the field (Hector, you’ll have to address that statement), we could start JDS and have him play there or we could put Busi there and see what our gangly Foulable Colt can do for us. Either way, we’re going to have a battle on our hands since Athletic really wants this one.

Here is their squad list: Iraizoz, Amorebieta, Ribeiro, Yeste, Ustaritz, Iraola, Aitor Ocio, Koikili, Etxeberria, Orbaiz, Gurpegui, Toquero, Susaeta, Xabi Castillo, Oscar de Marcos, Llorente. That’s a good group of players, but they’re missing influential midfielder Javi Martínez. Llorente is obviously a beast in the middle and it’s never easy to go to San Mames and come out on top, but Javi Martínez’s absence is a big bonus for Barça. I expect a fairly cagey affair and Guardiola won’t want his players to get too tuckered out and Joaquín Caparrós won’t want to have his boys cut to shreds quite like they were in the Copa del Rey final.

So here’s what you’ve been waiting for throughout the entire summer, my first official prediction of the year: 2-2, goals by Xavi and Bojan.

And now for something new that I will be continuing throughout the year, kickoff time throughout the world:

Local/Spanish time: 10pm
New York/EST: 4pm
Los Angeles/PST: 1pm
Hong Kong: 4am, Monday August 17
Sydney: 6am, Monday August 17
India: 2:30am, Monday August 17
*If you would like your city/country included in this list, please let me know via an email.

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


  1. jnelson
    August 15, 2009

    @cesc pistol i know im late but thanks for your comment. well done.

  2. Eduard
    August 15, 2009

    We’re not going to go blazing saddles. I expect a 4-2-1-3 line up with Abidal-Pique-Puyol-Alvel-Busi-The YAYA- Xavi-Jeffren-Boja-Pedro!

    1-1 final score…Pedro! scores for us, Llorente for them

  3. Jnice
    August 15, 2009

    No Henrique. I feel bad for him. Pep really didn’t give him a fair chance in my opinion, but that is how he rolls.

  4. ballbeav
    August 15, 2009

    guardiola said today that cesc will not be coming to us. he said “he is a very interesting player but now he must play a year mroe in england.”

  5. ballbeav
    August 15, 2009

    about henrique, (and why fontas and muniesa are being chosen instead) guardiola said,

    “in this exact moment i prefer to take with me people that have more assimilated certain mechanisms that are demanded of a ‘central’ of Barca.”

    “He is a young boy that has very interesting qualities, he is very aggresive defensively, but a player so young needs to play minutes. Because of that, in the next two weeks we will have to decided if it is better that he is loaned to some team … so that he can continue his development.”

    (this last part i missed a bit on, i dont know what he means by “que esté mas cerca”)

    (“si es mejor que vaya cedido en algún equipo que esté más cerca para poder seguir su evolución”)

  6. Vj
    August 15, 2009

    Great! great idea to put in the start times for different zones..

    Feel bad about Henrique.. he should’ve atleast been given the chances Caceres got..

  7. Eduard
    August 15, 2009

    maybe he means “cerca”(nearer) to becoming a starter, or reaching a certain point in his developement

  8. ballbeav
    August 15, 2009

    yeah i know “mas cerca” means “closer”….but it’s like, *who* closer to *what*? a team closer to his skill level? anyways….

  9. Eduard
    August 15, 2009

    that’s probably what it means, “a team closer to his skill level”.

  10. Achraf
    August 15, 2009

    No he means a club closer to barcelona so they will be able to monitor his performanes like another liga side. It would be insulting if he was saying barca re too good for him lol

  11. Eduard
    August 15, 2009

    I left Barcelona when i was young and sometimes don’t translate things right. But thanks for clarifying that.

  12. Achraf
    August 15, 2009

    No its not a translation error it is definetly not clear if you read it on its own but in context its simple hes saying a closer club. Your translation was good eduard

  13. Jnice
    August 15, 2009

    So this means that surely either Muniesa or Fontas or both will be promoted, right?

  14. Achraf
    August 15, 2009

    Ya probably, but if not directly promoted then definetly backup if we ever have an injury crisis like the one last year one toure had to play CB so we won’t be seeing the yaya playing there this year.

    OMG just realized sumthin The YAYA and his brother “The KOLO?? are both playing in the gamper trophy so ya theres bound to be some geographical effect on the world sumthin to do with gravity or some space hole opening up but what do i know im not a scientist

  15. Jnice
    August 15, 2009

    I think The YAYA will most likely be booed in Sam Mames tomorrow despite his apology, because of the “corte de mangas” gesture he made to the Bilbao fans after he scored in the Copa del Rey final.

    Oh well, I’ll bet he’ll eat it up.

  16. August 15, 2009

    I imagine that booing The Yaya is like poking a hungry lion with a stick. Seems like a good idea at the time, but once you’re in the lion, you reconsider.

  17. ballbeav
    August 15, 2009

    aha achraf good point, as in, “we dont want to send him to germany where we will only be able to see videos of him, it might be nice to be able to watch him in La Liga…”

    i think pep knows damn well this is what will happen with henrique, it isnt a matter of making a decision in the next two weeks..

  18. Achraf
    August 15, 2009

    Vic san is also a goalkeeper ladies and gentleman.
    possibly the most versatile player ever.

  19. David
    August 15, 2009

    Wow, Isaiah, that “world kickoff time” bit at the end is extremely helpful! I hate converting local time (be it in England or Spain) to EST. So thanks for that!

  20. August 15, 2009

    1-1 Zlatan and the aformentioned Kolo.

    …and I don’t smell anymore.

  21. javacrab
    August 16, 2009

    Sometimes TVE Internacional show games of the Spanish National team or like la Supercopa unannounced. What is the best streaming video for a Mac users?

  22. Ramzi
    August 16, 2009

    I like the line up, Isaiah.

    I didnt take Henry injury seriously in the first place, I think it was the typical International-games-bluff. With the NT not so inneed for his service, they just let it go. He wouldnt have started a friendly before, and he wouldnt have to be in the squad list for this game. So if Pep felt like using him, he will play.

    Yet, if he didnt play, I thnk Guddy will be there. Pedro-Bojan, Jeff will be too much for this away game in Bilbao.

    I hope we see more changing positions between Yaya and Keita. This can be one of the add-ons for next season. It is needed. Unless of we will use Maxwell and Alves as full backs, with both Yaya and Keita covering.

  23. jnelson
    August 16, 2009

    heyy everyone WHY ARE WE PREDICTING A DRAW??? well…better than a loss i guess

  24. Jnice
    August 16, 2009

    2-0 to us. Goals by Henry and The YAYA.

  25. Mher
    August 16, 2009

    Bojan is itching for a goal tomorrow. The Kid needs it now to boost his confidence sky high for the upcoming season. With Henry aging and oft-injured(i hope not) he should get some serious wing minutes.

  26. Mher
    August 16, 2009

    Im sorry Isaiah, but is there an English formatted link to the fantasy league you set up? Sadly i cannot understand most of the spanish on the page, so im lost. Or you guys can tell me what to do, im not page-maneuvering savvy to get where i need to be if you know what i mean. Thanks. 🙂

  27. poipoi
    August 16, 2009

    may xavi hernandez do his thing 😉

  28. Helge
    August 16, 2009

    Mher, you can use and enter the URL there. It will translate the complete website and also every new part of it, as soon as you click on another link like “reglas” respectively “rules”.

    I agree with your line-up Isaiah, but personally I would like to see Maxwell as a starter. Though, Abidal is the more likely starter.
    Prediction: Bilbao 2-1 Barcelona, Pedro to score. And we will trash them in the Camp Nou 🙂

  29. ElShowDeJason (formerly known as Jason)
    August 16, 2009

    i’d like my City to be listed. Not because i really love San Diego (which i do), its more because i hate Los Angeles.

    San Diego/PST: 1pm

    Los Angeles/PST: 1pm

  30. ElShowDeJason
    August 16, 2009

    oops… name… there we go…

    I want Guddy to leave. Not because i don’t like him, but because i think that he has a lot to offer to some mid level Prem club. and that club has a lot (minutes) to offer him.

    Plus, players usually develop by bounds when they have to fill someone’s role. Messi after R10’s departure. Iniesta after Deco. Hopefully JdS after Guddy.

  31. Alexis
    August 16, 2009

    A draw?…A defeat?
    I believe that despite playing with Bojan and /or Pedro!, our team has more potential than the “Leones”.
    I agree the crowd will be roaring, and it will be difficult. Furthermore, we must try to avoid injuries. Bilbao players are not really well-known for their fair play.

    This year’s Supercopa is just a rip off, bearing in mind that Barca deserves the trophy as a Copa del Rey and Liga Champions. These two matches are no good for the team as there is a slight chance of losing and a huge one of injuries.

  32. Randal
    August 16, 2009

    Buzz is, that all the drama by Laporta involving Cesc was just for himself to acquire a pre-agreement with him before the Rosell guy… But Txiki amidst all this, has nevertheless been working to try & sign other reinforcements silently. Pep’s statement yesterday is being cited as the proof for this 🙂

  33. Cesc Pistol
    August 16, 2009

    I’m not sure whether I’m interested in watching it or not. Feels like another boring friendly somehow…The timing doesn’t help either.

  34. August 16, 2009

    Well, yeah, the timing for you, CP, doesn’t help. 2:30am…ugh. But isn’t that when most of the league games are for you?

  35. JeffP
    August 16, 2009

    Damn the complicated and ridiculous Spanish TV rights BS! It’s keeping me from some quality hang out time with Isaiah!

    Oh well. I’m with CP on this one. Just feels like another friendly. I know it’s for silverware and all, but I’m just not feeling excited about it. Maybe that’ll change around game time.

  36. eklavya
    August 16, 2009

    YAY multiple times!! Add Geneva too…I’ll email later though…

    I say we lose 2-1 😀
    Remember how we started last season?

  37. August 16, 2009

    But isn’t Geneva in the same time zone as Barcelona? So there’s no need to put up multiple cities in the same time zone.

    Jason, I’ll change it to San Diego next time just for you.

    I’m adding another feature to the Schedule page, which is a direct link to the Preview, Liveblog, and Review of each match that we cover. That’ll make it easier to go back and see what we were thinking and also to cherry pick some memorable quotes to hang over our heads.

  38. ElShowDeJason
    August 16, 2009

    yes! Your the man Isaiah.

    i agree that they should just give us the trophy.

    btw. Liverpool started with a loss. 1-2 to Tottenham

  39. August 16, 2009

    I tweeted about that, Jason. Tottenham’s first goal was brilliant, Liverpool got a penalty, and then Tottenham got a header goal from a freekick. Liverpool looked sloppy and uninterested.

    Liveblog coming shortly, folks. Should kickoff at 3:30 to give us some prep time.

  40. eklavya
    August 16, 2009

    Oh yeah thats right, Isaiah.
    Thank god there’s someone who was there when they were distributing brains 🙂

  41. eklavya
    August 16, 2009

    Yay Liveblog! 😀
    Boo I’ll be asleep 😡

  42. Achraf
    August 16, 2009

    Hey isaiah canyou please tell me where you find confirmed lineups. I always want to know lineups before games start and never can. Not only barcelona lineups any site which gives this information.
    Thx in advance

    Also when are they confirmed like an hour or so before the game?

  43. Cesc Pistol
    August 16, 2009

    Eklavya you don’t watch matches live?

    Now I’m a bit more interested in the match. Watched some stuff from last season. Always enough to get one excited. So this liveblog thing, it’s like a chat during match times right?

    And where is this multiple time zone thing you speak of?

  44. eklavya
    August 16, 2009

    I do…its just that I’ve been sleeping at 3:00 AM quite often in the last two days 😀

    Yeah the LiveBlog is a chat.Its great fun!! Too bad I’ll miss it 😀 (grrr im still not back in Europe).

    The time zone is at the end of the preview.

    Oh and do people still want to talk here? I know what Kxevin says about old threads not “dead” but thats for us cool people riiiiight? 😀

  45. ElShowDeJason
    August 16, 2009

    Isaiah, my TwitterMobile is on the fritz

  46. Soto
    August 16, 2009

    So I see, Isaiah, love for the San Diego boy, and hate for us Angelinos. It’s so easy to dish on Los Angeles. 🙂

    Let the Jason have the time zone. Those San Diegans need something. 🙂

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