Breath. In, pause, now out. Just let the air enter and leave smoothly, no hurries, no worries. Find your cave, don’t think about Marla.
Why the zen master approach? Because the league is back, baby, and it’s time to get into the season’s groove, but it’s too early for cardiac arrest. It is, however, time to do those breathing exercises and get ready to let loose on the world, one game at a time, at our miraculously high-decible level. This, of course, is what we’ve been waiting for. This is, naturally, what makes us so obsessive: Barça! Barça! Baaaarça! Hell yeah.
I do not subscribe to the idea that the past is dead, that we are obligated to win, that we deserve to win. We aren’t and we don’t. But we are obligated to play well, to play our brand of the truly beautiful game. In the process we will score goals and win games and that, of course, is the point, but it is also a fun bonus for us cules, who, day-in-day-out dream of tight passing triangles and one-two combinations more often than is healthy. I walk down hallways and play imaginary passes to imaginary teammates around coworkers who have no idea how badly they were just schooled. It’s thrilling. And not the least bit lame. You do it, too.
Given that we have 7 games over the next 22 days, we are about to enter a relentless cycle of previews, liveblogs reviews, tactical discussions, and back to previews. Are you ready? Because I am. If you’re not, look at this. DID YOU JUST LOOK AT THAT BECAUSE I DID AND IT IS FUCKING ON. Holy Christ, I feel like CaptainCatalunyaViscaElBarca, but without the fiddle.
Like I said, breath. In, out.
12pm. Noon. Only a few more hours. Only a few things getting in the way (work, sleep, that whole pesky feeding of oneself). I’m no William Wallace, I realize that, but regardless of my speech-making abilities, I believe that, yes, we will beat the English. Wait, sorry, getting ahead of myself here. Getafe is next, right? Right. Okay. They’re from the capital, not the sun-soaked shores of Her Majesty’s domain where they play open, beautiful passing games where the ball rarely leaves the ground.
Getafe. They lead the league, having scored more goals than anyone else (4) in their opening match against Racing Santander, and, obviously, enter on a one-match winning streak. Roberto Soldado is the current pichichi with a hat trick (if he plays like that every week, he’ll wrap up the individual trophy by Halloween!). It’s a different game against Barça of course, but it is after an international break that saw the likes of Messi and Xavi put in 180 minutes. Getafe, unfortunately for them, don’t have a FIFA virus and come in well rested, which could help them if they come out pressing because they won’t tire particularly quickly.
The good news for Barça–the best news–is that Andres Iniesta is back. Our own little Ghostface Killah should get his season debut against Getafe, though I don’t expect him to start after three full months on the sidelines. Supposedly he is 100%, so it’s possible that he gets the start and plays with a fairly short leash, for fitness reasons. If we’re not starting Messi or Xavi because of fatigue–certainly a possibility with Inter looming on Wednesday (!)–then Don Andres could get the call to direct the midfield. That wouldn’t be a problem even if he weren’t 100%, of course.* Chyngynskiy could also play a part in the match, though I do not expect him to start.
The bad news is that Messi probably won’t start because of his late return from internationals. Which, of course, begs the question why on earth are these matches scheduled so close together? I hate breaks in the domestic season for internationals. I really do. I think the FIFA calendar should be set up very differently, but I suppose that’s fodder for a different post. Bojan is out too, which I think means that Pedro! grabs another start. More bad news is that Marquez is still out, which means that Puyol will probably have to start.
The squad: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Chygrynskiy, Maxwell, Abidal, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Sergio Busquets, The Yaya, Ibrahimovic, Messi, Henry, Pedro!, Jeffren
Predicted Lineup: Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Pique, Maxwell, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Jeffren, Ibra, Pedro!
This is, obviously, not the best lineup we can field, but with Iniesta, Messi, and Henry as potential subs, we can rescue any points that are left on the table after 60 minutes. Since this won’t be an easy match, we’re going to have to take it to them early and often and that is where we’re going to miss Bojan a little. Jeffren isn’t as polished as Bojan (and Bojan isn’t that polished yet), so he won’t be able to deal with some of the situations quite as well, but he did really well in preseason and I hope that he can pull it off.
Of course, there’s a high probably that this game will start with the same lineup that I’ve predicted. It’s pretty much assured that it won’t happen. But I will assume it will.
So, official prediction: 1-2, goals by Ibra and Pedro! So stoked!
Liveblog absolutely happening for this one. I’ll be there, rooting on my RayRay and screaming obscenities at passing Madridistas I swear are everywhere in my neck of Brooklyn. By the way, I am tentatively planning on being at Nevada Smiths for next week’s Atletico match if you’d like to join me. I’ll let you know closer to game day, but consider it a real possibility that you can meet your idol next Saturday! The screaming teeny-bopper girls might get in your way, though, they love me.
Local (Madrid/Spain): 6pm
New York/EST: 12pm noon
San Diego/PST: 9am
Sydney, Australia: 2am Sunday
Singapore: 12am midnight Sunday (Sat night/Sun morning)
India: 8:30pm (is this right? I’m having trouble finding out if India is 2.5 or 3.5 hours ahead of Spain)
*FIFA player ratings are out and Iniesta is an 88 and Xavi is an 87…are the EA guys serious? They’re twins, people! They should both be 99s! But they do understand that Cronaldo is worse than Iniesta: he gets an 87. W00t.