Categorized | Champions League, Preview

When the Beast Within is not Enough: Barça – Shakhtar [UPDATED WITH LINKS!]

CL Preview: Barcelona – Shakhtar Donetsk, Wednesday, 2:45pm, Fox Soccer Plus (HD)

They’re weak. They’re strong. They’re wookiees. It doesn’t much matter how you approach Shakhtar because they remain an enigma. Yeah, they lost 5-1 at the Emirates (where Barcelona also lost, if you’ve forgotten), but they also beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Donbass. And they beat Roma 2-3 at the Stadio Olimpico and then crushed them 3-0 back in Donetsk. Weak? Hardly. Full of wookiees? Definitely.

With Guardiola kinda freaking out about this match, I think it’s time I enter into full blown Holy bologna, Batman mode. But I’m too worried. We’ve got injuries, we’ve got a weak defense, we’ve got problems. And did I mention they’re giant, hairy beasts from outer space? They’re like 8-feet tall, even the Brazilians. They have giant fangs! They’re not just bunnies! They’re horrible killing machines come to gain some sort of revenge for the UEFA Super Cup. And I, for one, am slightly terrified.

I had a conversation in the bar this weekend with a few fellow Barça supporters and one of them espoused the idea that Chygrynskiy is nothing to worry about because he didn’t “make” it at FCB. Only he kind of did, if the reports suggesting Guardiola wanted to keep him are real. But does it even matter? Even if he wasn’t improving throughout the year and gaining in confidence and working on his Catalan, does that make him not dangerous? He’s the Ukrainian Bill Brasky! He’s a 2 ton man mountain who can palm a medicine ball. And he rides motorcycles cause he’s too badass for cars even though professional sports contracts almost always exclude such activities. Chewie is all sorts of not giving a crap.

I think, in the end, I’m more worried about thinking ahead to the (now confirmed) specter of Real Madrid in the semifinals. Thanks a lot, Spurs, you little [edited for content; seriously, I didn’t even know that was physically possible. -ed], way to put that tie to bed early. The match itself with Shakhtar is somewhat secondary to my thinking that Barça supporters are often forgetful of our away form in the CL and disdainful of opponents who deserve our respect.

This match is a must-win. We will not win in the Ukraine. That much is a given. If you think we’ll somehow be the first team to defeat Shakhtar at their house ever, your rocker is off it’s rocker. They’ve never not won in the Donbass. How insane is that? In their last 8 home games they’re 8-0-0 (19GF, 2GA) and never more than one goal allowed. Just twice they’ve managed only 1 goal at home too. They’re not particularly worse away: 8-0-1 (18GF, 5GA) in their last 9. [Please note that these stats are taken from here and I’m not connected to the internet so I can’t totally check these, but they’re guides not specifics anyway].

They’re good.

Kari has profiled several of their players and tactics and I don’t disagree with her assessments, though I do think Barça will “imponer su ley”—that is, will wrest control of the match and Shakhtar will sit very deep at the Camp Nou and look for a 0-0 draw. That said, they’ll break on us like water balloon in a nail shop and with Srna, Willian, Jadson, and Luiz Adriano, there’s a lot pace on the field. Can those 3 Brazilians play spectacular defense, though, is the real question. If Messi is 100% (which I kind of doubt) or if Pedro (who is back!) is capable of putting in 60-75 minutes we have a chance to take advantage of their willingness to counter, but only if our centerbacks are imperious. And yes, that means Busi being tremendous.

There is no polite way to put this: against Villarreal, Busi and Pique were collectively less valuable than a pile of Zimbabwean dollars in a bonfire. Sure, Pique won us the game off a Busi flick, but barf on a stick in mud did we deserve to get scored on. Molt gracies, Valdes, in case you didn’t know we were grateful for the 8 point lead. Obviously not all that fault should be placed on Sergio and Gerrard, but I am definitely singling them out for their lack of pace, inability to read the coming attacks from deep, and for Messi’s sake, Pique, please stop sticking your foot out to ward off a pass when you could just turn into it and jet it out of danger. You whiff entirely too often.

Frothing at the mouth would probably help. Let’s do that. But will it be enough? Letting out the beast within only goes so far. We can only have brain aneurysms so many times in a year. So, ladies and gentlemen, given that our enemies are wookiees, our only sure hope, is obviously the Chewbacca defense. If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must beat Shakhtar. I rest my case.

[In case you missed it, I added a link I forgot to the bunny mention above (here) and time time (Wednesday, 2:45pm) and channel in the US (Fox Soccer Plus).]

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128 Responses to “When the Beast Within is not Enough: Barça – Shakhtar [UPDATED WITH LINKS!]”

  1. Miguel says:

    Zimbabwean dollars? Pedro’s back? Wookiees? Speaking of Wookiees, what’s up with the Crackovia site? I heard Chignasty & Puyi’s sheep were gonna have a play date.

  2. David says:

    Anyone know on which channel this match will be broadcast live? I know (read: think) Fox has the rights to CL games, and they usually show one game on FSC and the other on either Fox Deportes or MSG+ (in my area,at least). But for some inexplicable reason I don’t see the Barca game being broadcast until 5:00 on any of those channels.

    Instead they seem to be showing Chelsea-Man Utd on two of them and a replay of Inter-Schalke on the other..

    • David says:

      Well, with a little more research, I believe it’s being shown on Fox Soccer Plus. Which I don’t have. Which I think merits an angry email to Fox.

      • Isaiah says:

        You are correct: Fox Soccer Plus (will update this page to reflect that). But your email will be worthless. ManU-Chelsea will ALWAYS be played over any other matchup.

        • David says:

          I understand that Fox favors English teams over “less worthy” sides. But I’m disappointed at the fact that they chose to show this match on a paid-for channel, when they have MSG+ and FoxDeportes sitting wide open. I mean, a replay of today’s match over Barca-Shakhtar? Seriously..?

      • Miguel says:

        If you’re an Arsenal fan you kind of have to get FSC + to catch all their games. I have Time Warner and the package with FSC + comes with my skateboarding channel, Fuel TV, so it’s totally worth it. :)

    • Miguel says:

      FSC + is showing it live according to my tv listing thing. I don’t understand why Fox Deportes isn’t.

    • Jnice says:

      I don’t have Fox Soccer Plus, either. Gonna have to watch it on a stream…. sigh.

      I thought it would surely be broadcast on Fox Deportes considering Barcelona, a Spanish speaking team, was playing.

      Stupid Chelsea-Man Utd ridiculousness.

    • Kari says:

      I know in Canada, it’s on Sportsnet (all of them). Can’t help with American TV Listings. :(

  3. Lev says:

    anybody know at what time the game is?

  4. ooga aga says:

    best preview youve written isaiah, except what happened to your old previews, with the practical info, such as the time and date of the game, the channel where it will be shown in the US, predicted lineups, predicted scorelines and goal scorers, etc? and i want pictures and history of donetsk when we play the away match! you owe me dammit! /runs out of the room crying and wailing

  5. ElShowDeJason says:

    “If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must beat Shakhtar. I rest my case.”

    Well… we’re fucked…
    because most everyone knows that Chewbacca, as well as most Wookies are from Kashyyk.

    Endor is the home planet of the Ewoks.

  6. BarcaGirl_Indo says:

    I feel nothing but bad and pessimistic… *sigh*

    seriously, Isaiah’s preview and Pep’s press conference is scare the hell out of me…

    “I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
    thanks, Pep… very calming… :(

  7. soccermomof4 says:

    Messi’s so-so, Pep’s freakin’ out, and now Isaiah’s freaking out. We’re playing wookies who have gone to the dark side, killer rabbits with fangs, and their Brazilians are bigger than our Brazilians.

    At least Quica gets a play date with Queca :)

    We are better than they are(our Brazilians are better than their giant Brazilians, our flea’s better than their rat), I hope that’s enough!

    I’ll be needing a stream too (don’t wanna wait ’til 5:00). I only get GOLTV, FSC, and ESPN3.

    3-0 Iniesta hat trick and he dedicates each goal to Valeria

  8. Jnice says:

    My little ramble on the match:

    I’ve been saying this way too often lately, but we need to take our chances tomorrow. Dani is a big part of that, he needs to stop playing games when he gets into the box and make up his mind. He’s messed around too many times this season… did it 3 times against Villarreal. He is still nice, though.

    But yeah, we really need to kill the game off so that we can rest a few players in Ukraine. That’s going to be an extremely difficult match although Srna, Luiz Adriano, Raţ, Chygrynskiy, Mkhitaryan and Olexiy Gai are all one yellow away from suspension, so they will probably be missing a few for the 2nd leg.

    And Pedro HAS to play. The wings are going to be crucial this match. And Messi doesn’t seem to be 100% fit still (he said he didn’t feel good against Villarreal), so I’m not quite sure if he’ll start. In any case, Iniesta has to step up and be more assertive like we know he can.

    I highlight the Dani bit only because he’s as guilty as anyone when it comes to us wasting chances. He gets into great positions, but he’ll change his mind or hesitate at the last second. Against Villarreal for example, he has a chance to square it on the ground for an easy goal, but he elects to put it high in the air for no apparent reason. Later he beats is man, then gets caught in two minds and the chance is gone.

    This has to stop.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo says:

      agree about Dani… he is so wasteful in the penalty box…
      his finishing is a crime… well, so did Villa…
      how many goals Dani has now had he finished those chances?

      he couldn’t finish easy chances, but he made a spectacular first touch goal against Getafe… weird…

      if we didn’t take our chances and get a draw or even lose at Camp Nou,
      I probably need to pull out another “Jnice” action…

  9. fcbfandrivel says:

    I am hoping Messi saying he is still not at 100% is just to stop the Costa Rica football association from collectively frothing at the mouth. Call me an eternal optimist. He didn’t really look to be in too much discomfort against Villarreal, but obviously he knows best. And maybe an inform Pedro will inspire Villa to find the space between goalposts and not be offside doing it. Maybe Busi will go the entire game without conceding a PK or scoring an own goal and Xaviniesta will play like Xaviniesta and Alves/Adriano might actually get their crosses right (well okay, that’s a stretch). Too much of panicking over last 2 days is actually making me just the tiniest bit optimistic. Let’s hope for the best!

  10. blaunero says:

    Being that our victory at their stadium is quite unlikely, the match tomorrow will probably settle the tie. If Shakhtar get a draw (which is what I think the result will be, esp. when I consider Lucescu’s presence in the bench) then the ball will be in their court and we’ll be that close to being eliminated. They’ll not allow us many chances and they’ll look to exploit the gaps we leave on the flanks and the lack of pace from our makeshift central defense.
    I hope for the best but like Pep and so many others I am pessimistic about tomorrow.

    • Ryan says:

      We always create chances! Even in the 0-2 defeat to Hercules we created a ton of goal-scoring opportunities. It’s whether we finish them or not that will decide things.

  11. Eduard says:

    WE MUST KEEP OUR COMPOSURE!!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgRp-CZ1UDc

    BUT seriously, this team is highly underrated, they’re just as motivated, they have the talent, and they have a style of play that’s perfect against the style we have.

    We need to put away our chances, but most importantly we can’t allow them to score. We haven’t hit form yet, this is the game start hitting all cylinders; If we don’t we loose.

  12. barca96 says:

    Really disappointed with Spurs.
    Now EE can rest their players. sigh.

    Did that ROnaldo really look like it was dedicated to his baby son?
    Really??? It really didn’t look like it. Maybe it was a dedication to his new beau who has a rather big….. :lol:

  13. hammeronmessi says:

    i really really wonder how the fans of our team can be so pessimistic?

    It may be a tough game,may be not,but them the faith.imagine the atmosphere at camp nou with so many negative cules.its in the blood of the most cules-the pessimism.

    @jnice
    fully agree on dani.he got in to wonderful positions and either he dribbles too much or cant make out what to do?and bam the oppurtinity is gone.

    • barca96 says:

      He is always looking for a pass.
      I wish that he would just blast a shot to the goal and even if the gk
      blocks it, we have many players to get the rebound.

  14. hammeronmessi says:

    mistake,mistake.

    The line will be have faith on them.

  15. hammeronmessi says:

    before going to our CL awayday blues,here is the scoreline of our CL knock-out matches under PEP.

    Season 08 09
    lyon 1 we 1
    we 5 lyon 2

    we 4 munich 0
    munich 1 we 1

    we 0 blues 0
    blues 1 we 1

    season 09 10
    vfb 1 we 1
    we 4 vfb 0

    fabregas 2 we 2
    we 4 bendtner 1

    inter 3 we 1
    we 1 inter 0

    season 10 11

    vv 1+arshavin 1 we 1
    we 3 referee 1

    so we have played 7 ties in KO phase,only 1 time we had to play the 1st leg at home.other times we didnt go for the jugular cause we know we have the comfort of the camp nou in the 2nd leg.its like we played in a 3rd gear mode.

    But if (a big if,i think we dont need a if)we need a result at the donbass arena then my team will break the away day jinx.

    Point to be noted when we needed an away day result the only time we did that.which was a fucking disgrace accorgding to a certain ivorian.

    Prediction

    WE 5 They 2.

    • PhepheSa says:

      I agree, if we have to go there and get a result i believe we can. We have not been put under pressure to have to win the second leg except for the chelsea game and even they with everyone behind the ball couldn’t pull it off.

  16. hammeronmessi says:

    @96
    we dont blast.we pass the ball to the net.

  17. hammeronmessi says:

    i dont get it.
    So EE can rest their players before classico.sO what?

    We can rest our players before the Cdr final if we win against almeria.

    Its their morbo to gain something from the liga classico.not ours

  18. BarcaGirl_Indo says:

    -http://www.totalbarca.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/111-480×600.jpg-

    Captain Caveman can’t look more better than that! :D

  19. Miguel says:

    http://crackovia.tv3.cat/sites/crackovia.tv3.cat/files/imagecache/foto/CKV%20PGM%2098.jpg

    Worth the wait. What did Mourinho do with Charlie? ¡Árbitro, falta. Ay! For those of you whose comprehension of the offside rule is still a bit foggy, no need to worry, teh Ramos and Ozil break it down for you. ;)

  20. Jnice says:

    Jonathan Wilson on the match: http://t.co/FS56LxH

    • Miguel says:

      If Messi plays as a false nine dropping deep away from the Shakhtar centre-backs, he will be moving into an area occupied by two holding players. They will, admittedly, also be covering for Shakhtar’s two highly aggressive full-backs, Dario Srna and Razvan Rat, and looking to close down the breaks of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, but it won’t be easy for Messi to find space in that area 20-30 yards outside the penalty area.

      I’m worried about how Adriano is gonna deal with Razvan. Much like how Shakhtar’s dms cover for their fullbacks, I hope Mascherano makes sure he does the same for Barca’s leftback. I think he’ll do just that, but then Shakhtar’s being adept at switching play comes into effect. This game won’t be easy.

      I just read Ramzi’s article. Maybe playing Pedrito on the left would be the best thing to do. I hope he really is fit.

  21. outerspacedout says:

    For the Spurs game, I was sure it would either be a blowout or a shock. The one thing I was sure of was that Madrid wouldn’t get a narrow win, they’d either thrash Spurs to bits or screw up. 4-0 wasn’t unexpected.

    Schalke at the San Siro was though. WOW. I was pretty much in disbelief flipping from Spurs to that game and seeing Schalke leading 4-2 and then 5-2. On one hand, I really dislike Inter. On the other, I prefer them in the final far more than one of the two English horses *snicker, snicker*

    I got the same commentator many of you guys mentioned in an earlier thread. The one who went from ‘Spurs’ to ‘we, I’m sorry but as an Englishman I have to say we, something something’ and full-on cheerleading. It was halfway between hilarious and irritating, especially when he, as Jnice I think mentioned, praised the ref for not giving what looked to me like a penalty, and then seconds later got furious at the ref for not carding Ramos for a blatant bodycheck on Bale saying it was probably his first mistake in the match.

    Admittedly they did agree that Crouch’s sending off was deserved (stupid as it was). Speaking of which, what the commentator said when talking about players going to ground WAS saying that Spurs players shouldn’t be making diving tackles, not that Madrid players were going to ground too easily- I saw a discussion over that in that earlier thread too.

    Bale looked dangerous. Probably by far the most dangerous player for Spurs on the pitch. Spurs as a whole were rather pathetic though, especially after Crouch got sent off and then they were good for a while then completely fell apart. But EE were also quite impressive. They were active, they pressed well, they seemed full of urgency, they were focused.

    I’m not that worried about tonight’s game. In the past three years, whenever people have been doubting Barcelona, they have responded in spectacular fashion. Whether in-game doubts (Club World Cup final, CL final in 08/09 after the first few minutes were all United, semi-final against Chelsea, conceding first in the 6-2, Valencia at half-time when Henry came on and Messi scored a hat-trick, and so on) or pre-game doubts (our CL home legs, Madrid at the Bernabeu in 08/09 off the back of their amazing form, CL final with both our full-backs out). And we seem to reserve our most spectacular results for the big games (Sevilla 5-0 how many times, Madrid 5-0 and 6-2, Bayern 4-0, United 2-0, Arsenal 4-1 and 3-1). We are a team that pull out ridiculous levels of performance when it is most urgently needed, on a regular basis. So I’m confident.

    I am worried about playing Madrid so many times in a few weeks though. I think we’ll win in the league, and probably the Copa, but I have a sort of nasty feeling about the semis if we do make it through, in the sense that that one eventual Madrid win might happen in the crucial game that decides who goes to the final. I will feel sick if they win the CL or make the final at our expense. Sick for the whole next season, or at least until we kick their butt badly again later. But then again I probably shouldn’t be doubting.

    Paul was the Real Slim Pulpo. All the other pulpos are just fakers.

    • missingpage says:

      Your post pretty much sums up my feelings going into this game :)
      This isn’t the Barca of old this is one of the best teams in history and on the route to become the undisputed best team of all time. And games like the one today help us in achieving that goal.
      The fact that madrid is almost already there waiting in the semifinal it now seems to me as an added incentive, because if we come up to that challenge as well NO ONE will doubt us anymore and madrid and their press will be silenced for a veeery long time…this will be their last stand and a oportunity for us to show we are the new colossus…

      This is a challenge we and our boys on the pitch have to take…
      in the same way we did on November’s classico..

      So I say..
      Bring on Shakhtar…and then bring on madrid…and then bring on Chelsea

      • barca96 says:

        I think Mourinho will outsmart Pep once again in the CL.

        • outerspacedout says:

          That was a fluke. The 3-1 loss was a match where watching it I felt ‘oh well, this much is evening out for our luck against Chelsea’ cos there were that many things that went against us in the match, most of all the offside goal. That’s not even counting the volcano trip, which in itself isn’t a good enough excuse, and mostly the fact that we became complacent after opening the scoring. There is no chance in hell we would get complacent against Madrid OR especially against Mourinho in a CL semi again. They will be out for blood.

          We were missing one of our three best players in Iniesta, as well, and in Ibrahimovic (and an Ibrahimovic just returned from injury, at that) had little mobility up front in those ties at least. And with Maxwell and Keita as LB and LM, we had zero attacking threat from one whole flank.

          We won’t be complacent in the semis, we should have Iniesta and Villa starting as well as the extra options of closing out games with hard tackling a la Masch as well as adding attacking thrust down the left flank a la Adriano when compared to last season. Mourinho needed our entire left flank attacking threat being nullified, along with some luck and our complacency, to ‘outsmart’ us. On a level ground and against a focused us, there’s only so much he can do.

          • outerspacedout says:

            By ‘they will be out for blood’ I mean ‘Barcelona will be out for blood’. That exit, and Madrid’s history (they have more trophies than us, for one, historically), still rankles.

        • Ryan says:

          I’m not sure you can really say his beating Barca was due to “outsmarting” Pep… and it’s not like he can park the bus with EE anyway!

  22. outerspacedout says:

    Facebook page of Messi:

    Leo Messi
    ¡Hola! Les doy la bienvenida a todos ustedes.
    Gracias por la gran cantidad de mensajes que recibí. ¡Estoy muy contento!
    Desde ahora estaremos mas cerca a través de Facebook.

    Hola! Welcome to everyone. Thank you very much for the great number of messages that I have received. I am so excited! From now on we will be more closely connected through facebook.
    14 minutes ago

  23. Helge says:

    Ooh… can’t watch any of the videos due to copyright issues :(

    I’m not even sure if we should play Messi at all. He obviously isn’t fit yet, and just like CR was rather poor 2 and 1/2 weeks ago, I think an injured Messi doesn’t make sense against a tough team such as Shakhtar. But who could replace him???
    Very difficult decision to make, for Pep and Leo.

  24. Roz says:

    Messi on Facebook?! Now I have seen it all.

  25. Jim says:

    One for the doubters. Who in our team would you want to replace with one of Shaktar’s ? If the answer is nobody or maybe one then why the pessimism? There’s an awful lot of preparing the way for saying “I told you so” in case things go badly going on, imo. That’s not to say it’ll be an easy game – especially if Messi doesn’t make it.

    Btw, Sky reporting Chiggy’s a doubt. Shame for him if he doesn’t make it as I like the way he has conducted himself over the piece.

    Finally, there has been a lot of talk about how we can’t win over there. If we have about 65% possession ( which we will ) are you really saying we won’t create enough chances to win a match where we have to? After that it’s down to taking them. As usual, it’s all about us. If we play to our best I genuinely don’t think anyone can beat us. If we don’t we’re vulnerable.

    • mei says:

      Jim , I only think you are wrong about the “I told you so” thought.
      Cules throughout history have been amazingly pessimistic , and now that we already won the league we probably miss the comfort of being sad, in a way.
      Plus guardiola wants to bring as much attention as he should to this tie, and exaggerates how good this shakhtar team is. of course they are good , they reached this qualification round afterall , but were better , much much better.
      And I dont buy the ” no team has won in their stadium for x number of games” either. If we have to , we will win them convincingly at their home as well.

    • Ramzi says:

      Our role in match previews is to create suspense. You cant do that by telling how Messi can turn anyone apart ;)

      Now regarding the squads quality, in the CL its not about the best Squad, but a squad that is good enough to cause damage. I do believe Shakhtar squad is quality. If they keep this squad together for some years I can see “Red Star” adventure repeated again by them.

      As for the “I told you so” part, I said it before the season starts that I cant see this Barca squad having enough resources to win the CL. Individual brilliance is something we can count on to make the difference, but will that happen all the time? Me doubt it, though I will have no problem if the team proves me wrong.

      • Jim says:

        I take your point about the previews, Ramzi. I was more referring to the comments.

        It isn’t really about squads tonight. It’s about the 11 plus subs who are used. Would you replace any of our first eleven with one of theirs? I agree that they may do well in years to come but maybe not winning the CL. You have to get past too many top teams to do that.

        Our squad is small, no doubt about that. However, so far they have done everything asked of them and, assuming Messi’s injury isn’t serious, we look like winning la Liga and being able from now on to give time to the fringe players. I don’t think there is any real reason to be pessimistic atm. If we’re pessimistic now what happens if we go out of the CL and lose the Copa to RM ? Will the season be a failure? not for me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this team play, not just win.

        Of course, football is football and you can never guard against fate/luck etc. (inserted due to need to touch wood/ not tempt fate etc.) :)

  26. PhepheSa says:

    Good, depressing review Isaiah now i’m really scared. I think we gonna be alright. Like Jnice said we just need to finish our chances and besides we play well when we have to.

  27. Barcaleya says:

    Ohmygosh – Pinto twisted his ankle and is uncertain to play tonight!

  28. Eklavya says:

    I predict a 2-1 score at Camp Nou and a 1-1 score in Ukraine.

    Hopefully we finish our chances.

    Best available line will start tonight so, XI:

    VV
    Alves Pique Busi Adriano
    Xavi Mascherano Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

    BTW, has anyone noticed that if we only use the first letter of our number 1 XI’s defense then it is:

    APPA (Alves Pique Puyol Abidal)

    Sounds cooler than MVP to me (which should PMV)!

  29. soccermomof4 says:

    I’m glad that Kxevin explained the eternal pessimism of a cule to hammeronmessi a few threads back. It helped a lot. I was vascilating yesterday between cock-eyed optimism and dread(Pep induced). Now I just have that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that’s not even allowing me to finish my coffee(and I’m absolutely addicted to my java!). Ofcourse, I had that feeling before the last clasico and we know how that turned out.

    They’re big, they’re scary, they’re talented, they are rested and relatively unhurt because they get a winter break but we are better. If Messi plays and is even close to 90% I think we win. If we had our best XI from the start of the season we would have won big. Afterall, we beat Villareal (albeit needing VV’s heroics) missing 4 of our starters and with Messi on the bench for the first 50 minutes.

    When the Ravens didn’t go to the Superbowl this year I was sad but not upset. That’s because they were not the best team. If Barca doesn’t go through I think I will be gutted because we are the best team. That’s where my anxiety is coming from.

    Agree with Ek’s lineup. Our best remaining XI, and as I said a couple of threads back, may God have mercy on us(our tired, hurt, overworked, under rested guys)

    Come to the dark side wookies, we has cookies.

  30. Kxevin says:

    More fun news from OptaJose: The team that has eliminated Arsenal from CL has, in the last 7 seasons, gone on to lose its next CL match (not tie, match). Hmmm ….

    –Speaking of Arsenal, looks like Wenger is chicken farming again, in the person of 15-year-old Juvenil defender Xavi Quintilla.

  31. Extreme barca fan says:

    Here is what i think will happen tonight
    Messi will be messiah, messidona and much more, if he plays
    Xavi will mastermind the game
    Iniesta will be impossible to contain
    Villa will score
    Pedro will hit someone in the face with his flailing arms
    Alves will cause another goalkeeper injury like in the Arsenal game
    I will scream goal before anyone else (if there is a liveblog)
    We will win 4-1 (Shakhtar are a great team, but we are the best)

    Rock on, Rock of ages

  32. Euler says:

    f Messi plays as a false nine dropping deep away from the Shakhtar centre-backs, he will be moving into an area occupied by two holding players… it won’t be easy for Messi to find space in that area 20-30 yards outside the penalty area.

    This has been one of the major tactical ironies in European football this season.

    Tactially speaking, a false 9 really should not work for Barcelona in an era when so many clubs play 2 holding players. This is why I’ve said here before that Messi as a false 9 in theory should not work.

    But in reality it’s devastating. And that just another testament to Messi’s talent and drive.

    When Puskas invented the false 9 position there really were no defenders playing between the lines.

    Perhaps the major tactical thrust defensively over the past 20 years or so has been to fortify the central portion of the pitch between the traditional line of defense and midfield with holding players or “destroyers.”

    In other words, to fortify the area of the pitch a false 9 is supposed to exploit.

    So Wilson is correct in that the two holding players for Shakhtar should in theory create problems for Messi dropping deep – but so far this season it hasn’t. And he’s thrived in the role.

    Let’s hope he do so again today. This is going to be a difficult match.

  33. blitzen says:

    Jonathan Wilson on today’s game:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2011/apr/06/will-shakhtar-donetsk-beat-barcelona

    He is assuming that Maxwell will start instead of Adriano.

  34. just listenin says:

    This game already had me nervous and the reviews and Pep’s anxieties are bugging me out – You know how they say you fear what you don’t understand, that’s how it feels and these Shocking Donuts are an enigma. I feel like our enlightened total football village is about to be be pillaged by Genghis Chygrynskiy, flail carrying Mongols from the Ting Dynasty (yeah, I’m sure there is no way this makes geographic or historical sense) – but it feels like it’s happening and it’s very scary :O

    I am trying to move past it, very conflicted, I’m confident and terrified. Hoping that Pedro being back can shift our dynamic, stunting their offense, destabilizing their defense and we can open up the goal scoring valve again. We have to finish our chances like others have said. I agree with @soccermomof4, feels a lot like the pre-clasico emotions.

  35. K_legit says:

    Isaiah due props on the South park reference :D

    Shakthar as a team is in mad form ..something like 31 wins out of 35..that is champion form..
    I am never comfortable playing the first leg at home which generally implies that we need to get a positive result and not concede an away goal..

    Their full backs, ‘specially Srna are huge threats. Srna, I remember, had a bit of a falling out with Messi in the Euro Super Cup game..

    I cannot emphasize how important the flank play is in this game. Villa and Pedro need to track their fullbacks and be ready to run into the ground in this game..

    Oh and booo Brandao (I don’t care if he plays for Marseille Cruzeiro now)

  36. Josep says:

    Here’s my thoughts on the game.

    In the preview you say its a given we won’t win in Shakhtar but I find this 100% untrue. There’s so many circumstances.
    1. Yes, they have an amazing and insane home record. But thats mostly vs. Ukrainian teams, and there’s 2 quality ones. They’ve beaten the likes of Arsenal as well, but they haven’t faced fierce opposition. People determine this Barca as one of the best of all time and you immediately write off our possibilities of winning away? C’mon.

    2. Yellow cards. Its perfect we’re home first with their yellow card situation. Can you imagine if we draw cards on all possible suspension players? they’d be without Gay, Chygrinski, Luiz Adriano, Rat, Mkhitaryan and Srna.
    Seriously. Even drawing a yellow on Srna and Chygy would almost be = 1 away goal. I think we need to get Villa to attack, and have changed my mind and think Adriano must start and get forward. We need to attack the wings early and maintain width and cause a yellow card offense from either of the wing backs.

    3. I’m surprisingly not that nervous. Outside journos all consider Barca in, only people within Barca and their fans know its a tough draw. This is a scary match but if Messi is 100% I don’t see us not winning. Remember our home domination of Arsenal? They played Shakhtar too, and imploded away, and won at home.

    4. Mascherano will be immense. He’s the key tonight. How well he breaks up attacks, and distributes. His distribution has been insane this year, his passing has been so good. He could actually launch some quick counters down the wing, with our pace could result in one-on-ones (which Villa will undoubtedly scuff) :D

    5. We respect our opponents so much, I think its to ward off complacency. At every position we’re better. We’re at home. Only have one possible suspension problem (they clean the slate after the QF too so if Iniesta avoids suspension no one would be suspended barring a red for the SF if we make it.)

    6. WE CAN’T BE SCARED TO SHOOT. Maybe Adriano will finally hook one in today, or Alves puts the shooting boots on, but even from distance we need to blast them. Pyatov is a good GK, but we can’t just pass it into the net. We need to blast it.

  37. EA says:

    Hi all,

    We ae going to get the lineup in what 3 hours. I’m done, all worn out. Don’t think I can read another preview, tactical analysis, comments. No more. I’ve gone from nervous hysterical laughter to the point of tears. This is terrible. I just want the game to start now. I’m sticking to 2 – 0, imo the best, we have to, even if we can, we have to somehow make it there. No more thinking. Just want the game to start soon. Damn, someone give Pep a motivational video for his own sake.
    Sorry going on a ramble here. Hugs all, Barca, please go through.

  38. Miguel says:

    Catalan daily, Sport, have jumped on board the bandwagon with the front cover reminding culés that “Ladies and Gentleman, these are the quarter finals!” and to put down their bocadillos for the game and give the players a clap. “We must take care not to disrespect a rival that can cause a serious upset if you don’t play with all five senses.”
    Mundo Deportivo’s message is a simple one – for simple writers and simple readers perhaps. The front page is filled by the word ‘Goals’ and little Leo Messi’s face, referring to the difficulty Barcelona have had scoring them of late, by their admittedly lofty standards – just nine in Barça’s last six games.

    http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/laligaloca/archive/2011/04/06/spurs-troubles-don-t-concern-madridista-press-as-real-eye-cl-225-sico-semi.aspx

    Thanks for fixing my post, Kari or whoever. But you forgot to delete the posts underneath. :(

    :D

  39. Lev says:

    @euler it is because the holding players also have to deal with Xaviniesta and even Dani Alves who has wondered inside on occasion this season.

  40. Extreme barca fan says:

    Guys this song always motivates me, i listen to it before barca matches

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvNOZegkVXo

  41. Kxevin says:

    Am I the only one that wishes for the nice, calm days when we just played wonderful footy, and defenders weren’t blowing up Twitter timelines and dating international pop stars, manufactured pop stars weren’t getting face time with our shirts, and we were just that badass team from Catalunya?

  42. Kxevin says:

    No Txigrinski tonight, via @SoniaGelma.

  43. Alex says:

    FYI: For all the peeps in USA with DirecTV:

    DirecTV is offering Fox Soccer Plus for free as a one month trial…. I just signed up…. only way to watch it on TV>.

  44. Tyler says:

    just did this myself, thanks for the heads up!

  45. Kari says:

    LiveBlog up! You can thank me there.

  46. Eklavya says:

    The choice of music of some of you guys … scares me. O_o

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