“We can lose at the Bernabeu in the league, we can lose against Espanyol at home, but there is one game we cannot lose: the one against Almeria.” — Pep Guardiola
Quite the quote Pep’s laid on us, eh? I agree completely. Seems to be happening quite often. In Pep We Trust, after all.
It seems like some people think the Liga is in the bag, and while I can’t blame them, there are still 8 games to go. To be frank and use a horrible cliche, this is one of, if not the, toughest match we’ll play this season, because it’s a must win and Almeria are battling for the Liga lives; they are rock bottom with a mere 24 points.
Relegation threatened sides are the worst to play at the end of the season, IMO. Why? Because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain if they give it a go. Other teams may prioritize their matches, shrug their shoulders and say, “Hey. It’s not like we can win here at the Camp Nou. Let’s save some energy and focus on another, more beatable team”, and shut up shop. Not gonna happen with relegation sides, because they can’t afford to do that. They need to get points and get them NOW.
This is coupled with the fact our squad is thin. We already knew that, but it bears repeating. Messi isn’t fully recovered, we have a defensive midfielder as a CB because Puyol still hasn’t been released from the Caveman Hospital for Beasts and Other Football Hardmen, Iniesta is a father, we’re without Pinto, who would have stood in for the suspended Valdes but sprained his ankle before the Shakhtar match, and Busi, who is also suspended, which means we’ll probably see B-teamers galore on Saturday/Sunday. Which is why Pep follows up his comments by saying:
“We have to go to the Bernabeu with an eight-point advantage, not six or five. They [Real] have a great team, and it’s normal that they could beat us in the league and cup. It could happen, but not against Almeria. We can’t lose this game.”
For the sake of our short, streched squad; for our boss’ hair; for our cule hearts–we can’t lose this game.
After our Clasico in the Bernabeu (pronounced Ber-NAH-Bay-EWW–and “eww!” is right 😛 ), we have currently 12th placed Osasuna (H), 14th placed Sociedad (A), 7th placed Espanyol (H), 9th placed Levante (A), 16th (!) placed Depor (H), and 19th placed Malaga away for our last game of the season.
Now, the standings are a bit decieving here because only 4 points seperated 9th placed Levante (38pts) and 16th placed Depor (34pts). This means two things:
- All teams 9 through 16 need points. That’s a given regardless of position, but really, when so few points separate teams, it means they’ll be fighting hard so they don’t lose their standing, or they feel buoyed about the fact that if they do well, they could save themselves. Long winded explanation short: few points separating teams = more hard fought matches, because every point counts.
- This ties in with the first point: the standings will change. I haven’t looked around to see who plays who, but one win for Almeria and suddenly they see themselves nearly out of the relegation zone. That’s huge.
Now, with all the doom-and-gloom that permeated this space before the Shakhtar match, many of you are probably thinking, “Kari, what the flip? Seriously. Why’d ya have to go and try to freak me out early? I would have done it anyway. Now my Thursday/Friday is ruined. Good job. I hope you get fired from this BFB job. In fact, I don’t know how you got this job in the fir[rest of the comment has been edited by admin Kari -ed].” Well, it’s a simple answer one, my good pessimist and nay-sayer: it gives us more insight to Pep’s view on our big matches (read: El Clasico) this season.
Pep is basically saying that he’s alright with losing to EE, because our point total win ensure the result won’t be costly. That is, of course, unacceptable and we all know he’ll go for the win, but when I read his quote on fifa.com earlier, I instantly thought, “We are so gonna rest players against them and look to blitz them in the CDR final”.
Think about it for a second, if/when we beat Almeria, we have a minimum of 8 points as a lead, which can become a max of 11, if EE lose to Athletic Bilbao in San Mames. Beating Almeria gives us much needed breathing room, and crucially, the chance to rest players.
We play the Evil Empire back to back –on the 16/17th and again on the 20th. Then there are the CL semis where they are going for their first CL win since the turn of the century. I love our team, but I don’t think we can win them all, realistically speaking. We may have beat them 5 times in a row, the last time being a 5-0 victory, but we only ever played them twice a season. This time?
5 4 times in one month.
That’s why I focus on a win in the CDR final. We can lose in the Bernabeu in the league.
But we can’t afford to lose against relegation threatened Almeria.