Of Visigoths and False Duels: Internazionale and Barcelona


Champions League Preview: Inter – Barça, 2:45pmEST Wednesday, Fox Sports en Español (FSE).

I flew into Milan on a bright and beautiful morning in November 2006, having left Berlin early enough to catch the sun’s raise hitting the streets for what looked like the first time that day. As we swooped into Malpensa Airport, I was met by the panorama of a city that is know world-wide for being cosmopolitan, for being the nexus of fashion, design, and, lately, aging footballers. It looks stunningly gorgeous, as Italian as it gets, and certainly a welcoming destination. I never did see the Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, though, because I quickly boarded another plane to head to Florence for a week of unadulterated sight-seeing and Tuscan sun basking. On my way back, thanks to an unrelenting bank of fog that closed the Florence airport, I was taken by bus by Alitalia through twisting mountain roads and tunnels and finally back to the airport late at night for a then-delayed flight to Berlin.

None of this was Milan’s fault, of course, but I was left, after my 14-hour travel day that should have been 5 hours long, semi cursing the city for having the temerity to be in my plans on a fairly obliterated day. That I still didn’t get to see the monumental stadium that is the San Siro was merely an added bonus in a long list of pejoratives that I used to describe all things northern Italian for a day or two, when I was able to refocus my distaste for transit authorities and metropolitan areas on the MTA, who, as luck would have it, delayed me a few hours in getting home because of random track work in New Jersey between Newark and Penn Station.

I won’t claim to know much about European history (I took two classes on European history, but very deftly avoided the Renaissance and skipped from Song of Roland type stuff to post-WWII), but I can see how it would be easy to identify our Gallo-Spanish hordes as the second wave of a Visigothic invasion-in-reverse of the Italian peninsula in our modernized Gothic War, the first wave having been our conquest of the Stadio Olimpico under Alaric I, and whatnot and so forth into some sort of muddled comparison of Catalan and Milanese history that ends with a bowl of mental mush and someone pointing out that the Mancunians had nothing to do with the original Gothic War, but were certainly at least caught in the middle of this second one, if they aren’t considered major protagonists in some other pseudo-intellectual grab-bag of crazy that leads us to all be screaming “Spanish Armada! Spanish Armada!” and waving gladiator swords around. Oh.

Modernity has its pluses and minuses, of course, one of the major parts of the latter being the distinct lack of sustained armed conflict over football matches (cough El Salvador/Honduras cough) despite the continuous labeling of various clubs as “empires” by all and sundry, yours truly included. Were this a match against Milano instead of Internazionale, for instance, this section would be about eighteen times longer as I went off on a random tangent involving heads of state allegedly sleeping with hookers in Vladimir Putin’s bed (How do you shoot the devil in the back, Agent Kujan? What if you miss?). It’s not, though, so I’ll leave the politics-masquerading-as-football and Senator Palpatine references to the side for the time being and focus on what’s at hand: a titanic clash between two brilliant squads in the greatest international club competition there is. Take that, Copa Libertadores.

Let’s clear one thing up immediately. Inter-Barça wasn’t set up by UEFA because of all the money involved in their transfers any more than Real Madrid-Milano was (my argument is based on the idea that ensuring ManU-Real Madrid matches would be more lucrative and combustible, as would have Chelsea-Barça matches). But it is, in fact, lucrative and combustible, which is fun for everyone unless you’re an Interista or cule who has a heart condition. Then you should probably go hole up in a cave and claim to be an ascetic for a while. You’ll at least get brownie points with some sectors of the general population.

But the thing is, it’s not a battle between Eto’o and Ibrahimovic, as the daily rags would have you believe. They’ll shake hands at the beginning and that’s probably as close as they’ll get to each other throughout the rest of the time. Maybe during a corner one of them will track back and there will be a lovely close-up shot of the two snuggling for a moment, Eto’o laying his head on Zlatan’s chest in a photogenic moment made possible by 700 photographers gleefully blazing away from the sidelines, remembering their editors previously haranguing them for not finding any better shots of Mourinho hugging Samu or Zlatan ripping apart a replica Inter shirt in front of a stunned and soon-to-be-sobbing child. But no, it’s not about them at all, actually. It’s about two sides whose upper managements really should be friendly (and I believe they are); it’s about two competing approaches to the game more than it is about the particular coaches who, in this current climate of hyperbole and personification, embody those approaches. It is 4-3-3 that is really 4-1-2-3 and Total Football versus 4-1-2-3 that is really 4-3-3 or 4-1-2-1-2, meaning, essentially, that it is a match between good sides.

This look is going to be around for a long time, Mou.

Mourinho will never be accused of spontaneity in anything other than his semi-rhetorical outbursts at press conferences and even those are often attributed to pre-planned tactics. However, the same can be said of Guardiola, whose desire for both creativity and structured control is well documented by Hector. I won’t attempt to rise to his level because that would be pointless and demoralizing for me when the final product turned out to be the Reloaded to his original Matrix: lots of dazzling special effects, but no content whatsoever.

The down-and-dirty part of this post, the stats, are a clean slate at the moment. I put no stock in the domestic form of each team and, even if I did, they would be so similar that it would be hardly worth mentioning anyway. Champions League form is what matters, adjustments for the continental competition, and so far we have nothing to go by. Barcelona know how to play this tournament, as evidenced by last year’s title, but Inter are no joke either.


Barça: Valdés, Pinto, Abidal, Piqué, Maxwell, Puyol, Alves, Touré, Chygrynskiy, Sergio Busquets, Keita, Jeffren, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Messi, Márquez.

Inter: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni,  Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Samuel, Chivu, Santon, Stankovic, Quaresma, Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Vieira, René Krhin, Cambiasso, Eto’o, Suazo, Milito, Balotelli

The battles are not Eto’o-Ibra, but rather Maicon-Henry, Zanetti/Santon-Messi, Samuel/Lucio-Ibra, Motta/Cambiasso-Xavi, Stankovic/Vieira-Iniesta Yaya-Sneijder, Pique/Puyol-Eto’o, Alves/Abidal-Milito, etc. There are enough combinations I could go on forever, especially if we consider the various starting lineups that could be fielded.

Lineup prediction: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, The Yaya, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Ibra, Messi. There is no sense in messing around and if Iniesta is capable of putting in 70+ minutes, he whould start. I can see an argument for including Maxwell in this, but I like Abidal on the wing because of his speed, which would help against Maicon’s forays forward more than Maxwell’s forays forward will help keep Maicon in check. Henry will have a quiet game, I’m sure of it.

Supposedly this is Inter’s starting lineup for tomorrow: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu, Zanetti, Stankovic, Motta, Sneijder, Eto’o, Milito. It comes from Goal.com so who knows how reliable that makes it, but if it’s true, it’s roughly a 5-3-2, which I’m more than willing to accept despite the obvious dangers of Maicon and Zanetti down the wings. I believe that any 5-3-2 in the world affords us space in the middle because it delivers us an effective 3v3 battle. Xavi-Iniesta-Yaya will defeat any 3v3 defense in the world. I’m confident of that. It’ll be like Chelsea, of course, but I don’t think Lucio and Samuel have the ability to contain a surging trident of Messi-Ibra-Iniesta/Xavi. The x-factor, so to speak will be Chivu’s ability to step up and take away the passing lane which, if successful would then allow Inter’s general ability to counterattack to shine through. They can finish, have no doubt about that, but we’re going to play them like they’ve never been played: with the ball at our feet and moving. I don’t believe that you can effectively press for 90 minutes with a 5 man back line, so Inter would, if that were their lineup, be conceding massive amounts of possession to us and, seeing as we’re the away squad, that’s as much as we could hope for before the opening whistle.

Ibra has something to prove, I imagine, and I think he’ll show up big, with freakish shots from distance to open up the defense and then one-touch passes that slip in Messi behind the defense. Henry, like I said, will be busy on the wings trying to keep Maicon in check, meaning that quick counterattacks could free him, but I think that he’ll be fairly well covered for the most part. What he’ll do for us, though, is keep two defenders occupied while the ball is shot around to the other side. If Maicon is caught slightly out of position, then Samuel/Lucio/Chivu will have to cover (forgive me, I’m not sure who is more likely to play on their right side of defense, though I think it’s Lucio) will have to cover, leaving our 3v3 in the midfield and setting up, effectively, a 2v3 in their favor (Ibra-Messi vs Samuel-Chivu-Zanetti) which could rapidly turn into a 3v3 if Alves is in on that or if Iniesta or Xavi step into the gaps created by their 3v3 mismatch.

It’s going to be a tough game, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s certainly winnable. It is, however, in Italy and no war, even an imaginary recreation of one from the Roman Empire, is won without its wounds. Richmond won’t be taken within 30 days and Group F won’t be won in a day either.

The ref is Wolfgang Stark, a German referee who once sent off Motta and Saviola in a UEFA Cup match against Celtic in 2004 (a match I missed because on that day I was in rural El Salvador away from electricity, much less TV showing second-tier European matches). He should be fair, but if things begin to get ugly, he may very well banish random players.

Official Prediction: 1-1. This is going to be very tense. Our goal will be by Messi, on an assist by Ibra.

Saddle up, folks, it’s on.

Game times:

Local/Milan: 8:45pm
New York/EST: 2:45pm
San Diego/PST: 11:45am
Sydney, Australia: 4:45am Thursday
Singapore: 2:45am Thursday
India: 12:15am Thursday

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Written by:

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


  1. lovelymofo
    September 15, 2009

    Ah, that was epic! Looking forward to the match, even tho I’m gonna be stuck at work trying to secretly watch on a tiny little screen.

  2. Kxevin
    September 15, 2009

    My starting lineup:

    Alves Pique Puyol Abidal
    The Yaya Xavi Keita
    Messi Henry Ibrahimovic

    I’d bring Iniesta in if needed, in the second half. He still doesn’t have match pace, and this is going to be a physical one. And if Sneijder starts, Keita will be of value in tracking him around the midfield, so that he can’t unleash that booming long shot of his.

    Nice freakin’ preview, too.

  3. Hilal
    September 15, 2009

    Great preview as always….can’t wait for this one!! I would put Keita in there though instead of Iniesta though; Keita gives us more strength in the middle and Iniesta is not near his best yet. Plus i think bringing him on in the last 30 mins when Inter are tired will be very effective.

    I would definitely take any draw. I say 2-2 and thats a good result away from home this early in the season. Eto’o will score.

  4. khairallah
    September 15, 2009

    stark refereed the barca-chelsea gmae last i year i believe, the controversial-but-not-too-controversial one.. i recall a denied penalty and a missing red card for ballack..

    • September 15, 2009

      Really? I looked for info on him but didn’t find any — I’ll edit tonight when I have a chance.

    • September 15, 2009

      Stark also did the first (away) leg of the Lyon series (@ Lyon) in which he seemed to allow physical play.

      Also, the first Chelsea leg was infuriating to me because of the number of fouls they committed vs the number of cards handed out to them and us. They committed MANY more fouls than us but we ended up with more yellows somehow.

      Count me skeptical of having Stark on this one.

  5. September 15, 2009

    Zanetti will be moving up and down all day. In theory it will be a 4-3-1-2 with Chivu at left fullback and Zanetti as one of the midfielders. However, like Isaiah said, expect Zanetti to asume the FB spot and Chivu to move inside as a third CB at times. However, Zanetti’s positional awareness and stamina is vital when they build up attacks so expect him to live up to his nickname and Tractor up and down the field. Its also good for them to have a second natural FB on their left because they need all the help they can get against the Messi/Alves tandem.

    Samuel and Lucio are big strong physical hardmen with very good anticipation and heading ability. Lucio has surprising speed for a big man while the Wall has lost some at his age. However, they are both clumsy when dragged out into space. That’s a matchup we have to try to exploit but Mourinho won’t make it so simple and will try to protect them against this. Maicon is key. Keep him back and make him work on defense.

    Our backline will have an interesting time. Milito and Eto like to split up the CB pairs by each going wide to opposite sides when waiting for a counter to be launced. This leaves a big hole down the middle. Yaya will have to be awfully disciplined and watch out for guys like Stankovich and Motta crashing through that space.

  6. drew
    September 15, 2009

    aahhhh if only Agent Kujan knew…
    this is going to be a tough one. If we were in top form ready to go, i would, with ease say that we would win this game… but we’re not, and they are looking pretty good. Lets hope our boys dont lay an egg and kick some ass!
    3-2 us goals by messi(2), Zlatan. For inter: Eto’o Sneijder

  7. Eduard
    September 15, 2009

    Keita in for Iniesta is most logical. The key to our defense is going to be speed. Eto’o will unfortunately be the fastest man on the pitch. I think we’ll open the game with a penalty, Messi will finish it. After that We’ll hold on to possesion. Final score prediction is 0-2. After Eto’o scores an own goal(he is known to score for us).

  8. jordi
    September 15, 2009

    How fast is samu though, is he faster than leo or henry or aidal? i can never tell any more.I know hes definitely faster than pique and puyi though, we’ll need to watch out for counterattacks (even though i trust VV to come up big on one on ones)

  9. Helge
    September 15, 2009

    Haha, over at “Real – the offside” they are celebrating the two freekick goals without admitting that it was only due to a pathetic keeper! How fatuous can one be…

  10. DHB
    September 15, 2009

    A group stage match? srry, can’t see any relevance to anything. I hope we draw, not win, just to avoid attention.

  11. Ciaran
    September 15, 2009

    Very unimpressive 5-2 win. How often do you say that? Well… FC Zurich are not exactly CL quality, I mean where in La Liga would they finish? I’m guessing somewhere around Sporting Gijon…
    Oh well, Madrid certainly do the whole ‘press’ thing well. Marca will be an interesting read tomorrow I’m guessing

  12. Sumit
    September 15, 2009

    The match will depend on one person’s performance. The Yaya guarding the middle. The most interesting tussle, for me, will be the Yaya vs. Eto’o/Milito. It is paramount that he break Eto’o and Milito’s runs down the middle so our CB’s can collect the balls and distribute them for counter, after he has brought them down. He and the CB’s will have to keep from getting into the referee’s books.

    Barca will have most of the pocession, the above scenario will play out on the counter. Barca have to score as Inter will score, just the skill of Eto’o and Milito is too much.

  13. DHB
    September 15, 2009

    A cl group stage game? srry, can’t see any relevance to anything. I hope we draw and not win, just to avoid unneeded media attention.

    Also, the 2-3, 2-2, 0-2, are unrealistic predictions. This game won’t have too many goals, it will be 0-0 or 1-0 for either side. Or 1-1 at most, but there won’t be more than 2 goals.

  14. DHB
    September 15, 2009

    A cl group stage game? srry, can’t see any relevance to anything. I hope we draw and not win, just to avoid unneeded media attention.

    Also, the 2-3, 2-2, 0-2, are unrealistic predictions. This game won’t have too many goals, it will be 0-0 or 1-0 for either side. Or 1-1 at most, but there won’t be more than 2 goals.x

  15. BA
    September 15, 2009

    Cristiano Ronaldo in summary:

    flop over anywhere around the front of the opponent’s goal within 30 yards at the lightest of contact. attempt free kicks until 1 goes in.

    play trick passes over 3 yards in unimportant positions that are wholly unnecessary, some of which don’t even come off. when they don’t, proceed to pout as the opponent runs the intercepted pass right past you.

    scoot up the wing doing stepovers that have never once deceived any defender with a functioning brain stem, stand on the ball for a second, then make a back-pass.

    and that’s pretty much it. most ludicrously overrated player in the world. if Madrid play against Barca the way they tried to play against Zurich, those 2 goals will turn into 9 even if they wriggle their way to 4 or 5 of their own. i remain unimpressed.

    • Sumit
      September 16, 2009

      BA: Cool how you describe CrowNaldo’s play.

  16. inNYC
    September 15, 2009

    Hey Isaiah, can I have some of whatever you took before writing this?

    • September 15, 2009

      I thought you’d appreciate this one. One 20oz of Dr. Pepper was all it took…

      • inNYC
        September 15, 2009

        High on life, are we? How sweet.

      • ElShowDeJason
        September 15, 2009

        a Dr. Pepper sounds mighty refreshing.

        you don’t always want to drink Dr. Pepper, but when you do, it is damn good.

  17. Vinod
    September 15, 2009

    Greeting, Barca friends. I come in peace from the Inter Offside, and offer my wishes for a great match tomorrow. Its going to be a classic, but like many here, I don’t expect it to be a high scoring one.

    Couple of notes about the main preview:
    1) Mourinho actually declared that lineup in his press conference, you can find his remarks on the UEFA and Inter official websites. So it isn’t the usual Goal.com drivel. Nothing unexpected about the lineup, but I was hoping Santon and Cordoba would play instead of Chivu and Lucio, both for pace reasons. Chivu, for all his intelligence and elegance, isn’t the fastest player, and considering that he’s a Serie A player, that makes it even worse. He’ll definitely offer more defensively than Santon, and against Messi+Alves, that’s probably more vital.

    2) In India, its at 1.15 am, India is CET + 4.30 hrs.

    I’m terrified of your midfield not only because I’ve seen what it can do, but also because we’re missing our most intelligent midfielder in Cambiasso. If there’s anyone who can snuff out Xavi’s plays and Messi/Iniesta’s runs, its him. Believe it or not, I’ll actually feel a little more secure at the Nou Camp game, that’s how highly I (and possibly a few hundred thousand other Interistas) think of Cambiasso.

    And unlikely as it may seem, I highly doubt we’ll be sitting back and defending, waiting to hit Barca on the counter. The Inter that we’ve seen this season actually seems to be following Barca’s Total Football philosophy. Of course, that still doesn’t mean its going to be an open flowing game with tons of chances.

    Whatever happens, its going to be an enjoyable spectacle. Cheers! 🙂

    • jnelson
      September 15, 2009

      Ahh cool! Always nice to find intelligent people who know how to call BS on goal.com

    • September 15, 2009

      Thank you for the Indian time update. It has been confusing me for a while thanks to a lack of research on my part.

      I did forget to mention cambiasso in the preview and that is unforgivable. I thought he would be healthy then totally didn’t follow up on statements made in other threads. Cambiasso does change things but even with him I do rate our midfield more highly. So what Hector said with more emphasis on The Yaya thing. Still, 1-1. I’m a tight affair.

      I realize that inter has been playing more open this year but does that mean they will against the premier attacking team on the planet? I’m not so sure. Alex ferguson tried a bit of that last time we were in Italy and that didn’t work so well for him. Mourinho has beaten Barcelona before and I think he’ll take lessons from those victories as well as from the Chelsea match rather than trying to outgun us.

      It’ll be a good match. Welcome to the blog venod. It is good to have thoughts from the other side, for sure. It helps to round the ideas into real concepts. Do come back and share your thoughts in the future.

    • September 15, 2009

      Hey Vinod,

      Make yourself at home 😀 .

      No doubt its gonna be a very tight and tense affair. I’ve got nothing but respect for El Cuchu although he’s not playing tomorrow. I also respect Mourinho as a coach even though we hated both his and his Chelseas teams’ guts back in 04-07. Although he is too much of a control freak for my taste, he’s a great tactician and motivator.

      His tenets IMO are still the same as they were at Chelsea:

      – Discipline, a compact midfield, and physicality in defense.

      – Width, pace, and directness in offense.

      In offense I do think Inter has a huge flaw. They don’t have natural width. Mancini and Quaresma flopping IMO hurt that offense more than many think. Mou needs width to have the team run his offense. Remember Robben, Duff, Cole, Boswinga…, Mou loves his wingers and offensive fullbacks. Right now they are overly reliant on Maicon,a FB, to provide width. This opens up spaces and presents a big risk, especially against a side with speed like ours. It also makes it easier for us to make their life harder on offense.

      There are two ways of foiling an offensive fullback. One is to deploy a defensive winger a la Park from Man U or Essien (when deployed there) and another is to keep possession and focus attacks on his wing, making him reluctant to bomb forward and frustrating him. Maicon would be that much more deadlier if he had a dangerous partner (what Quaresma was supposed to be) on the wing but alas he does not. Thus, they are forced to often put a guy like Milito or Samu out wide. They acquit themselves well there but its not their natural position.

      We need to have Henry and Abidal take Maicon out of the offensive game. Do whatever it takes because it is worth it. You take him away and you take away their width which means that you close down spaces and tighten up the field when they have the ball. Motta, Stankovic, and Muntari are not good wing players. Its not their position. If Zanetti is deployed to help out Maicon then that means Chivu is alone to the Messi/Alves onslaught so I think el Tractor stays left.

      I would think his best weapon against us is probably Samu. We always play the ball out from the back and if you disrupt that then you disrupt our whole flow. Samu is great at harassing and pressuring centerbacks so count on him to be breathing on Pique and Puyol during the whole game.

      Sorry for the rambling. Yeah, I’m psyched up 😀

      • Sumit
        September 16, 2009

        Wow… that is an amazing tactical overview of the game tomorrow. I’m glad you were psyched up and decided to write.

    • Kxevin
      September 15, 2009

      Hey Vinod, thanks for coming over. I hope that you noticed my post over there, which was also in peace.

      This will be a very curious match, because neither side has been tested in the league, really. Frankly, Mourinho’s lineup tells me that he’s going to play tight at home, for the pace reasons that you mention, re Chivu and Lucio (whom we had our way with vs Bayern in last season’s knockout stage).

      But the addition of Milito and Eto’o, not to mention Sneijder, makes it a dangerous match for our defense. Puyol is going to be the key defender. Pique I’m not worried about. Same with Abidal. Alves will get caught up the pitch as he does often, but he can usually get back and, with help, make a play.

      I’m feeling draw but frankly, the match could be 3 or 4-0 in either direction, if a few key players aren’t up to par.

      The only real question is who wins the group, really. As strong as the other two clubs are in their respective leagues, I don’t see them coming through over you and us.

    • skyislm
      September 16, 2009

      Hi Vinod, India is CET + 4.30 but due to daylight savings, it is now CET + 3.30. The match is at 12.15am on TEN Sports.

  18. Andrew M.
    September 15, 2009

    nice preview. the game will be shown at 20h45 in south africa

  19. Jose
    September 15, 2009

    Wait… Fox Sports in Espa~ol? I get DirecTv and pretty much every channel EXCEPT that one. The hell?

    • OhYes
      September 15, 2009

      Comes with the latino/other package..honestly it’s terrible that you can’t just pay for the channels you want.

      • Kxevin
        September 15, 2009

        Ah, for the days of true a la carte television. Every time the matter comes up (it was a cause celebre for a while), the cable/satellite lobby manage to get it derailed.

        Satellite already has the capability. I know, because when I was a DirecTV subscriber, I had 400 channels and only watched 12 or so. After calling to cancel, they switched me to a “specialist” who asked a surprise question, “What if I could give you the channels that you watch, and only those channels?”

        And so they did. I had a 12-channel grid that cost me $10 per month. So yes, they can. But usually, no, they won’t. Cable also has full a la carte capabilities. It’s why when you order a channel, they can fire it right up. It’s just a computer telling their server what channels you get.

        Can anyone tell this is a pet peeve of mine? 😀

        • OhYes
          September 15, 2009

          It is a pet peeve of mine, too! I can argue about it for days but this is the wrong place for it, so I will not. 😛

          Isaiah: I’ll be e-mailing you about running the liveblog tomorrow!

        • inNYC
          September 15, 2009

          I also think it’s outrageous, so rant away. Just today I spent an absurd amount of time filtering out the DirectTV channels I don’t want to see on the list when I turn my TV on. I get like 1,000 channels. On the list? 75, and I was reaching. Pisses me off.

          • OhYes
            September 16, 2009

            Same here! We get 1,000 channels as well and god forbid we forget a channel because looking for it is a massive pain.

            Their reason for doing this garbage is that the smaller channels will not get traffic from channel surfers if they switch to an a la carte model. But if they gave free demos of those channels they wouldn’t have those problems.

            They do it with the premium movie channels! You know when you are flipping through them and you find that you have 15 free minutes to watch HBO or Starz? That’s what I mean!

            Greedy bastards.

        • Soto
          September 16, 2009

          This is why I haven’t had cable or satellite for years. I just want sports channels and that’s it. But even the basic set-up is prohibitively expensive for my tv viewing needs.

          I am amazed that they did that deal for you Kevin. That’s actually smart customer service: keep a customer in whom you have already invested, even if it’s at a lower revenue rate.

          Of course, you had to suffer through channel overload for awhile before your threat of leaving could get you a la carte. Frustrating.

  20. Jose
    September 15, 2009

    Meaning, I can watch all the games tomorrow except that one. Luckily, Fox Sports Channel, the main one, decided to show Liverpool vs. Drebeceni. Aren’t I in for a treat.

    • Alexinho
      September 16, 2009

      I know! For God’s sake.

      There’s a bar I know that basically downloads the DirecTV channel people need to watch. It’s the bee’s knees basically.

  21. Boat Forever
    September 15, 2009

    Ibra should really start taking free-kicks from close range. Long range Xavi can take his chances so that our giants in Ibra, Pique, Yaya, Keita & PUYOL can head goals into the back of the net. Alves shouldn’t be allowed any where close to free-kick taking area. He misses a LOT of chances. We can’t afford to miss these free-kicks against big opponents. Ibra has got a tremendously powerful shot, make best of it for free-kicks Pep 🙂

  22. Colby
    September 15, 2009

    Sorry if this turns into a double post:

    The game is also on Fox Soccer Channel at 7:00 p.m. EST


  23. ElShowDeJason
    September 15, 2009

    I’m glad Cambiasso isn’t playing. I’d probably rate him as the 5th best midfielder in the world.

    1. Xavi
    2. Iniesta
    3. Yaya
    4. Essien
    5. Cambiasso
    6. Gerrard. (can’t talk about good mids without mentioning him)

    poor Cesc probably wouldn’t make my top ten…

    • September 15, 2009

      …and Maradona plays Gago and a 35 year old Veron over him. It makes sense. (Sorry, I’ll stop 😉 )

      • ElShowDeJason
        September 15, 2009

        I hate Maradona.

        If Argentina wanted to play Barca style, they could deploy:


        Striker would be Milito, Higuain, or Lisandro, hell even Saviola would do, as long as its an actual striker. or, considering his age preferances, Crespo and Cruz.

        This would be asking a lot from Luncho, as he would be the rhythm keeper of the team. he would play Xavi’s position. Cambiasso would play Iniesta/Keita’s role helping Masch, and crashing the box.

        • Vinod
          September 16, 2009

          Cambiasso can cover most roles, but I think that particular position doesn’t make the most use of his talent. I would go for a 4-2-3-1 formation instead, with:





          Now *that* should make any opposition coach shit himself…

          • ElShowDeJason
            September 16, 2009

            actually Vinod, from the limited Inter games i’ve seen ( i watch about 10 a season), i thought this was his most useful position.

            He play very well as a centerback or defensive mid, because he is great defensively, but i think that this wastes his attacking ability.

            Watch his work in the 2006 World Cup. He has great short passing and attacking interplay.

            But i also wouldn’t play him as an Attacking Mid, because he doesn’t have the vision or creativity for it, and Sneijder is one hell of an AM.

            Cambiasso is perfect for that general-use/ Center Midfielder.

            This is just my view though, feel free to hit me with some knowledge… Since you probably see him week-in, week-out.

            By the way, the reason why i watched so much Inter was because i love Ibrahimovic and Cambiasso. We have Inter, and i wouldn’t exavtly mind seeing el Cuchu in blaugrana.

  24. Tutomate
    September 15, 2009

    For those with Direct TV

    426 @ 11:45
    624 @ 11:45
    469 @ 11:45

  25. Kari
    September 15, 2009

    For all Canucks (although I doubt there are many) the game will be shown on gasp! :O Sportsnet Westt and Pscific (Liverpool v Debrecen on Ontario and East), AND it’s HD. 😛

    It’s times like this I remember why it’s nice living in Canada (Ottawa). Then the weekend comes along…


    • Corrine
      September 15, 2009

      yes! i watched a few of the playoff matches and besiktas vs manutd on tv today and. funny how this year all these american/canadian networks are putting forth an effort to get soccer to us. i don’t have the pacific channel though, only the eastern channel so i’ll be watching my pool boys on tv and hoping to find a good stream for the inter game

    • Sumit
      September 16, 2009

      You got another Ontario Canuck here. Thanks for the info.

  26. September 15, 2009

    Oh CRAP!

    As per Sport, Pique twisted an ankle in practice and is playing with pain while Puyol is recovering from a knock in the Getafe game and Marquez is not ready to start.

    Not good. They are speculating that the Yaya may play as a CB like he did against Chelsea and Man U but his partner irregardless of whether its Puyol or Pique will not be 100%. Against guys like Milito and Samu…not good at all. I sure wish about now that Chygnasty was not cup-tied.

    Also, the prognosis is rain.

    • jordi
      September 16, 2009

      I know its a risk, but couldnt we play rafa ? I guess he’d be rusty though.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 16, 2009

      Thats mad whack yo!
      Muniesa would shit his pants against Eto’o (with good reason)
      And I say no to Yaya as DM. Because I am far more afraid of Senijder than of Eto’o/Milito.

      In the end we go with whichever two CBs feel the best. If only one can play, than we can always throw Abidal there. Alves-CB-Abidal-Maxwell.

      If Pep insits on Yaya playing CB, then Busi will start, because as we’ve seen, Pep doesn’t consider Keita a DM.

      It sucks that we have those injuries, but I am not worried about the game tomorrow. Like I said, not winning tomorrow won’t kill us.

  27. Vinod
    September 16, 2009

    Thanks for all the welcomes, guys. Nifty reply feature, but since so many of y’all replied, I’m going to stick to the traditional reply style. 🙂

    Hector, if you watch Inter matches, you’d notice that Zanetti has been playing on the same side as Maicon for four years in a row now. They have an amazing understanding, and that’s the reason why Maicon is able to get forward so much without worrying. The way they play, you can hardly figure who’s the right back and who’s the right mid. So I don’t expect that to change this game.
    Our left side will be much more static and straightforward in comparison. Last season, Santon and Muntari had a similar thing going, but this season, neither are starters. I don’t think Motta will entirely leave Chivu to fend for himself on that side – Mourinho will eat him for dinner if he did.
    But you’re right that we don’t use as much width as Barca does, but we’ve found through trial and error that our compact approach can be more prolific. We do have the option to change systems, which Mourinho frequently does. Balotelli was in red-hot form this weekend, and if Mourinho brings him on later, he’ll give your defence something to think about. Personally, I think he should start always because of the unpredictability he brings, but then again, I’m not Special. 😉

    Kxevin, I did notice your post, which is what inspired me to come over here and exchange pleasantries. 😉 But I disagree on Barca and Inter having an easy ride to the top of this group. With all due respect, I fear the away games to Russia and Ukraine far more than the Nou Camp. At least at your stadium, our boys won’t freeze their cojones off. Its very very difficult playing in Eastern Europe in October and November, especially when you’re playing teams that are used to that weather and you have only two days to acclimatize.

    • September 16, 2009

      I do catch some Inter games every now and then. I am also, unfortunately, also an Argentina fan so I love me some Cuchu and Javier. The Tractor is a hell of a player but as a midfielder I see him more as a “tornante” or in any case a volante than an extremo. Its definitely not the same. Mourinho likes his wide wingers and a lot of overlapping which is why when he came into Inter one of the first things he did was start asking for wide men. As a volante, Zanetti can cover Maicon but that still leaves a big space in midfield, there is no true overlapping.

      He’s played on the left for Argentina before which is why I voted for him to help out on Messi and Alves. A switch footed defender on that side, especially one with Zanetti’s smarts will go a long way to help you guys out. Certainly more than Motta unless he has become a drastically better defender. That’s a mismatch IMHO. A horizontally compact attack is never good. The spaces get smaller and it makes it harder to find a hole in the defense.

      I’ve only seen Sneijder play for you gents in one game (the Derby) so no way to guess how he will be used. I saw him as a classic trequartista but who knows how Mourinho will use him tomorrow. I’m REALLY glad Cuchu is not playing though. Him not being there makes it much more feasible to dominate possession and cut off the supply to those two awesome strikers.

      Now, Balotelli is a great point. He’s a wildcard. I wouldn’t put it past ol’ Jose to lie about the line up before hand and then include him. He could make our FB’s think twice before bombing forward and provide width in attack. Then again, he’s also a great option as a super sub.

      Here’s to a good game and no injuries.

    • September 16, 2009

      Oh yeah, well said on the Russian/Ukranian teams.

      Like the Johan said, this game will not decide the group. The games in Russia and Ukraine will.

  28. E
    September 16, 2009

    hello gents , an interista here and first time poster on your site I gotta say this is a nice looking site but that’s not the only thing I came here to talk about as you may have already suspected
    Great write up isaiah I hope your boys aren’t gonna be as inspired 2morrow as you were when you wrote this ! there is however one thing you’re wrong about and that is that well play with 5 3 2 zanetti is no longer considered a fullback when rocking the nerazzuri shirt he might play a game or two there once in a blue but he is a midfielder so our formation against you will be 4 3 1 2 with zanetti on the right flank in front of maicon and motta on the left in front of chivu other than your review gets a perfect 10 and a piece of cheese cake

    Hector that is some good news my friend lol nah jk I seriously hope that this is just another of those “news” sport got up on their site I’m from madrid so I know how spanish papers like to make up stories when a big game is around to make the opposition a tad complacent and why I as I an inter fan would hope you wiill have a healthy back 4 ready to kick start the game you may ask , well if we’re to beat you I would like us to do it with you being full strenght
    Anyways may the best win FORZA INTER!

  29. Kxevin
    September 16, 2009

    Not good news on the back line, but if the midfield does its job properly, it won’t be as critical. Not a peep out of EMD, except for Puyol nursing a knock picked up against Getafe.

    But Sport has Puyol gimpy, Pique gimpy and The Yaya also ailing. Lordy! I don’t want to see Busquets. Not in this match.

    Vinod, I figure that you and we will score draws in the cold countries, then turn the trick at home. But the winner of our group could have one of, if not the lowest score of a group winner, probably around 10-12 points.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 16, 2009

      as of 3:00 am EMD confirmed that Pique twisted his ankle, but said it was wrapped, and everything was fine. He was even shooting the ball at the end of practice.

      EMD added that Pique and Puyol will start and that Barca practiced under light rain.

  30. Alexinho
    September 16, 2009

    A 1-1, huh? Did you fail to mention that Eto’o would score?

    Nah, I’m going optimistic with the 0-1 as we are still the best team in the world. I wouldn’t be so quick to count out Henry. Maicon is one helluva silencer, but TH14 loves to whip out his best tricks for Europe, and he is very well-rested. I feel like Henry, like Makelele in his last year or so with Chelsea, was just preserved for the big matches.

  31. Chaith
    September 16, 2009

    Hi Isaiah,

    India is 3:30 hours ahead of Europe so it starts at 12:15.

    • Cesc.Pistol
      September 16, 2009

      Since the actual timings haven’t yet been edited I’ll mention them again: It starts at 00:15 on Thursday. That is 15 minutes past midnight.

      The program broadcast starts at 23:30 or 11:30 PM on Wednesday. The match will be on Tensports.

      Official schedule:

      BTW Excellent preview Isaiah! One of the best I’ve read.

      • Vinod
        September 16, 2009

        Crap! I forgot that Europe and the US are still running on summer time, without daylight savings. My bad, Isiah. I’ve forgotten the nuances of Indian time after moving to the other hemisphere… 😉

  32. ElShowDeJason
    September 16, 2009

    Oh God, the English Club Poaching Scandal has been dubbed Babygate… too funny!

    According to Sport Dejan Stankovic, Esteban Cambiasso, and Cristian Chivu all participated in full training. (they were all in doubt for the match.)

  33. Helge
    September 16, 2009

    Wow, nice picture Isaiah. Did you take it?

    And a great preview, I felt like being in history class for the first part of it 🙂

    That’s really bad news for us if neither Piqué nor Puyol are 100%. You need at least 100% against Eto’o because he ALWAYS gives 120%, so considering his special motivation against us, he will probably play as if he was one and a half person captured in a body of a single one. It’s a shame that Chygnasty isn’t allowed to play 🙁

    I don’t worry that much about the result today, because as Cruyff said, the decisive matches will be in Kiev and in Kazan. That’s why I will also take a closer look on their match today.Although I’ve actually never seen Rubin Kazan play, I fear them more than Dynamo Kiev. Winning the Russian Premjer Liga isn’t that easy anymore since there is a lot of competition with the likes of CSKA, Spartak, Lokomotive and Zenit, all of them big spending clubs. Rubin is not only the current Champion, but also leading with 6 points advantage. They have by far the best attack with 11 more goals scored than the second-best. Plus in the winter it can be up to -30° C there…
    I hope Kazan doesn’t win in Kiev today, because otherwise they might be real contenders for the 2nd spot.

    Now back to Inter-Barca: I can’t wait to see this match!!! It will be weird to see Eto’o playing against us, but it’s also interesting to see him from another perspective. I will actually follow him more closely than I did during the last 5 years. He will be my special focus of the match. So let’s see how freakin’ dangerous this indomitable lion truely is 😉

    • September 16, 2009

      I did not take either of the pictures in this post, Helge. If we ever play in Florence (say, against Fiorentina) I’ll post one of me in front of the Ponte Vecchia. Or in Lochness getting messy with nessy. My lack of travel through Italy perturbs me, I suppose, because I’d love to visit Rome, Venice, and Milan, but there are so many places to go and so few dollars to go around. 🙁 in that regard.

      Also, I’m a shit photographer.

  34. Cesc Pistol
    September 16, 2009

    Helge makes a strong point Kazan, though I do not watch the Russian league a month or so back I started watching this show called ‘Global Football’ which has highlights from the Russian league.
    And although highlights are never a thing to go by, I was definitely impressed quite a few times.

    Also a note to the Indian cules: ESPN-Star will not be broadcasting La Liga this year. They haven’t even bought rights yet and this one guy wrote in to them and Cheryl Long, Manager, Corporate Communications, ESPN STAR Sports confirmed that they won’t be showing it.

    Since Neo Sports has both Serie A and Bundesliga and promote both of them well the only chance is that Tensports might pick up the rights.

    Do write to them as it will help in bringing to their notice the numerous fans of La Liga in India and hopefully persuade them to buy the rights. Here’s the link:


    • Baban
      September 16, 2009

      Cesc, have you been able to write something in tensports window for contact? I have been trying long since but have not been able to post anything. Missing La Liga badly, 🙁

      • skyislm
        September 16, 2009

        me too! I am sick of the streams – they are pathetic, even after I upgraded my broadband to 2Mbps! 🙁

        So I downloaded the gijon match in the morning first thing and watched it “deferred live” 🙂

        • Sumit
          September 16, 2009

          Skyislm, where did you download the match from.

  35. yogi
    September 16, 2009

    I think we will start with our first 11. Pep usually does not rest people for big matches and this is BIG.

    Sad about La Liga not being shown in India. I will be home for two months at end of this year and it is going to suck. Well, long live internet.

    The key, as usual, will be with our midgets. If they are on song, we win. I predict a 2-1 for us with Etoo to score.

  36. Random Juve Fan
    September 16, 2009

    If Maicon can get the better of Maxwell then there could be a lot of crosses coming into the box for Milito and Eto’o. I also think that Santon could start ahead of Chivu. He is probably the best defender under the age of 21 in the world and dominated Ronaldo last season so Messi may have a few problems there. However Barca’s midfield will keep possesion against Inter’s and will control the game. My prediction is a 2-2 draw. I wanna see Inter lose though.. Forza Juve

    • September 16, 2009

      You might be right about Santon, but I think experience might be the biggest factor against a player of Messi’s caliber.

      I too want to see Inter lose.

    • September 16, 2009

      Agreed with Isaiah.

      Also, I would go with Abidal’s defensive prowess over Maxwell to keep Maicon at bay.

  37. OhYes
    September 16, 2009

    Yup this is going to be a big match. Definitely can’t wait.

    I am actually nervous about it, despite having claimed not to be earlier! 🙁

    After RM’s shoddy performance yesterday, I hope Barca blows Inter away, despite my wish for Italian football to regain a bit of the luster it once had.

  38. Kzevin
    September 16, 2009

    Coltrane on the headphones, pecking away on the MyTouch and thinking that Cruijff isn’t that buf or a genius in saying that the group will come down to the cold nations. Heck even I said that, and I’m a big dummy. The real question for me is today. Everyone says that this match won”t decide the group, Which is true. But make no mistake: both sides want this match really bad. They will go all outcome because there’s a ton of morbid with one. I can’t wait.

    • Kzevin
      September 16, 2009

      Soft keyboards rock for the occasional gibberish word, yes? Awesome!

      • Soto
        September 16, 2009

        Soft keyboards or early morning bloody mary?

  39. Andrew M.
    September 16, 2009

    ahhh the joys of the third world. we have a special champions league set-up here on cable that we get 5 channels showing all the games at the same time and then repeat continuously until they are sure you ahve seen them all.

    i am meant to be working now but i really cant concentrate at all.

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