Special O and the Great Mendilibar: Barça – Osasuna

Liga Preview: Barcelona – Osasuna, Saturday 2pmEST, GolTV

Osasuna is a special team. Not special special, but more like special to me. You see, they were the cannon fodder, thrown to the blaugrana lions, torched with implacable ferocity, all on the altar of me preparing the dinner I prefaced my wedding proposal to soon-to-be Mrs. The Lady. She had no idea, of course, and still doesn’t that it was Osasuna that I completely and totally ignored that day while I slaved in the kitchen over a sumptuous feast. I seriously watched like 2 minutes of it and was happy that we won, the sounds of the game coming from the living room, some friends telling me to come in for replays. I’m not even sure I knew that Messi had scored a second until a few hours later.

So they’re a special team. And this special team has scored 7 goals more than Messi. Better than Hercules and Depor, who have scored fewer goals than the little Argie Bargie. But they’re also a different team than we faced back in December. They got a new coach on February 14 after Camacho was given the boot. The team had won 5 times, including earning a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid, but that wasn’t enough—they were in 18th and had lost 11 times in 23 matches and 6 of the previous 11.

They appointed Jose Luis Mendilibar, a man whose name always makes me titter for some reason I’m not entirely sure about—Mendilibar—yeah, I really don’t know why but I think everyone around me just wondered why the nerdy kid just tittered. Mendilibar—heee—has led Osasuna to 4 victories in 9 games, for an overall record of 4-1-4 (15GF, 9GA). They’ve failed to score just twice under their new manager, so that’s nice for them, but they’re also on a 3 match losing streak in which they’ve allowed 5 of those 9 goals and scored just 4. Diego Costa grabbed a hat trick against them, after all.

Something odd that I noticed: each time Barça has drawn, we’ve won the next game 2-1. All the draws were 1-1 too and each of the subsequent matches were played at the Camp Nou, so it stands to reason that we’ll win 2-1. Consider that my official prediction: 2-1 over Valencia, 2-1 over Athletic Bilbao, and 2-1 over Getafe. Not a single repeat goal scorer in any of those 3 matches either: Villa, Messi, Iniesta, Puyol, Alves, and Bojan. So I think that means Pedro and Mascherano. Sure it does. Put the house on it. And your dog. Or maybe just someone else’s dog.

So who will we play? JDS, Thiago, Jeffren, and hell, why not Deleofeu? Maybe that new American prospect, Ben whatever? Are we resting players or thinking they have the batteries left to make it through the next 2 weeks? Does resting superstar athletes get them out of rhythm? Are they in rhythm? Can playing against Osasuna put them back into a groove? Weren’t they amazing in the second half on Wednesday? Would you stop asking questions? Aaaargh, didn’t I just ask you—Mendilibar: heeeeee.

So many questions not enough Mendilibar to calm the nerves that are already building for next week. Adriano is out, Puyol is still messed up. Maxwell will have to play 4 weeks in a row and Alves better not get suspended or we’ll be without a right back unless Puyol can actually step in. Do we bring up Montoya? Do we bring in Fontas now? Why is like half our squad injured? Oh, because we have a squad of 4 people, that’s right. Oops.

But it has worked for so long that it’s impossible to really accuse Guardiola of failing at anything, unless, of course you’re short sighted and don’t remember anything about the last 3 years. Have we forgotten how well we played at the end of the year in each of the previous Champions League campaigns? Have we forgotten that we’re looking squarely at our third consecutive La Liga title? We made the final of the Copa del Rey twice in 3 years and it could have been 3 out of 3 if it weren’t for a miserly Sevilla defense. Terrible team management, right?

Sure, we had no one on the bench to come out and smash something into the back of the net on Wednesday, but that’s because they’re injured. Our starting left back is wounded, our second string striker is out, and now even our second string left back is gone for almost the rest of the season. And our captain, our man of men, our adofiiuwehslRAAAAWR in human form, isn’t 100%, and might be missing.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Mascherano, Xavi, Thiago, Jeffren, Messi, Pedro

For Osasuna? Mendilibar–heeeeeeee

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. The Lady. She had no idea, of course, and still doesn’t that it was Osasuna that I completely and totally ignored that day while I slaved in the kitchen over a sumptuous feast.

    -The things we do for love. 😛

    Are you suuuuure Barça isn´t playing Real Madrid tomorrow? Dang. Atleast I know I get to see some JdS and Thiago tomorrow. 😀 I hope Maxwell plays a good game in anticipation of his appearance in the Champions midweek.

  2. Question: Is Messi suspended for 2moro since he was booked in the CDR final or it doesn’t count?

    I also expect to see some Affelay magic 2moro, with Fontas starting maybe.

  3. Here’s a funny before your leaving and watching your friend’s crappy all girl bar band play instead of going to the real concert you had your heart set on seeing all week but whatever:

    ARSENAL TODAY announced their intention to rescue their season by registering a global patent on the concept of passing.
    The plan would raise revenue for the club through royalty payments based on a two-tier system: a pay-monthly service for heavy users like Barcelona, and a pay-as-you-pass option for less frequent passers of the ball, such as Stoke.


  4. No JDS or any other B players other than Thiago tomorrow. He’s the only one that trained with the team yesterday, so you know how that works. I expect to see Thiago, Afellay, and (hopefully) Fontas starting.

    1. expect to see Thiago, Afellay, and (hopefully) Fontas starting.

      Now we are almost at season’s end and we are still hoping for a lot of youngsters to start in a match. But we all know that’s not going to happen even though they had a emotionally and physically hard two matches and this is the only chance to rest key players but Pep will not rest them!

      I fear that even though we advance to the CL Final and wrap up the league, the players would be burned out already for the Final.

      I reckon Mourinho will rest some players against Valencia.

    2. If I’m not mistaken, Pep said in his press conference yesterday that some players will be rested.

  5. I get the feeling the players that started in the CdR will not rest tonight because they’ll want to make up for the loss, on a personal and club level. And just a hypothesis, maybe one reason Villa hasn’t been rested is because the player insists on not resting, both in his hopes and the hopes of the whole club (+Pep) that he scores once again.

    Once again I am eager to see Ibi start.

  6. Hey guys! I try to avoid commenting on opposition boards after a game, especially one as big as the one on wednesday, for fear of being called a troll and for it seeming like I’m rubbing it in. Anyways, tough luck! It was a very close game. Both teams had their own half to finish off the game, and in the end the more fit team was able to finish up the game. As for the issues with unsportsmanlike behavior, i though both teams showed lows that we would normally not see, and hence why i avoid commenting on them. It’s really an endless debate that will lead no where.

    It’s nice to see that the Ramos incident gave you guys a laugh, i was cracking up! It also lead to a picture of Luis Enrique (my least favorite person in the world) holding the CDR trophy in 1998 with it being separated in half. Classic!

    I was having a conversation with Eklavya about possible transfer target for you guys. So the question i want to ask you cules, is it really a big center forward that you need or maybe some cover at the left wing? With Villa very comfortable playing the role of the 9, wouldn’t it be just as good to buy a left winger? I rate Eden Hazard very highly.

    And with all this talk about getting cover and adding depth to the squad, doesn’t this change the whole situation that Pep enjoys? I can understand the position that he comes in where he wants a tight squad with no one unhappy. Finally, wouldn’t adding depth limit the chances of youth teamers getting minutes in the first team? This is a great issue for us IMO. While it is a luxury to have such a big squad, a lot of the players in Castilla can barely get a chance to show case their talent with the first team. You can’t be playing some youth teamer when you have Kieta barely getting any minutes. Similar to us and not being able to play Sarabia (great talent) when Kaka, Ozil and Canales can play in his place.

    Once again, tough luck. I’m sure after the second leg at the Camp nou, last wednesday will be history. Personally, i hope history in our favor 😉

    1. hi, Bassam! congrats for your team, it was a very very close game…
      if Pedro’s goal was counted in, everything would be different, eh?
      every inches in football can change the history…

      I leave the ‘heavy’ discussion about transfers and depth squad to my fellow cules… 😀

      and yes, after the second leg at the Camp nou, last Wednesday will be history….
      IF my team progress to UCL final, the only thing I will remember about CdR final is Ramos and his beloved trophy… 😆

      how optimistic are you about your team’s chance to progress to UCL final, Bassam? 🙂

  7. Well, I know what I want for the Central Forward position. Or rather what I don’t want.

    I don’t want us to have any big transfer for a CF over the age of 26 years. I don’t want anyone else of the same mold as Villa, Pedro, Bojan .

    I want us to buy -whenever we do it – a young (~23 years old) striker who excels only at the center forward position (although no one probably ‘excels’ anywhere at 23). Different from the others, but young enough to develop his game to suit our needs. Plays well enough to be our next solid CF for the 5 years or so.

    Also, these players don’t have to been as tall as Ibra to be hood headers. Torres, Kaka and C.Ronaldo’s height is good…

    Currently, not only we don’t have a CF, but that position doesn’t even properly exist anymore.

    1. Why do we need a young striker when we have Messi and Pedro who are both <25 years old??

      We just need some experience. Someone who could be a leader( not footballing wise as Messi is the leader of course).

    2. I didn’t say we necessarily need one right now. Whenever we buy another CF. Agreed about the leader part. And I keep forgetting Messi is 23. He’s that young but he’s it seems like he has the experience of a veteran, he dominates in every position he plays.

    3. The reason I continue to go on about Forlan is because at the moment I don’t see any players in the market that would fulfill our long term needs that are also good value.

      Yes, Forlan is getting old. But give him two years in the shirt and to be a player in the Larsson mold while our scouts find a good, young, long term striker. If he could be bought for less than 10 million I think he could provide a lot to the team.

  8. As for the Osasuna match, I was hoping for Bartra or any other RB to be called up. Now Alves wil probably have to play.

    My XI:
    Alves – Fontas – Milito – Maxwell
    Thiago – Mascherano – Afellay
    Jeffren – The Ghost of Bojan? – Pedro

    – Pep must not play Messi.
    – Pep must not play Villa.

    And yet, we need one of the two to play, otherwise we don’t have a striker. Bojan could have been a jelp right now.

  9. Montoya is training with the team right now. It means he has a chance to play today. Nice.

    1. Jnice you fool you should have said it before I posted my lineup! I specifically wanted a RB XD

  10. Montoya won’t start, He may enter in Alves’ place later in the match, Fontas, Thiago and Afellay will probably start.

    We need a CF even if He’s 26 years or older, The team is young, so it’s okay to get another striker in 3 or 4 years time. I want him to be slightly tall (+180cm – +6 foot) so that we can use crosses and adding a new dimension to our game.

  11. Why do everyone think Barca is arrogant.I hate reading Goal.com or ESPN but the fans in those forums are so harsh on our team that it will make any Barca fan cry.They find Barcelona arrogant and stupid(seriously I rolled on the floor after reading those comments).I try to repeat “Haters gonna Hate” but the fans in goal.com are cruel and break my confidence.I’ve stopped reading Goal.com or ESPN but I sometimes feel that other than in Barca forums,fans dont have respect for Barca.If Manchester United loses no fan says anything against them.But it is never the case with Barca.
    But still Barca is the best and they will silence critics soon.

    1. All that vile commentary comes with the territory. Doesn’t matter if it’s Barca, ManU, Milan, or any other team. Best just to ignore the silliness and not let it get to you.

    2. To be perfectly honest, I think there is some truth to the statement. I know there are arrogant fans at every club, but the current prevalence of Barca in the media means that the arrogance isn’t dismissed (if you’re arrogant and your team is tenth in the table…it doesn’t really give your argument much credence, and you are probably ignored).

      On top of that, some of the things that players say can be interreted as arrogance even when there is an element of truth to what is being said. I think Xavi said after the cup final that only one team was trying to play football (regardless of whether he actually said it or not, which I think he did, that’s what was reported in the media). Statements like that, especially after a loss, can easily come across as a lack of humility and bad losing.

      I don’t read goal.com or espn comments, so I don’t know to what degree these ideas are being expressed…but it could explain some of the sentiments.

  12. I just turned on the Liverpool game and Hlebbed myself. 🙁

    This is going to be a bad day.

  13. My lineup would look a little like this today:

    Montoya Pique Fontas Maxwell
    Thiago Mascherano Keita
    Pedro Messi Afellay.

    Like it or not Messi will probably start. I’m just praying he gets some rest

    1. Definitely a B lineup. Casillas isn’t even on the bench.

      Mou has clearly given up on the Liga and is resting his top players for the CL.

    2. Yeah, Iker face in effect. Valencia’s goalkeeper, Guaita, totally blew it and gifted Real a goal. Well placed shot by Benzema, though.

  14. Torres benched. Tee hee. 😛

    actually I have nothing against him, I just think it’s funny. And I loathe Chelsea.

  15. Now I’m seriously worried. “B-team” Madrid cruising, Kaka Higuain Benzema all scored.

    1. I say this from the bottom of my heart…

      the world seems to turn 180 degrees…

      EE looks so powerful and strong atm, like Barcelona in Nov – Des 2010…

      what a great time to reach the peak performance, eh?


  16. someone please explain to me, how come Valencia, in their own home ground, lost 0-4 at half time?

    they managed to keep the scoreline 0-0 at Bernahbeeww until they were down to 10 men in 70 minutes or something…

    is EE so ******* great or Valencia’s defending so ******* horrible?

  17. I dont get it. I really dont. How can the same team that played so well against us play so badly against Madrid. It just doesnt make sense. Why wouldnt they put in the same effort against Madrid? Why arent they pressing? Why arent they defending well. It is infuriating to watch. Its like the only teams that seem to want to beat Madrid are the Sportings. I bet you Villareal and Sevilla do the same shit.

    1. Exactly. We talked about how they still need to play away against Athetic, Valencia, Sevilla, Villareal. Well they already beat two very very easily.

      I’m keeping my pessimism in check. Let’s see how (and who) we play tonight and Wednesday’s first leg. We’ll know better afterwards.

    2. they played one hell of a match at EE’s stadium…

      that’s why I don’t understand, how come they be so bad in front of their own supporters?

  18. from la liga loca, before EE match :

    Will be a lot of hindsight writing tomorrow in Spain. If Barca/RM win/lose having rested players then coach is genius/idiot.

  19. Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Mascherano Milito Maxwell – Thiago Busquets Keita – Afellay Villa Jeffren

    1. Apparantly Puyol and Pique are in the stands.

      Hopefully Villa gets rested the second half along with Alves if we manage to go up.

    2. Not really. 😀

      More Maschy as CB. Maxi getting reps and Keita watching his back when the Brazilian decides on moving forward. Thiago! Jeffren gets another chance after switching shampoos. Villa as center forward. Afellay gets a chance on the wing.

    3. I think he’s gonna surprise us all and pin it back or rock a Ronaldinho-esque headband.

  20. Official Line-up: Valdés, Alves, Mascherano, Milito, Maxwell, Sergio, Thiago, Keita, Jeffren, Afellay and Villa

    No rest for Villa…tee hee…

    1. I love this lineup. Pique, Puyol aren’t even on the bench. the one thing that really bothers me is..

      FONTAS STILL HASN’T PLAYED SINCE BECOMING A BARCELONA MEMBER. What the fuck? He’s trying Masch at CB more, good call, but Fontas next to him? c’mon.

      Thiago-Keita-Busquets is an interesting combination. I love the front three too, Villa MUST SCORE today.

    2. exactly…extremely disappointed Fontas won’t play as a starter…

      I really thought Pep will give him a chance tonight…

  21. I’m wondering if Villa starting today means Pep might drop him against Madrid next week?? Interesting Lineup

  22. I am happy to see Kaka do that though, he’s back. Gotta love Kaka. surely everyone is backing RM to beat Barcan now? barca underdogs? 🙂

  23. I will stop being a lurker for one second and say:
    This is our end!

    Higuain is back, the perfect counter-attack striker!

    And what the effing hell is going on with Valencia, you damn b*******s ?!?

    I don’t watch the match, but according to German live-ticker, Real Madrid plays the perfect match. With a B team!
    Their confidence will be sky-high on Wednesday, I guess we are doomed :'(

    And I though we could wrap up the title roday as a boost for the CL. Right now, I’m super-pessimistic, we’ll probably not even win today 🙁

    *back to lurker-mode*

  24. Oh, for goodness sake. If watchng RM is going to get everyone into such a tizzy, please don’t watch them! Are they playing well? I can only assume so, seeing as they’re 6-1 up right now, but lets not prophesy doom and gloom all over the place.

    Trust the team, folks.

  25. Sid Lowe : Holy shit, RM 5-0 up against Valencia. Higuain hat-trick. Largely a “B”(!)Team playing. Strongest squad ever?

    drooling over Barcelona? think again, Bassam…

    Helge is having a nervous breakdown…
    I will, too…if we don’t win tonight…

    1. Pique, yes. Puyol is questionable at the moment and I expect it to remain that way until the lineup for Wednesday’s game is announced.

  26. Why would we be doomed? If anything Barca is better with the so called “odds” against them. Not happy for Kaka either. I loathe Kaka >={

  27. Nerdyyy David
    Real Madrid collect €130m + in TV money, Valencia collect roundabout €45m. They’d have fancy reserves too if there was actual parity…

    1. Eh, Valencia have one of the strongest squads in the league. Emery never starts the same lineup, anyway. There’s no excuse.

    2. Or if Valencia hadn’t wasted all their money and built another stadium that would go unused and had to sell all their best players.

  28. RM are just too good. We’re all gonna die :P… Seriously guys open your eyes and watch the game. The scoreline is down to Valencias idiocy more then RMs’ brilliance. Besides if they played an attacking formation such as this against us well…Ya know 5-0 and everything.

    Valencia just scored :D.

  29. Well I did say after last Saturday’s Clasico that Real had grabbed the psychological advantage over us. Few agreed.
    What a moment they’ve picked to hit form, eh?

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