International Fixtures and Barça

International fixtures appear to be piling up and the on-field minutes seem to be adding up for individual players as well. Will Xavi play 90 minutes or 180 against Scotland? He is capable of doing that, you know. But how much will the domestic leagues be disrupted over the next year?

Here are the FIFA fixtures:

11-15 November International match days
08-18 December FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011

21 January – 12 February Africa Cup of Nations 2012
29 February Friendly match day
23 April Play-Off (AFC v CAF)
01-05 June International match days
08-12 June International match days
08 June – 01 July UEFA EURO 2012 Poland/Ukraine
15 August Friendly match day
07-11 September International match days
12-16 October International match days
14 November Friendly match day

Early in 2013 is another Africa Cup of Nations (the 2012 version is in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and the 2013 version in South Africa), but I haven’t included 2013 dates because the full schedule doesn’t appear to be out. From now until December 2012, there are 3 sets of matchday during the season and a few matchdays in June after the domestic season is over. Barça is also affected by the Club World Cup in December, but that’s a different ball of wax.

I also like the Friday/Tuesday thing they’ve got going on and I think that further reduces the load on the clubs by giving some recuperation time one the players are back. What are your thoughts on this? Is it too much time away from the clubs? Not enough? And what about the Friday-Tuesday thing? Is that better or worse?

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. FWIW:


    for playoffs, 4 matches, winner advances:

    Seeds: Portugal, Croatia, Czech Republic, Turkey
    Unseeded: Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Estonia

    Lets assume the seeds all win.

    The pots for the group stage of euro 2012 would then be:

    Pot One: Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Netherlands
    Pot Two: Germany, England, Italy, Croatia
    Pot Three: Russia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden
    Pot Four: France, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey

    There could conceivably be a group made up of Spain, Italy, (or Germany or England), Portugal and France.


  2. Off topic. I don’t think it matters which coach Argentina have. With these players they will not go anywhere. Mediocre, to say the least.

    1. Yea but what has Pastore done to 3 successive managers that he never even gets a sub in? Is sosa the new gutierrez experiment?

    2. They can solve some of the defensive problems by moving Masch back there. Maybe then we could see Pastore in the mid. Del Bosque uses some of Pep’s ideas, why can’t the Argentina coaches?

  3. The ref for the Mexico-Brazil match is a joke. He should have made a call for the foul on Marcelo near the box! Someone please explain the hype around chicharrito. I don’t see what’s so great about him.

    1. That’s not so awesome lol 😉 Ronaldinho scored the equalizer a few mins ago..such a great golazo 🙂

  4. A few thoughts on the Spain-Scotland match:

    –Raul Albiol, please take a permanent seat on the bench. Jordi Alba will be your more-than-capable replacement. A strong performance and a goal assist in his first appearance. Good for him.
    –If you hadn’t realized it already, this is the game that proved that Spain plays better without Xabi Alonso. The speed of the ball circulation between Busi, Xavi, Santi, and Silva was preposterous. Scotland hardly got a look in until Xavi & Silva were subbed off. And speaking of which.
    –What a fantastic game for David Silva. Even if he hadn’t scored twice, he was absolutely brilliant from start to finish. THAT, Bojan, is how you take the chances given you. VDB must have sleepless nights trying to figure out how to give all these talented players the minutes they deserve.
    –I don’t care if Torres never plays for Spain again. They are better without him.
    –Valdes will be unhappy not to have kept a clean sheet, but it was his own fault. He had an excellent game up until that silly penalty.
    –Naismith is rather good, isn’t he?
    –Santi Cazorla was very unlucky not to score, an excellent game for him as well.
    –Pedro is getting his mojo back, step by step.
    –props to Scotland, they weren’t bad at all, especially in the second half. When they managed to get the ball off the Spanish players, they put together some nice attacks, and they never gave up even though you could tell they were exhausted by around the 60th minute. And their fans were brilliant.
    –Villa with 50 goals!!!!!! And wearing the armband at the end!!!! 😀

    So we are through international break with no major injuries? Hallelujah!

    1. I thought this game, especially in the first half, was the best game I’ve seen Spain played in a while. Del Bosque should reconsider the double-pivot and perhaps use Silva or Cesc as false nine instead of going with a traditional 9. The defense in the first half also looked stable. It was good to see pique and puyol rekindled their partnership 🙂

      Also, I watched the latest episode of espn presspass and urghhh!!! Tommy Smyth and Shaktar Hislop (?) had no idea what they were saying. According to them, Germany are better than Spain because they’re young and have more depth. My eyes were rolling uncontrollably when I heard that. they should do their research before they start yapping. The most ridiculous part was the strength in depth. Seriously, these people have not seen Spain’s bench. I’m just ranting b/c I can’t believe people are getting paid to talk nonsense.

      Argentina look awful. I think Messi and Masche should retire from international football. Defense and midfield suck and they don’t play as a unit whatsoever.
      Brazil look ok, not good enough yet and Dani got a sent off.

    2. I got the impression that Silva was playing as a false 9, at the tip of a diamond midfield, with Villa and Pedro as wingers.

      Notice also how the Spanish game became much less fluid when Llorente came on. He is just too used to being the big man up front.

      Speaking of which, it looked like Pique decided to play as a CF for a bit there! He almost scored, too.

    3. I wish that the Esp game had happened after the Arg game. It would have healed part of my football soul that was left frazzled by 90 minutes of Argentina’s long passes to nobody, short passes to the other team, and chaos in the back.

      How awesome was Jordi Alba? Spain plays better with Catalan LBs (I miss Capdevila).

      Didja notice how much fun Villa was having playing midfielder after Xavi’s substitution?

      You’re right. Llorente looked lost up there. I guess there will be times when VdB will need to say go in there and be tall, but not often.

      Soooo, Xavi is the captain when Iker isn’t playing. The armband passed to Villa and not Ramos after Xavi’s substitution (he had better not be hurt!!!). Is this a VdB concession after the classico awfullness?

    4. I miss Capdevila too. Not so much for his on-field skills as for his wonderful personality. The Villarreal dressing room must be a much less joyful place this season without him and Cazorla.

      Didja notice how much fun Villa was having playing midfielder after Xavi’s substitution?

      Well I certainly noticed how he has incorporated the tracking back and defensive skills he has learned at Barcelona into his international game. And his one-touch passing has improved immensely. That pass to Alba for the assist on Silva’s first goal was sweet.

      Regarding the armband, Xavi is the second captain after Casillas, and Puyol is the third. If neither of them is in play the armband goes to the player on the field with the most caps, in this case Villa. Torres and Ramos have also both worn it, also Marchena but he wasn’t called up. I suspect Iniesta would be in there somewhere as well.

  5. “Euler: But outside of set pieces, I have real concerns about the utilization of markov chains to model football. There are real issues with its conceptual validity, IMO. In general, I don’t think the markov property holds in football (or the degree to which it holds calls into question fundamental model assumptions.)
    Perhaps I don’t fully understand her whole approach – but from what I saw of it, I have questions.”

    The only drawback of Markov Chains is that they are memory-less and hence the previous states don’t matter but only the current one does.

    In terms of football the only problem this has is that say Xavi played the ball to Pedro on the right which caused the defense to shift towards right leaving Villa in the space on the left. And hence the state changed because of a previous move, ie Xavi’s pass trying to stretch defense & cause gaps.

    Other than longer moves in which each action is not done for allowing the ball holder to score a goal but for things such as
    1. spreading the defense or reseting
    2. going back to the defense to build a move again because at one point possession and preventing the opponent from scoring are more important

    I think it works pretty well as an measure. The beauty of this if as I said in my comment on her blog is that it’s limitation is only data and how states are defined.

    IMO it’s best use would be in to give credit for decision making since making a decision depends on the current state rather than previous.

    1. *mom4 does her best Keita “Huh?” “What?” face*

      Oh, math. Well why the heck not? We’ve discussed thermodynamic equilibrium and angular momentum here. Carry on kids.

  6. wow so it was Busquets who was responsible for Albiol’s cracked cheek?
    Wonder how Marca’ll spin this one!

  7. Few thoughts on Argentina Venezuela match:

    – Venezuela absolutely deserved to win. They were better than Argentina in every aspect of the game. Rondon was the best player on the pitch by a distance. They definitely are not the minnows in the group.
    – Argentina have horrible defenders. They had five defenders for most of match and all of them were average/poor. Rojo had too much time but was unable to do anything. Zabaleta committed so many times without getting the ball. I have now wondered for last three years on how does Demichelis still get games for Argentina. I continue to wonder. Burdisso and Otamandi were average. Even before the goal, it was clear that Argentina were in trouble everytime ball was lifted in the box.
    – Argentina’s forward line played well considering that they did not have any support for most of the match.
    – I love Mascherano as a player but after having watched him for most of his career, only time he plays effective in midfield is if he is part of double pivot with a ball playing player. Either Sabella couple Masch with Banega or move him in defense. Playing as part of mid 3 or 4 is not using Masch as the best.
    – I have supported Argentina for my entire life and hence i can sadly say that with this lot, they are unlikely to win anything. Not because of lack of individual quality (maybe partly). Simple facts for Argentina teams for last few years have been: mediocre defense and lot of players unable to control the ball instantly or pass the ball accurately. Weight of so many passes is off for so many players that it is difficult to think of them as great team.

    To conclude though, am not too worried about Argies going to Brazil. The format is challenging and they have enough chances. They also have great players who are much more effective when playing counter attacking football so they will get points. Worry is that the team has too many average/bad ball players and defense which just sucks. Hope Sabella is able to come up with better plan for next set of games.

    1. My problem with Argentina (and I’ve watched them since ’98) is that they win some games convincingly, only to lift our expectations and theirs. They generally manage to screw up the following game.
      I’m actually starting to give up on them. From 2002 to 2005 i didn’t watch a single game and I saved myself from ulcers. I started watching them again from 2006 to now, mainly because I thought Messi would change something. That clearly hasn’t worked. So I don’t think I will watch another Argentina game for a long time.
      Losing is not a problem to me. But playing like San Marino with the players we have it’s embarrassing.

  8. I’ve been hearing rumors that Xavi was substituted last night with a muscle injury. Can anyone confirm or deny this? (Of course I would prefer if you could deny it).

  9. For people who were interested in this whole Del Nido revolution, I’d like to tell you that Liverpool are starting a revolution on their own. They want to exactly do what we have here in La Liga. They just announced they want to break away from the collective deal and start marketing their own games so they can get a bigger cut.

  10. I don’t believe I wasted 90 whole precious minutes of my life watching Argentina last night. When was he gonna put Messi in to save the…oh, right 🙁

  11. Wait…Abidal got injured??? ARGH!

    Don’t think Xavi’s injury is anything much, he was laughing on the bench and not getting any treatment right after he was subbed off. probably just a precaution.

  12. So Messi and Bojangles are 4th cousins, apparently. Wish we had known this before we sold him to Roma. How much more do you think we could have gotten for him? 😛

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