You probably made a New Year’s resolution.
It’s probably already laying on the ash heap of intention, a fire caused by a collision between reality and that joyful way in which man always thinks the best of himself. “This year I will keep that resolution to loseweightbebettercleanupnotburnEEshirtsinmyHibachi.”
And once again, it’s March and you’re thinking, “You just wait ’til next year.”
Well, I kept my New Year’s resolution. Both of them, actually. The first was to not make a New Year’s resolution. The second was …. well …. to make one. To absolutely, thoroughly, with every fiber of my being, HATE the first match after an international friendly.
The opponent is, for me, immaterial. Could be EE, could be the Saracens, could be a bunch of guys who claim that Wilfred the Hairy was a sucky king.
In this case, the opponent is Sporting Gijon or, as I affectionately know them, Hee Hon. This, of course, is for the same reason that Seydou Keita defaults in my mind to “Keiteeeee!” Because it’s just fun to say. It’s also, to continue this crazy aside, why I am looking forward to Kiko Femenia starting pre-season with the first team, so that I can say “Keeeeekooooo!” Fun.
Anyhow. Hee Hon, at the Camp Nou, has a record of futility that pre-dates the reign of Wilfred the Hairy. It’s plenty o’ nuthin’, as Porgy would sing. None of which makes me any more comfortable with this match, for so many reasons:
–As usual, #&$*%$! international friendlies never are, to us. So Thiago pulled up lame with a wee knock in practice. Shin pain. So you’d better believe, after what happened with David Villa and HIS shin pain, that alarm bells are ringing like klaxons among the FCB medical staff. Les Bleus, after continuing their domination of Germany (no jokes about World Wars here, dammit!), returned to us a crocked Le Roi Eric. “Et voila. Je suis desolee, et bon chance!” Busquets is suspended. Messi is suspended. The vending lady is suspended. Tito Vilanova’s shoes are the wrong size.
–There’s still quite a bit riding on this match, if you believe, as many of us do, that there is still a chance that we can make up the 10-point difference on EE. That means we can afford to drop …. let’s see about my math skills here …. zero points. As in none. Even a draw would make a difficult task next to impossible, assuming that Espanyol, in a collective finger flicked at what the world considers to be the real (vs Real) Catalan footballing side, will belly up vs EE tomorrow.
–Hee Hon have been noshing on fragrant delicacies, training, and waiting, while our players have been jetting hither and yon to satisfy various international demands. About the only ones who didn’t were a few Bs and Keiteeee!, who is just back from African Cup of Nations. Yes, they sit 19th in the table, with a record of 5-6-13, boasting a +/- of -23. This means that me, Isaiah, both SoccerMoms and Kari can roll out there and probably get in that ass, all proper-like.
Except it never works out that way, does it?
All of this is why I hate the opponent after an international break. Yes, I know that we have a gaudy record. But you also know that good cules will be given a pile of 100-Euro notes, and wonder when they are going to be robbed.
On paper, this is a gimme. But I hate gimmes. I don’t believe in them.
Who will start? Dunno. This isn’t a preview, so I don’t really have any obligation to discuss such things. This is, instead, a chronicle of one man’s hatred of the complexities that arise from stupid, stupid obligations. Who do I think will start? If you had to hold my tootsies to the fire, I suspect:
Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano, Keiteeee!, Xaviniesta, Fabregas, Tello, Sanchez. That’s what I would do. Which means that’s not what Guardiola will do. Problem is that there aren’t a whole lot of players we CAN start. Pedro? Okay, sure. Why not? Then bring Cuenca or Tello in for a match that needs changing. Johnny Two-Time in midfield? You’ll see me doing a naked saber dance before you see him starting.
On the other hand, if Guardiola really thinks that the Liga is lost, given the looming Champions League home leg against Bayer Leverkusen, perhaps we might see:
Valdes, Montoya, Pique, Muniesa, Adriano, Keita, Dos Santos, Fabregas, Tello, Cuenca, Pedro.
Or not. Dammit.