TV details updated!
Liga Preview: Xerez – Barça, Wednesday 4pmEST, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes (check your local time)
Off to Andalusia we role, the land of Moorish influence, of packed beaches, and brilliant sun. I hope Don Andres remembers his sunscreen. And yeah, I know it’s a night game, but come on, he’s called Ghostface for multiple reasons. The city of Jerez de la Frontera (pop 205,000+) is situated just northeast of Cadiz, close to the coast, but not on it. It is apparently known for its sherry (jerez in Spanish), but I know it more as the home of the team I used to play in FIFA06, back when you couldn’t just choose what team you wanted to manage in Season mode. I took little Xerez CD from the basement of the Segunda to the thrilling heights of the Champions League trophy in just 3 short seasons and snobby FC Barcelona still wouldn’t hire me. So I quit that stupid game.*
The name Xerez comes from the Arabic name for Jerez; Wikipedia is incomplete on the history of the city, so I can only surmise that it was the Moors who founded the city, which later added “de la Frontera” to its name when it came under Christian/Castilian control before the Reconquista made it not near a frontier. For whatever reason, Jerez CD became known as Xerez CD in the 1960s and the name has stuck.
Their stadium is the Chapín, a 20,300 seat stadium with a track around its field. The field itself is smaller than that of the Camp Nou at 112×64 yards (as compared to 115×74) so spacing discipline will have to be at a premium. I’m not sure what their lineup will be like, but let’s just say that they have a player named Sidi Yaya Keita. I am not fucking kidding. I am so scared to face him no matter what anyone says about skill level or overall team brilliance, his name is Yaya Keita. How can he not be awesome to the Ultra Extreme?
They also have this kid named Victor Sanchez, but I don’t believe he’s played in a while and might be injured. I’d love to see him play against us, much as I enjoyed watching Henrique and Botia play; I’d love to see him do well, in fact, but I don’t want him to get any ideas about beating us, just keep it on the “VicSan had a nice game” level and we’ll all be happy.
Our squad list: Valdés, Pinto, Abidal, Alves, Maxwell, Puyol, Chygtronic, Márquez, The Yaya, Xavi, Don Andres, Bojan, Pedro!, Jeffren, JDS, Henry, Keiteeeee, Messi, Ibra.
There is no Pique, Milito, or the suspended Busi, so I expect the following lineup:
Valdés, Alves, Márquez, Chygnasty, Maxwell, The Yaya, Xavi, Keita, Pedro!, Henry, Messi.
This is a clearly weakened lineup, but let’s look at why:
Xerez: 1W-4D-7L (4GF, 21GA)
Barça: 9W-3D-0L (30GF, 8GA)
Xerez: 1W-2D-3L (3GF, 8GA)
Barça: 3W-3D-0L (10GF, 3GA)
The overall stats point to a total thrashing (like 4-0 or 5-0 kind of asskicking), but the home vs away stats point to a draw, oddly enough. The thing is, Xerez are in last place and I don’t see us missing out on thrashing the last placed team in the league. We have a tough game at Depor on Saturday followed by a trip to Dynamo Kiev a week from tomorrow, so resting some of our stars is imperative. For that reason, I hope we can get Xavi off the field early and put JDS out there.
These three points, though, are where you win and lose championships, so making sure we get all of them is much more crucial than some might think. Because we’re the only teams playing, we’ll have a game in hand until we head off to the UAE to play in the World Cup of Clubs. Putting extra pressure on Madrid to keep up with us is definitely the way I’d like to go, since any slip of theirs after we have already won will widen the gap between us all the more. It’s still early days, of course, but every point we pick up now is a point we can avoid having to make up later.
Official Prediction: 0-2, goals by Pedro! and The Yaya, just to bring the house down. Well, my house anyway.
Let’s do it!
Game time: 10pm local/Jerez, 4pm EST/NYC (check your local time)
TV: Appears to be unavailable in the US, but might preempt “Jorge Ramos y Su Banda” on ESPN Deportes. Looks like live streams for us Americans. UPDATE! It will be shown live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes; it will be on ESPN2HD, but doesn’t appear to actually be in HD.
Weather: 59F (15C), 20% chance of rain with some fair to heavy cloud cover.
*For those of you interested in such things, the detail I remember from all those seasons was that in the very first one, my poor budget couldn’t purchase Ronaldinho, who instead of going from PSG to Barça went to, get this, Ipswich Town. He stayed there for all three of those seasons, toiling away in the Championship or whatever it was called and just wouldn’t accept a transfer away from them, no matter how much money was thrown at him. Hilarious.