Oranges are Acidic: Barça – Valencia

What IS this thing?

Liga Preview: Barça-Valencia, Sunday 2pm ESPN2HD/ESPN360

I have a thing against teams represented by oranges. Bitter, horrible memories associated with 2003 and the Syracuse-Kansas NCAA Men’s Division 1 basketball tournament championship game are really what keeps my hatred rolling. And the thing is, I kind of like Valencia in that secondary team sort of way. They’re fun to watch, generally play an open, flowing game. But I hate them. They are orange, after all.

And sure, they’re associated with bats, which Kevin discussed before, but that association is just a sleight of hand: los che are oranges and we all know it. They’re also an incredibly dangerous team that drew us at zeroes when we visited the Mestalla earlier this season—and yes, I recognize how funny it is that, as I discuss their scoring prowess, two of the most dangerous teams in the Primera had a scoreless draw. Anyone who watched that match, though, should know that it was surprising that no one scored and especially surprising that Valencia didn’t score.

Despite Barça’s upcoming Wednesday date with Stuttgart, this match isn’t until Sunday because Valencia had a Europa League match with Werder Bremen yesterday (Thursday),* which necessitates a non-Saturday date. So hopefully the snow that has inundated Barcelona is gone by then or, at the very least, the Camp Nou field is in good enough condition to facilitate some serious pass-and-move triangles.

Speaking of which: can we have some freakin’ pass-and-move triangles? It’s been a while, you know. Not that I’m upset or anything about this. Breath.

So, then, let’s compare the teams:

Barça: 19W-5D-1L (61GF, 16GA)
Valencia: 13W-8D-4L (42GF, 26GA)

Barça: 11W-1D-0L (34GF, 8GA)
Valencia: 7W-3D-3L (21GF, 15GA)

That is fairly suggestive that this should be a victory for Barça, but, as we all know, teams come to play us with everything they’ve got. Only that Thursday match with Werder Bremen will really give us any kind of advantage. We can probably outwork them for 90 minutes and get away with one, but Valencia are not one to “perdonar” (forgive) easy chances like other teams in La Liga. They will bury that which we give them—their misses in the Mestalla were anomalies—and they will make us pay dearly for any silly mistakes we make anywhere on the field. Yes, three teams have scored more goals they have and we are one of those three teams, but another way to look at it is that only three teams have scored more goals than they have. Only two teams have allowed fewer (Osasuna is tied with them) and sure, we’re one of them, but then again, Almería stole points off of us just last week.

Speaking of form coming in, both teams have recently lost to Atletico Madrid, with Valencia having been hammered 4-1 at the Calderon in a controversial match that resulted in punishment against the ref (who wasn’t anti-Valencia or anti-Atleti, but was instead just pathetically terrible). Then they drew 0-0 this past weekend against Racing and lost defender David Navarro to a red card. Because they’ve got a 4-point cushion over 4th-placed Mallorca (!) and 5th-placed Sevilla, they won’t be super desperate for points, but they’ll certainly be gunning for them. Our scalp is, of course, very prized in this post-sextuplet year.

As for us, we enter having lost to Atleti, then gone on to win matches against Racing and Malaga, then drawing away to Almería. While this slight dip in form has dropped us (temporarily) to second in the league (thanks, Sevilla), more importantly it has deprived us of both Guardiola on the sideline and Ibra on the field. Obviously terrible ref calls are part of the game and we should be able to win with only Guardiola’s cell-phone instructions (how is that legal?) and with Bojan and Pedro! up front alongside Messi (I’m assuming Henry will not play because of his recent Achilles problems).

We do, however, get back Pique, which is big, despite Puyol and Milito’s obvious talents. Before the Almería match last week, there were several commenters on this site that suggested Puyol and Milito are too similar to be effective. This is, perhaps, shown by the 2-2 final scoreline of that match, but I’m still not sure I totally buy it—I would just say that Pique is better than Milito. Pique, then, should replace one of those two players. I could easily see it being el Capitan, who has had back problems throughout the week, but he’s generally miraculously good to go when kickoff rolls around. Not that I’m suggesting he’s doping…or that owning sheep helps with injuries.

The major questions for us are going to be in midfield and attack. Given that we have a midweek encounter that Ibra is available for, I suspect that Bojan will get the start and at least most of, if not all, the available minutes. Some think that without Ibra we move more fluidly; I think that is true to a certain extent, but we’re also not as creative and blaming the lack of fluidity while he is on the field entirely on Ibra forgets a couple of important factors: 1) he’s incapable of playing by himself, thus some of the blame must be given to his teammates and 2) the people that we’re saying help move the ball around more fluidly have been in the system for, on average, their entire lives. That’s not an insignificant detail. It’s the reality of having canteranos playing a system ostensibly since birth.

Still, if we have a midfield of Busi-Xavi-Iniesta and a forward three of Bojan-Pedro!-Messi, we’ll have more “fluidity” but less ability to take the hard fouls that you know are coming from Marchena and company. And that, of course, leaves it up to the ref to either call the fouls or let them go, which means we’re at the mercy of someone else rather than controlling our own destiny. Naturally we’ll create chances, but we’ll also give the ball away needlessly more often with Bojan, Busi, and Pedro! on the field. Wouldn’t you feel more confident with Ibra on the field? I can’t see how you wouldn’t and that’s despite my love for Bojan.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Maxwell, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan, Pedro, Messi.

I know, I know. I can already hear what you’re thinking: Valdes in goal? Are you mad? But the thing is, I have confidence in VV.

Joking aside, this time around I’m trying to guess Guardiola’s lineup rather than put out who I would. You know that’s true because The Yaya isn’t out there—though he’s been off his game recently, for whatever reason—and I would also start Henry if he was healthy enough. I think the same is true of Guardiola, but we’ll have to wait and see about that. We also don’t tend to look forward to midweek matches by resting players, but instead actually start our midweek starters to give them game reps or whatever the theory there is (keep them from going stale?).

Something else worth considering is that Keita could make an appearance at some point after training with the first team on Friday for the first time in a month. That’s pretty great news for our quickly-tiring team. I don’t know that Guardiola will risk him this weekend, especially if he plans on using him against Stuttgart, but it’s possible that he’ll make a substitute appearance late in the game against Valencia, especially if we have the match well in hand.

TV: this bad boy is on ESPN2HD and ESPN360 in the US. Hells to the yeah.
Time: Sunday, 7pm local/Barcelona time; 11am Pacific/Puerto Vallarta (me!) time; check your local time hereBe aware of the time change in the US, spring forward is this Saturday night/Sunday morning.


*Yes, I’m writing this on Friday for a Sunday match. It’s called planning. Actually, it’s called me going on a short vacation over the next several days, so I’m writing things early, but whatever. Hush.

And now for your finale:

Leave now. You are suspended.

By Isaiah

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


  1. Titi and Seydou to be subbed on with half an hour left, me thinks.

    P.S. It’s sleight of hand. 😉

  2. For me, again, give Henry a shot at CF, if he is fit. He has an intelligence that neither Pedro nor Bojan have in terms of making runs and we are going to win didley if we can’t somehow get him going. Is he fit?

    1. If he is fit I’d like him on the left. Opens the field, and since we dont have abidal to make those runs, we’d desperately need it.

  3. I have mixed feelings towards Marchena- on the one hand hes a diver and dirty to boot but hes a very clever and crafty character who often gets away with things

  4. Isaiah…


    gotta represent BMore.

    ps – I’d go ahead and vote for YAYA in the middle. Not because I’m a closet obsessor, but because I legitimately think his muscle int he midfield is going to help us keep it together. He’s gotta keep it simple on defense, but I’m still desiring those wiry runs into the final third where defenders either sit back, or collapse on him, allowing space for others.

    I hope Villanova goes with our Ivorian.

    1. Check out this MD community. We’ll have to figure something out in the spring to watch the CL final if we’re there.

  5. PUYOL!? DOPING!? ARE YOU MAD!! WTF!!!!! haha no, just joking. nice preview as always. i cant believe pep AND ibra’s suspensions were upheld. that is what i call BS. strangely similar to AS. hmm…yes, axing Pellegrini would be great. i definitely see reason. sarcasm is great BTW.

  6. i remember earlier this season when we had two forwards unavailable; guardiola opted to play iniesta on LW and did not play bojan. i guess at least if iniesta starts, it would mean that we have a midfield of busi-yaya-xavi… hmm, let’s bench bojan and start yaya!!!

  7. I have now given up on Iniesta at LW experiment and i hope Pep will too. I saw give the kid a chance. He deserves it.

  8. You don’t dare to make any prediction?

    According to Sport and AS, Marchena is not even on the bench. Guess he’s serving a two-match ban from his next to last match.
    David Navarro is also banned. Alexis could be injured, the same for David Villa. So neither their defense nor their attack will be in full power, we gotta win this convincingly!
    Here’s hoping for a 4-1 with goals from Messi (2), Banjo Crickets and Xavi.

  9. Ive watched every la liga game Valencia played this season and all ive got to say is they like to play in a 4-2-3-1. usually, villa up top, then silva mata and pablo(joaquin)- backed by benega, marchena- with a back line of Miguel, dealbert, alexis, and bruno. although injuries as of late make the back line hard to predict.

    im most worried about Ever Benega. the guy is crazy good. not afraid to foul at all the right times, and has a cannon of a shot. plus hes a tricky player. If he plays a good game consider us lucky to get a point.

    Maxwell and Miniesta, will have their hands full dealing with Pablo (who has been better then Joaquin as of late). Pablo is not afraid to make defender look like a greenhorn. Joaquin on the other hand i like to call “almost” as in hes sorta like messi. the guy will dribble/juke/move past three players with easy. then gets stuck on a blade of grass or something. that being said i think pablo will start.

    expect 60-70min sub by Alejandro Dominguez. the guy managed to make himself the go-to-sub for them as of late in the midfield. hes good, we should remember considering last season we played against him.

    we know what to expect from villa, and Silva and Mata.

    im thinking of a score line 2-1. two goals by baby bojan, and one by villa, cuz hes a f-ing machine.

  10. Villa has been called up, while Keita definitely won’t play.

    Also, Pep called Clos and Gallego liars. Where’s this refereeing thing going if they’re up to lying in their post-match reports now?!

    1. Villa being called up doesn’t have to say anything. I doubt that Valencia would risk playing him 90 minutes if he’s not fully fit, given the tough away match in Bremen on Thursday.
      But anyway, his replacement Chori Domniguez isn’t bad either. Valencia is damn fast on counter-attacks, our defense better be fully focussed tomorrow…

  11. The Yaya and Busi will play together again. Iniesta will once again move up as a non-striking striker.

  12. Anyone else see Guardiola tweaking the line-up a bit more for this one?
    We will need a double pivot in Busi and Yaya with Keita coming on at some point in the 2nd half. Besides that left flank of Valencia needs to be kept occupied so Guardiola could start Iniesta on the right and put Messi in the centre to create havoc as close to goal as possible. Pedro would keep his place on the left.

  13. Is United just playing really well this season, or is Rooney really as clinically good as people are saying? Doesn’t he have 30 goals or so in all competitions this season?

    1. I’ve been thinking about this same question recently as well. Rooney has scored 30 goals in 37 appearances this season. I think there are a couple of things that explain why Rooney is scoring so much and getting so much praise. Firstly, he is a really good player on a really good team. Secondly, let’s look at some numbers that are interesting, even if they only apply a little to Rooney’s goal scoring numbers.

      Last season goals/game, Man. United: 1.79
      This season goals/game, Man. United: 2.31

      Last season points/game, Man. United: 2.36
      This season points/game, Man. United: 2.17

      Last season goals/game, EPL: 2.48
      This season goals/game, EPL: 2.78

      Last season goals/game, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man. United: 1.87
      This season goals/game, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man. United: 2.35

      So what you asked about United playing really well this season isn’t necessarily true (they are averaging less points per game this season). However, their offense is scoring more than it did last season (by quite a bit, actually). This is inline with the general trend throughout the premier league (the numbers suggest that teams, especially the top three, are scoring quite a bit more than they did last season. This is evidenced by the 12% increase in goals/game. The point of all these numbers is that goal scoring in the EPL has increased. Likewise, United is scoring quite a bit more as well. Therefore, because United is scoring more, so is Wayne Rooney. This is basically a long winded way of say that since Ronaldo left, and since United are scoring more, Rooney necessarily is going to take a bigger share of that goal scoring.
      This is especially true when you consider the players he is surrounded by: none of Berbatov, Owen, Nani, or Valencia are exactly what would be called goal scorers. So United’s offense has to go through Rooney because he is the only player on the team capable of scoring goals in large quantities. A basketball equivalent of this is Kobe Bryant’s scoring numbers increasing when Shaq left. The Lakers were still going to score a lot of points, and since shaq was gone, Bryant’s numbers were sure to go up. United are still better than the rest of the EPL besides Chelsea and Arsenal, and are therefore going to score lots of goals still. Therefore, Rooney’s numbers will increase.

      Now as to whether “Rooney is really as clinical as people are saying”. I think that it is easy to read way to much into goal scoring statistics when judging who is better than whom. Yes, Rooney is scoring more goals than he was last year. He is scoring more goals per game than Messi is. Does that mean he is better than Messi? Absolutely not. To prove this point: Drogba has scored more goals per game than Rooney and Messi (33 in 27). Does this mean that Drogba is better than Messi and Rooney? Absolutely not. It means he is the focal point of an offense designed to make him score goals.

      I think the point I’m trying to make is that Rooney is having a good year in terms of scoring goals. But he is not the best player in the world because of it; there are lots of rational reasons to explain why he is scoring more.

    2. I completely agree here. I dont rate him as far as he is hailed in England (not even close). But I respect him a lot for being a fully dedicated team player. Its not easy to find a player of his qualities who accept to live under the shadows of Ronaldo. Doing the dirty job that Ronaldo refused to do and serving him to score and shine.

      Before the CL final I said that its not Ronaldo who worries me at Man Utd, its Rooney. This season he showed how far he sacrificed for Ronaldo/the Team.

    3. Whst knocks me out about Rooney is the way that he’s scoring goals, not just how many. He’s working like a dog, and running his heart out. I don’t know that he is as talented as his numbers would lead you to believe, but he understands the value of hard work as a talent bridge.

      He scores so many goals in which he made a play or pass on the defensive end, then is the runner on the offensive end. To make those lung-busting, length-of-pitch runs time and again speaks to a player’s work ethic.

      It’s why when the rumors (that nobody took seriously) about him coming this summer came up, I went all woozy. I’d take that dude on the wing in about 2 seconds, over anybody else that comes to mind.

    4. and he is scoring from all parts of his body.
      it was something like this;
      right foot= 14
      left foot= 6
      header= 10
      that is really impressive! and for the last 4 goals or so, it was all headers.
      i would also take him in anytime, he works like a mad man like etoo did.

  14. You would think if he was the main man – which he seems to be – that teams would man mark him wouldn’t you? Or are they doing that and he’s still good enough?

    1. Well, if you look at today’s match and his goal, Fulham didn’t mark him at all, that was pathetic defending and a gift for Rooney… I personally think that even if Rooney scores more goals than CR did 2 years ago or Messi last year, he’s still not quite as good as those two are.

  15. On a bit of a tangent has anyone downloaded the Barcelona app for the iPhone? Could be good but for me a few bugs atm. Paragraphs in each story seem to be repeated.

    Also, I was surfing earlier today and came across the old reports of the proposed developments to the Camp Nou including the increase in seating to over 100,000. Has anything happened or have they been shelved?

    1. Didn’t hear anything about it since quite a time, but for me it wouldn’t make sense to enlarge the Camp Nou. There might be 2, or at best 3 matches per season where the stadium is actually sold out. From an economical point of view, it’s useless.
      I can also remember an architect who presented a new stadium with a capacity of 150.000, which should have been built on an artificial island next to Barcelona harbour. It certainly looked great, but the costs were sky-high, the ticket prices would still increase and in 80% of our matches, the stadium would only be half packed. I’m fine with the Camp Nou as it is right now. Maybe a renovation, but no need to change the capacity, imo.

    2. As for the fantacy project (Emil Vidal design), this is it:



      But it wasnt a serious plan. The foster project was the aproved one. But the financial challenges forced the board to think twice.

    3. the EMil Vidal design should only be done in places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. they have the money for it. well, Dubai not anymore

  16. Thanks, Ramzi. Is it ( the sensible one ) abandoned completely then or just put off for now? You’d think we would have the money and the stadium is in need of some renovation. The plan looked great and very logical as it wouldn’t have meant much loss of use while it was being modified.

  17. Go Cuse! although they have been in a bit of a slump, losing their last two games. The bigger problem is that Onuaku is injured – this could be a major problem for us.

    Concerning Barca – I hope we see Yaya tomorrow. I’m also hoping for a front line of Henry – Bojan – Messi.

  18. LiveBloggers wanted!.

    If anyone is able to run the LiveBlog, raise your hand, and I will get you set up. My real job calls, so I will be sitting at a desk in the service of duty, humanity and journalism.

    1. I feel the same way. Maybe the tie last week and EE’s loss to Lyon will serve as a wake up call.

      That and maybe these will pump them up:


  19. In the “good news” category, Guardiola said in the press conference that Henry looked like “the old Titi,” and has had one of his best weeks of practice this season. Might have to revise my Krkic/Messi/Pedro! starting front line contention.

  20. Did you guys see how serious Pep was when he said Clos Gomez and the assistant ref were liars? The video is on Sport. I knew he lied after I saw the video evidence on Deportes Cuatro, but the seriousness in Pep’s voice removed all doubt.

  21. we will win by a narrow margin tomorrow. 3-2? 2-1? 1-0?

    I wanna see 3 goals from Henry again if he plays.

  22. Here’s the video of Pep being sent off and then talking with the assistant coach on the iPhone:


  23. Repeating the request to see if anyone is available to run the LiveBlog. Not only today, but for the Stuttgart match. Otherwise I can just set up match comments posts for both. Isaiah is on vacation, Hector is off consulting the ancient runes, and I must serve journalism.

  24. Off-topic, but this is a funny gif with CR 🙂

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