Hopefully this is the final time I have to write this during the 09-10 season: This game will not be broadcast in the US on TV. Ugh. We’ll have to webstream it like usual, though it should be on La Sexta, so try to stream it there, but don’t worry, you can always tune in here for the liveblog.
Because this is the second leg, Barcelona enters this match 2-1 to the good, with those 2 goals being very valuable away goals. Not that that changes the fundamental approach for Barça, who will always look to win every match. A draw, any draw, is good enough, but Guardiola will not want to leave it to chance, to the odd bounce to pick up a small piece of silverware for the cabinet.
So we’ll attack and will probably even start a very serious lineup that includes Messi and Ibrahimovic, which would be a good idea, I think, ahead of 5 days rest between now and the UEFA SuperCup, especially if Messi and Alves are going to be out for the first league game. So expect everyone who can start, to start. It is also to Barça’s advantage that Bilbao played a Europa League qualifier on Thursday (winning 3-2 at San Mames against Norwegian club Tromsø IL). Yes, Barça played a game on Wednesday, but it was a friendly in which a thousand subs were used so the regular starters either didn’t play (Xavi, Valdes, for instance) or didn’t play more than a half (Messi) so everyone should be pretty fresh.
Don’t expect to see Iniesta or Marquez play because they haven’t regained full fitness yet and Guardiola won’t risk them in a match that only allows him 3 subs (A real match? Holy shit, the year is starting!), but here’s the lineup I think will be out there:
Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Henry, Ibrahimovic, Messi
I can quite easily see Busi making a start, but I’m going to hedge my bets and sa he’ll be a sub, as will Pedro! (especially if we get a big lead — by the way, he’s now #17 since he’s an official member of the first team squad). There’s no squad list, so I can’t confirm who will be available, but Henry and Abidal have been training normally the last day or two. If Bilbao want a chance of winning, they’ll have to start their best 11, which I think includes Yeste and Javi Martinez.
So then, we get to the part you’re all dying to hear, the official prediction: 2-1 Barça, both goals by Messi. There, I said it. It’s fated.