SuperCopa Preview: Barça – Athletic Bilbao; Sunday 4pmEST

Don’t forget to read the most recent posts: Kevin’s news review, my discussion of the fantasy football league, and Hector’s breakdown of the Gamper goal.

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.


By Isaiah

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


  1. According to EMD, Ibra will get minutes, but will almost certainly not starting. They say the trident will most likely be Messi, Henry, Bojan.

  2. @Jnice, according to EMD via Goal [dot] com, Ibra isn’t 100% fit

    “My physical condition is not the best and I lack rhythm, When you change team you have to start from scratch, get used to another style. But here it seems even more necessary. Barcelona have a very specific style, a brand that identifies them

    To become part of that mechanism takes training and matches that I have not had yet”

  3. finally joined the fantasy league. i really hope Ibra plays a part in a goal tomorrow, mainly wishing to get his name on the scoresheet. Oh and Kevin since you like that graceful genre, TELL me your a Bill Evans fan. That man has made some enchanting jazz, man.

  4. @elshowdeJason

    remember last year, everybody hated hleb. honestly there should be no difference between hating hleb and hating marquez. i always hear people say true fans love the team not the players.

    i take it you dont visit some of the other offside blogs? they are way more biased then izzy.

    i personally like the new barca offsides, just as a liked the old one(this one), now i gots two different sources to read. plus i like the way they have the one word description for player ratings.

  5. Oh, man. This is tragic.

    Firstly, i hope that he pulls out of this alive, but even that isn’t much consolidation. Most professional football players have dedicated their lives to making it big in football. They aren’t really prepared to do anything else.

    Lord forbid he lose the ability to play footy, he’d have to start a new career from scratch, while having to deal with never being able to do what he loves most.

    Best wishes to his family.

    i cant really express through words how horrible an emotion this story evokes.

  6. yes Larm, but like i said, it is one thing for us (the commenters), to bash Hleb (who was terrible for us) in the comments section, where it is more fair game, than it is for the author of the blog to bash a player on the publications.

    A player who happened to give his best years at Barca, being a hugely important piece of both the 2005/2006 and 2008/2009 CL titles, and is thinking about the club’s future even if it is without him, personally helping Muniesa with his development.

    Hleb on the other hand did nothing for us, and it was a general group consensus that he sucked.

    I digress, because it doesn’t matter that it is Marquez. It could have been Henry, Ibra, Abidal or Messi, It doesn’t matter. The principle is the same.

    And i am not saying the new Offside doesn’t have anything to offer, i just think that the fact that that is incorporated into it is rather disappointing.

  7. I hope I am wrong, but I am so sure Puyol won’t be with us next season. Man City will give him a better contract. My chance of seeing one of the greats of Barcelona retire at the club seems to be fading away..

  8. Lol Jason. I thought it was a bit weird because Marquez had such a successful season. He made one mistake in the CL against Chelsea and I guess he has yet to be forgiven for that. What I want to know is why his mistake stands out, whereas the mistakes of other players don’t. We don’t have any perfect players on the squad, do we? Aside form Xavi.

    The dedicated post and the little stab in the match preview were definitely..weird, though. But as a Marquez fan, I may be a bit biased.

    Something else that caught my eye was the guy getting angry that players are talking about the treble. It’s kinda hard not to do that when you’re one of the very few clubs in the world to have achieved that! Plus, players are constantly referencing the previous season.

    Anyway! I will hopefully be able to watch the game today.

  9. And I think people are used to be more harsh on Pep blog than the new Theoffside are harsh on Marquez.

    It’s turning to be a habit here , and I honestly didn’t want to comment, but its a part of every post now, Either directly or through indirect hints. As if promoting one place means damaging another. Or at least allowing it to happen (if not blessing it).

    Pep blog obviously need more moderation (we are working on that by the way). But at the same time, it’s where the Barcelona Massive community with all its diversity takes place. As someone who is aware of the traffic rates and destinations on that blog, the Copy-past-and translations activities linked to that blog, I can insure you that.

    Here (on this blog) we are more like the Presidents Box of Nou Camp. Lawyers, businessmen, and elite community where calm -always mature- discussions take place. We must all praise that. We must all make sure to keep that going.

    Yet, I will not look down to the massive population of the stadium where people are less aware of “the right way and the wrong way” of saying things. Normal people, ages, education levels, etc… That part of the stadium is where all the cheers and the shits take place. But that’s the soul of our club as well. They express themselves spontaneously. After the game where we lose, the too sectors go and try to get drunk. Some by getting the best brands, others bad whiskey as that’s all what they can afford. We do not like the way they express themselves? Well, they may consider us little boring as well, but where is the problem?

    In another words, That’s where one Barcelona fan (pep) started from zero. Invested his life for more than a year working to create the best news-oriented site on the web covering Barcelona news. Its Where we all go to get the latest news, prepared, cooked, and packed for us to browse then exchange. Then after the guy was almost crushed by time, some other fans stood up to help. And more plans are taking place at the moment.

    Pep Blog, Theoffside, Barcelona football blog (here) complement to show the reality of this club with all its diversities and all must be respected. As no one can claim being the best by itself, unless enjoy living in denial. The greatest realistic goal is to try being involved in creating the best Blog-o-sphere environment for the club on the web, compared to other clubs communities and not toward each others.

    I consider myself as a part of Pep blog. And I don’t think I make a bad impact when I contribute on other blogs. Including this one, and previously theoffside. If there is something I feel needs upgrading or improvement in any other blog, I step in (my own way) and try to make the positive difference instead of criticizing. I expect the same in return.

    Apologies for the rant. But you know me.

  10. I get what you’re saying, Ramzi, but maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t get how some people on Pep’s blog react the way they do. Like say when it comes to religion or something like that. Or any small little thing. All of a sudden you have all types of name calling and ignorance some masked under “anonymous” post. The comments remind me of those on and that’s why I rarely comment there. But besides that, I love that blog and it is usually the first site I visit in the morning, because like you said, that is where we get the ready-made news that leads to our daily discussions.

    As for the new Barça Offside, Iggy is doing a difficult thing, and I’m sure as the days progress, he will become more comfortable and get better. He will also attract more readers and build up a nice community. I just feel more comfortable (right now), commenting here because it is familiar and I love the discussions.

    But anyway, I hope I get a good Sopcast channel to watch the match in. Streams piss me off most of the time, so it is very necessary.

  11. monk in the 50’s on riverside….pheeeewww…forget about it. wish i had that box set though. eastwood’s documentary on him shows that it really is a thin line between genius & insanity…much like barca’s attacking mentality/total football.

  12. marquez haters on that other blog i can’t comprehend. i can’t think of any time where pique was chosen for the starting line up ahead of ei kaiser outside of an injury. pique should definitely get the most improved player of the season trophy, but that’s about it. don’t think he should be chosen ahead of terry(maybe vidic) in the uefa club awards either. he’s a cool cat & fills the void left behind by sylvinho/maybe dudjohnsen soon in the locker room but his defensive abilities are a bit shaky. been way too hyped up since after his goal against real madrid, in my opinion.

  13. Welcome, Txikidracula!

    A Monk fan with a Txiki reference in his nickname. I think Kxevin has a new best friend on this blog 😀

    Re: Jonas Gutierrez.

    I’ve only watched him play for Argentina and I don’t want him. He is an EPL style winger. Great work rate and pace but IMO runs around like a headless chicken too much and tires himself out pointlessly. He gets the ball runs towards the opposing goal on the wing and either flips in a blind cross or flops. Think of a Diego Capel who defends but bigger albeit not as fast. No thanks.

    I am so happy that Maradona finally called up Jesús Dátolo who can play left winger. He’s much better than Jonas IMHO. I just hope he wins a sure spot on the Napoli first team. Some people will cry foul because he’s a Boca player and Maradona has been know to irrationally favor ex-Boca players like Gago and Tévez even though he pissed them all off with the Riquelme affair.

  14. thanks carnal! i feel like i should be getting hazed for wandering into this blog. “thank you sir may i have another?”

    Dátolo is sick; i’ve liked tevez since, what was it, the 2004 olympics? i think he even could have played well on the left wing for barca, much like he did against the netherlands in the world cup…but that’s just me.

    p.s. jonas sucks. how the fuck is he on argentinas national team? and if maradona were anybody else, wouldn’t his ass have been sacked by now?

  15. Me and Ramzi ranted quite a bit last season about how Carlitos was destined to be a Barca player and would have been perfect for our system on the left but nobody listened 🙁 . His work rate, smarts, instincts, and versatility would have been perfect for us.

    I’m an Argy fan and yes, I want Maradona gone but I want Grondona gone even more from the AFA.

  16. tevez’s pace/work ethic would have been a direct answer to eto’o’s after his absence; and him coupled w/ messi AND ibrahimovic…forget about it. AFA is fucked. Kirchner’s are coming up on that shit though nationalizing the television rights. “let them eat futbol.”

  17. Not much to add to Ramzi’s comment on the inter-blog speculation/assessment, except to say that Isaiah should get some credit. He took over The Offside when it was but an egg. Go back and look at some of those early posts, with zero comments, or a precious few.

    He did the work to raise the profile of that space until it, like Pep’s Place, became a must-visit for its own reasons. Now he’s started this joint from zero, and the exact same thing is happening here. Very cool.

    Blogs are like restaurants. Different meals for different hungers.

  18. On Fabregas, Celtic won’t be able to score enough goals to beat Arsenal, even if Fabregas, Van Persie, Bendtner and Arshavin were out, and Wenger was off having a manicure. It’s just that kind of a tie.

    Frankly, this isn’t the year for Fabregas to come. Of course, next year won’t be either, which won’t stop Rosell from pledging to “bring him home.” You bet. Home to wonder why, after all the money that we spent on him, he still is playing behind Xavi and Iniesta.

    Or do we put him in the Iniesta spot, and make Iniesta a left winger? I’m against that, as I think Ghostface is a greater danger just off Xavi, in the center.

  19. fabregas is a better option as a permutation in the midfield than either one of dos santos or thiago, but wenger is high power pimpin’ & that’s his prized philly. that shit ain’t coming cheap.

    iniesta on the wing is awesome but his partnership w/xavi is even way more awesomer. i don’t think barca would be want for goals w/ him playing up top either as i don’t think goal differentials have gone down in correlation to him playing there…but i don’t have the numbers to prove it.

  20. And for the reccord, even though Dátolo is a great player, I am not sure what kind of problems he will solve.

    I thought Bielsa Formation that was almost a 3-3-2-2 without the modifications to insure defense width was the most painfull thing to watch. Till we had this argentina era.

    Till Maradona accept the fact that Argentina will never be a Barcelona template (though can produce the same quality), there is no hope for change. As long as we see Tevez-kun-Messi, forget about it.

    I can accept that Riquelme, as an old-style “enganche” will not fit a coach vision anymore. But it means that you will have a modern playmaker of “trequartistas” quality like Messi to lead the team linking midfield with offense, or a “registas” like cambiasso to organize the ball flow from midfield. Both requires 3 additional midfielders (in another word, playing with two players upfront). one of them has to be taller than Maradona himself!

    And Kxevin, there is a reason why out of Zelllion Barcelona Blog on the web, I contribute only in two or three blogs. Full credit for Isaiah, You, and The Hector 🙂

  21. Regarding the impact of having Iniesta on the flank on the goal scoring rate of Barcelona, the last analysis I made was after the second internationa break I think, and the team scored almost the same number of goals with Henry on the left as we did with Iniesta.

    The difference is that Henry himself scored more goals than iniesta which is the reason why there is an impression that with Iniesta we score less.

    Again, thats last season numbers, next season may give us a better idea. I am an old believer that Iniesta can turn to be a goal scorer. He improved a bit last season and became more confident to take responsibilities, but that wasnt enough, I expect more to come.

    BUt again, its great to have headache to choose one of two successfull options, rather than being dependent only on one.

  22. fuck! i gotta wake up in six hours to search for a crappy feed to watch barcelona harlem-globe-trot the fuck out of athletic w/our new gangly ass swede? goltv or espn, which ever, get off your ass already!

  23. Ramzi- Don’t remind me of Bielsa 😀 .

    Yeah, I agree. The 4-3-3 or, even worse given the personnel, the 3-4-3 are aesthetic and tactical suicide for Argentina. I like Dátolo because he is a good old fashioned true Argentina “volante” (think of it as a mix of a pure winger and a left or right midfielder) of which we right now only have Maxi unless Pastore becomes a regular fixture (I LOVE that kid). He actually reminds me of Maxi before his knee injury. Remember Maradona playing Verón and Gago on the wings (WTF!?!?) ? As long as Zárate and Higuain keep getting ignored in favor of Jonas (again, WTF!?!?!), Dátolo is also IMHO the best option as left winger in a 4-4-2.

  24. HI,
    I was wondering if anyone knows where I can download full barca games. I can stream but the timings are ridiculous(and internet is slow), and Im not too bothered about watching games delayed. I occasionaly see people put up links to download/upload sites, but does anyone know of more regular sources? Any help would do as my desperation for barca games is soon becoming insane!

  25. “Monk’s music is like the way Barca plays, when at its best: Strange, beautiful and oh, so logical, stuff that makes you say “Where did that come from?” ”

    gracias tío…. gràcies nen!

  26. ramzi: Iniesta is huge already but he’s gonna become enormous. I totally agree on the responsability and main role stuff but the goals… who knows? Let’s hope for te best but he is my Ballon D’Or anyways.

  27. Yay! I can watch the match today.
    A FIFA 09 meeting with friends has been postponed due to toothache of the host. Now, I hope I don’t get disappointed.

  28. haha! i’m watching fulham vs chelsea and the fulham supporters are chanting “there’s only one iniesta”

  29. I really hope we win. I won’t be able to watch the match cause I’m too tired (loong flight).

  30. yayatwo: You can go sign up for’s forum. They post links to Barca (and other football) games.

    Other than that, you can download Bit Che, a program that will search all major torrent sites. I can always find the season matches here, but other matches from Copa del Rey may be a bit harder to find using this method.

  31. lol just woke up from a nap and read up on inter live updates: “Eto’o misses an absolute sitter!! Milito did very well to nick the ball from a defender and square it – and he had all the goal to aim at. He placed it wide.”

    oh the memories…

  32. isaiah you said “We’ll have to webstream it like usual, though it should be on La Sexta, so try to stream it there…”

    i just went to their website and i see no mention of it in their schedule. maybe i am looking in the wrong place? anyway, normal drill, everyone post the good links that they find come game time…

  33. Corrine, at least Eto’o scored in the first official game for Inter (Super Cup in Beijing). Let’s see how Ibra does today.

    I also know the memories of Eto’o and he made me scream several times when he missed such sitters, but he also made me scream with his >30 goals last season 😉

  34. Lol does every mention of Ibra or Eto’o have to turn into a comparison between the two.

  35. it’s the logical thing, OhYes. It’s true, we need more time, we cant just say “etoo scored in the first game, ibra didnt, etc etc.” let’s not jump the gun. but it makes sense that people will compare the two.if ibra flops it’ll be the first big stain on pep’s (fledgling) legacy. i am one of the eto’o faithful. i also love pep and i am accepting the switch while chanting the mantra “In Pep I trust.” But he has seriously tinkered with something that wasn’t broken. So the comparisons will go on and on, but let’s save it for now i guess…..

  36. All I’m saying is that if I talked about Ibra’s coffee preferences, someone would pipe in about how Eto’o’s preferences are better or something like that.

    It’s just weird, that’s all. 🙂

  37. Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell; Xavi, Touré, Keita; Messi, Ibrahimovic y Henry

    ITS ON ! Full A team.

  38. Valdes
    Alves – Puyol – Pique – Maxwell
    Xavi – Yaya – Keita
    Messi – Ibra – Henry

    Pinto – Fontas – Abidal – Guddy – Busquets – Bojan – Pedro

  39. Liveblog is posted, but won’t launch until 3:45 aka when I get back from putting laundry in the machines downstairs.

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