State of La Liga: Season Preview 09/10 [Update]

The dawn spreads its wispy fingers over the roofs of the neighboring buildings, sliding casually down Atlantic, splaying sideways at Flatbush. It dims the street light that shines through my window at that perfect angle where any attempt to block it from my eyes causes me to lose the air circulation in my room. I shift and try to sleep more, longer, anything to get rid of this feeling in my stomach. For once it’s not last night’s rounds with the boys that is causing me this insomnia. I look at my watch: 5 more hours to go. I roll over, pressing my face into the pillow. I roll over again, pulling the sheet over my legs then flipping it off moments later. I look at my watch: 4 hours, 59 minutes to go. I roll over, exhale.

“Stop tossing around, honey.” We love each other, of course, my girlfriend and I, but at 6am on Sunday morning, there is no such thing as empathy, just mumbled hatred. I try to hold still, but it’s too hot. I sit up and take a drink of water from the cup on the nightstand. I plop back down, exhale. “Stop tossing around, dickhead.”

I can’t explain it to her, she’ll never understand. It’s August 30 and I’m waiting as patiently as I can. I think she knows, intuitively, without having been reminded, that it’s Jornada 1, it’s el primer dia de la primera. It’s kickoff, it’s the beginning of another obsession. It’s gameday. No wonder I can’t sleep.

You say I can’t tell the future, but I already know how that morning will go, despite the distinct lack of FC Barcelona on that holiest of days. They play on Monday Night Futbol this time around, just this once, but that doesn’t make it any less special in the end. Or so I tell myself as the sun lifts off and kills any hope of falling back asleep. But you probably still don’t think I can tell the future. Well all right, let’s find out, once and for all, whether Professor Trawlaney college taught me anything about analysis and hypothesizing.

To the league, the protagonists of this preview:

The newbies, recently pulled from the purgatory that is La Segunda A, are Real Zaragoza, Tenerife, and Xerez. Of those three, Xerez might be in the worst state, despite being my FIFA 06 team, where we conquered everything in our paths because Barcelona didn’t want a new coach and the glory that went with hiring me. They floundered and Xerez, needing no capital influx to sustain its young and brilliant striker corps, went on to win La Liga in their first year “above ground” and no doubt would have walloped Europe as well, had FIFA 07 not come out. Reality is a bit harsher to the boys in blue and white, though they survived an RFEF inquiry into their finances that could have dropped them back to their previous league despite their championship year last year. It’s Xerez’s first season in La Primera and they’re probably not long for this top-flight thing.

But my first prediction is that Tenerife will finish 20th. Chalk it up, it’s as good as done. It’s not at all hard to predict that a team with few resources and no top-flight experience will be relegated, but I was wrong about Sporting Gijon last year, so there’s hope yet for the minnows. Not that you doubt me. They haven’t made significant moves in the transfer market (they lost Alfaro back to Sevilla is about all), which some might use to discredit their team, but what do you need a lot of reinforcements for if you’ve got a guy named Bellvis on your team? Sure, he couldn’t cut it at Valencia, but I’m guessing that’s because Soriano/Soler/whoever the crap is in charge over there couldn’t take another Butthead joke. Oh wait. Yeah, they’re going down.

19th will be Sporting Gijon, whose stay in the top flight has been far longer than anticipated despite their absurd goal differential (-32, worst in the league last year). They don’t have the financial sticking power that other clubs do and only an utter tank job by Betis, among others, saved their skins last year. History should be kind to these guys, but they cost me a drink last season (hey john!) and I cannot condone such insidious actions.

18th is the trickiest of them all, really, because the last day usually dramatically changes the landscape and a single goal can shift teams from third-to-last to 15th. Or vice-versa. Granted, last year was an insane year for the relegation zone, made all the more intruiging by a lack of competition at the top of the table, but still, there’s usualy something going on between 18th and 17th places, at the very least. Accusations of suitcases of money being handed out for good or bad performances will no doubt be replaced by delivery trucks of hair gel for Cronaldo, but I digress. I’m calling out Osasuna for this position, for falling into the gentle waters of the murky underworld. Sorry, guys, but life’s just not fair and your escape last year was but a small reprieve from the tightening noose. Think of it as your own, personal Incident Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (take that, David Pearce!).

Moving up the table, to the “sigh of relief” group, we find Valladolid, who will survive despite threatening to sink for almost the entire season, sort of like last year, except without Asenjo. They’ve got a guy named Pelé, so you can’t really argue with me on whether or not they’ll stay up. Nor can you argue with Manucho, who has claimed he’s as good as anyone else on the planet and has guaranteed some 350million goals this year while on loan from Manchester United–I think he actuallysaid 20 or was it 30? I’m going back to 350million.

Just above Valladolid, millimeteres from safety as well, is Xerez. Two promotion survivors? you ask. Well, yes, like last year, there will be teams willing to play worse than others.  I know they’ve got a crap budget and they’ve got kind of a wankery team, but they’ve added Victor Sánchez, so they have a solid utility player (to borrow a baseball term), but little else has come their way of any serious quality. Still, you have to like their chances against the above-mentioned clubs.

Almeria trundles in at 15 thanks to having to sell back Alvaro Negredo and his upteen number of goals, along with Bruno and Mané. They had a good run last year, but, like with Valladolid and Asenjo, you don’t lose a player of Negredo’s quality and do better. Goitom will help a bit, but not enough to push them anywhere near the top half of the table. Plucky, they certainly are, but I get to combine my fairly random antipathy towards Hugo Sanchez with a fairly nonpartisan guess that they’ll be near the bottom of the league. Yay, I suppose.

Athletic Bilbao, cup finalists last year, will do their part and stay up for another year, insuring that we’re all happy there’s further proof that you can, indeed, make a living by owning an all-Basque side. Llorente, ever the goal poacher, will score 50% of his teams total goals. Don’t act so surprised at such a statistical statement, it’s only going to be 25 goals. Yeste will have a lot more shots than that which will end up as souvenirs for some lucky kid walking by outside the stadium.

Real Zaragoza will get to stay up and handily — all the way in 13th — mostly because I fondly remember El Payaso Aimar and the Milito brothers rather than for any actual footballing reasons. None of those 3 players are still with Zaragoza, of course, but, among others, they have added Kalu Uche from Getafe and Jermaine Pennant on a free from some team in Blighty that dresses in red or something. Benitez is heart-broken about the loss, I’m sure. Lucky 13 is somewhere I’m sure most Zaragoza fans would be completely satisfied to trade their whole season for right now.

Poor Espanyol, who see their season begin to flounder even before the opening kickoff. Dani Jarque, blanqiazul to the core, got his wish and became captain, only to die a few weeks later (and 3 weeks before his girlfriend is due to have their first child). The tragedy that is a lost life is, of course, more important than a scuppered season (indeed a lifetime of scuppered seasons), but in a season preview, the importance of this loss to Espanyol cannot be overlooked. The team has quality — just as it did last year when they threatened to have the best stadium in all of La Segunda — but will it have cohesion without Jarque? They added Verdú from Depor, Ben Sahar from Chelsea, and Nakamura from Celtic, so they’ll stay up nicely, but won’t challenge for a European spot simply because Nakamura is getting older (as opposed to the typical player who gets younger). Match of the season, for them, will be hosting Barça at Cornella-El Prat. Sink or swim, our hearts go out to Jarque’s family and friends and I hope his child grows up to be captain of Espanyol (if it’s a girl, then I hope she’s the first female player for the team or something).

Dropping in at number 11 is Racing Santander, a team known mostly for not being all that good. They lost a boatload of people (Pereira, Zigic, Garay) and didn’t really get anyone in return (some guy named Crespo…but not that Crespo, unfotunately), but somehow I see them getting workmanlike wins against crap teams and getting hammered by the teams above them. Too good to go down, not good enough to break through. Ah well, call it intuition or whatever you’d like. There’s no rhyme or reason to this particular pick.

The crazies are out in force at Getafe again, enlisting The King (dude’s creepy) as well as some insane-ass ad agencies to tell us they’re going to run with the big dogs this year. They’re not. They’ll finish 11th and like it. They lost Uche to Valladolid and Granero to RM and then turned around and paid too much for Dani Parejo (€3m). They’re not big boys, but they’ll beat RM at least once, I’m sure, and garner that all-important top-half finish. For want of someone better to fill the spot, it’ll have to be Getafe.

Mallorca is basically the same team as last year, except with different personnel. What’s the point of betting against a team that, every single year, just goes about their business and ends up mid-table? So there you have it, Mallorca in 9th, not quite in striking distance of Europe, but never looking like dropping too near the relegation zone either. Ho-hum, guys, can’t you spice it up a bit? Where’s a retiring Eto’o when you need him for one last push towards the top 6? (La Liga Loca has them going down basically because they lost Juan Arango, so it’s really a competition to see who is most rightest, isn’t it?)

I’m going with Once-Super Depor in 8th. They haven’t lost all that many players of interest and also didn’t get anyone of interest, really. Omar Bravo is making the same rounds as always, shuttling between Mexico and Europe, confusing the crap out of me as to where he’s playing, why, and for how long. So…maybe he’s a part of their squad and totally maybe not. I’ve never been a huge Andres Guardado fan, but I have to admit that against most Liga competition, he can do damage with his pace alone. And that’s sort of how I see Depor as a whole: completely capable, but always overrated. So I’m going to overrate them and stick them in 8th.

The surprise of the season will be Malaga in 7th. And do you know why? It’s because they signed Xavi Torres from Barcelona and are going to find that they’ve got a pretty decent player on their hands. Obviously he’s not their only signing (Albert Luque still plays?), but he’s the one I’m most familiar with, so you’ll have to forgive me for focusing on Xavi Torres. If names meant anything, he’d be the greatest striker midfielder of all time. Unfortunately for the previously mentioned Pelé, they don’t.

There’s never a really good reason why Villarreal will do better than 12th, but they are always in contention throughout the year. Last year’s late-season self-destruction was a rarity and I don’t think it will be repeated. They added, among others, Nilmar and Jonathan Pereira, got a new coach (Ernesto Valverde), and lost Nihat and finally offloaded Guille Franco (end of contract and now he’s out of work despite starting for the Mexican national team). 80 league games and 15 goals does not a world-class striker make, but what do I know? I assume all 15 of those goals were against Javier Aguirre’s Atleti sides, making him seem irresistible as an attacking option. Now that he’s gone, there will be some serious ability up front for The Yellow Submarine, which is dangerous for everyone else. Expect Rossi to do good things this year, despite not having Altidore around to help him out — the problem is that everyone else above them has more talent than Villarreal. 6th, kiddies, is a decent showing in this league, just ask Malaga what they’d do for the Europa Cup spot

Oh no, Valencia in 5th? No Champions League for you, Messrs David, David, and Juan. The trio of Valencian midget attackers is a good one — a great one, you could argue — but the general incompetence that surrounds the inner workings of the club has seemed to have an effect on them quite similar to a tranquilizer. Why they’re so loyal to a team that occassionaly doesn’t pay them for a couple of months, I don’t know, but I suppose it’s commendable. I still think that it would have been better for Valencia to cash in on at least one of their stars to provide liquid assets, but if they’ve found a viable alternative, it’s somewhat hard to argue with that. The main reason for them sitting behind the other European contenders is their defense. They’ll score goals, they’ll have fun doing it, but they’ll also get manhandled a few times in defense. You read it here first, folks.

The eternal question of whether or not Atletico Madrid will choke and fail to make it to Europe seems to have been put to rest last year, but…And that’s the problem. There’s always a “but” at the end of a sentence where you predict Atleti will make the Champions League. Always. They’ve made all the typical moves you’d expect of Atleti in the transfer market, like keeping Forlan and Aguero, moving Leo Franco to Galatasaray and Coupet to PSG and picking up Sergio “the next Casillas” Asenjo (for €4m!), getting Jose Antonio Reyes back from Benfica, and they picked up some defensive reinforcements as well, all while offloading some inconsistent players like Banega (loan to Valencia), Maniche, and Seitaridis. You won’t find me arguing with their transfer policy, especially not when you consider how cheap their world-class goalie arrived for. So there you have it, Atleti will make spot number four and get into the Champions League…but…

After picking up Didier Zakora and bringing back Alfaro and De Mul from loans, Sevilla were basically the same team they were last year and I was going to drop them to 6th and then they went and got Alvaro Negredo from RM and beefed up their already pretty-damned-good front line. They’re still party-poopers for pretty much everyone else, simply because they’ve got gobs of quality (Kanoute, for instance) and everything to play for, but games against the men in blaugrana and the men in white will end in fat lips and L’s. Games at the Sanchez Pizjuan are always tough, of course, so look for a few key defeats there to paralyze others’ campaigns and boost Sevilla all the way to 3rd again.

It’s looking awfully similar at the top of the table, with Real Madrid coming in 2nd, despite their spending spree. If the focus is on winning the Champions League in the Bernabeu — and make no mistake about it, it is — then I think their league form will suffer to a certain degree. The talent on hand is massive, of course, but they are not yet a team ad have not yet found a way to win during the periods of strife that inevitably surface during a run at a title. That’s not to say that they won’t overcome such hurdles — actually that is precisely my prediction, what am I saying? Come the visit to the Camp Nou, they might be doing well, but they’ll leave with an L and a points deficit to the arch-rivals. I could probably devote a thousand words to their particular form of “transfer policy” but I’d rather move on, to something else. Like bird watching or smacking myself in the face.

And finally you have your champions: FC Barcelona. A 2-peat worthy of the ages, where a transfer policy that is a little bit more grounded will pay dividends. There are serious mountains to climb to win the league again, I know that, but my upcoming Barcelona-specific preview will take that on. Suffice to say that while our squad may not be mammoth, it is filled with quality from the top of Ibra’s shaggy hair to the bottom of Messi’s golden feet. It should be a battle for the ages when the two clasicos take place (no 2-6 drubbings this time around), but Barça will, in the end, come ou on top thanks to continuity and Guardiola’s Total Football philosophy. Pellegrini may be an excellent coach (and I have sung his praises before), but he has never worked in a situation like the cauldron that is the Bernabeu on a bad day. White hankies and whistles are par for the course in a 1-0 win. Imagine if there’s a 0-1 loss early in the season…Guardiola has dealt with this pressure and he will lead the 4-3-3 to stunning success once again. While the departure of Eto’o was sad for me, the arrival of Ibrahimovic has got me all atwitter in the brain, which is a wonderful feeling. I am anticipating what will happen, rather than dreading what we might not accomplish with such a talented squad. I have expectations, of course, but I am happy with last year to the point where I understand if there is no triplete waiting at the end of this go-round. Not that I’m not interested in it or don’t think we have the talent to achieve it, it’s just that I know how hard it is to repeat these things (it’s never been done, for instance).

I’m like a schoolgirl the day before prom: excited, nervous, happy, and, above all, I can’t wait to show off my pretty dress to all my friends.

The standings that you can hold me to in late May:

20. Xerez Tenerife
19. Sporting Gijon
18. Osasuna
17. Valladolid
16. Tenerife Xerez
15. Almeria
14. Athletic Bilbao
13. Real Zaragoza
12. Espanyol
11. Racing
10. Getafe
9. Mallorca
8. Depor
7. Malaga
6. Villarreal
5. Valencia
4. Atleti
3. Sevilla
2. Real Madrid
1. Barcelona

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Written by:

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

171 Comments

  1. Kxevin
    August 26, 2009

    But poipoi, every transfer’s price becomes clearer over time. Chygrynskyy is no exception.

    Henrique was desired by Guardiola. Keirrison was not, which is part of why he went on immediate loan. The mechanism was in place already, so Guardiola said “What the hell,” and shipped him off.

    Chygrynskyy is fit and ready to go. It is easier for defenders, particularly defenders that play as he does, to integrate into our system than attackers. Based on what I’ve seen, he will be an excellent addition to the side.

    Who is right and who is wrong? Only time will tell.

    I think you can count Milito out for this season. My guess is that the club already has. Last reasonable estimate had him rejoining the training in October or November. That will be almost two years of no match play. Plus, he isn’t the kind of defender that we need any longer.

  2. Hector
    August 26, 2009

    Hmm… Some Barcelona CB clarifications seem to be in order *plots*.

    Han- That tournament gave me goosebumps. Messi had the most dominating overall performance from a youth player that I had ever seen. They lost against the USA of all teams when Messi started off in the bench. After that, it was total destruction for everybody else. His game against Brazil was the stuff of legends. He scored the first with that screamer you referenced and then assisted the game winner (at the 90th minute) to Zabaleta by skinning a Brazil defenfer from the left and crossing in. After that, some knew he would be great.

  3. Han
    August 26, 2009

    Absolutely agree, that tournament at least for me made it clear we had something special in the band of the best future footballer EVER at our club.

    Btw: nobody apparently looked closely at my prediction for La Liga…..it misses something… like two teams participating to make the total of 20 clubs (oops)

  4. Han
    August 26, 2009

    Btw, not proclaiming I knew he would become the nr.1 worldwide. As Hector mentions, You knew this kid was the best ever seen from a player that age.

    Btw: I forgot Santander and Gijon. Both are anyway not likely to have a big impact on LFP.

  5. eklavya
    August 26, 2009

    Ahh auto-correction Isaiah….
    😀

  6. Thelonious
    August 26, 2009

    Interesting. I think Atleti are going to come in third. Then Sevilla.

    -FFT

  7. August 26, 2009

    I can understand the argument that Atleti will come in 3rd, buuut….

    And that’s really all I have going for my version of things. It’s just that, well, it’s Atleti, people!

  8. August 26, 2009

    i have to agree with alexis (and whomever agreed with him before i did): signing chy implies milito is not going to make it. so valdano’s people were right not to sign him. big deal. he’s a nice fella and a friend of messi’s and the year he didn’t play we happened to win… how many titles? three, right? pity valdano is not commenting on other players they didn’t keep or sign. would he be as proud to talk about letting eto’o go? thing is, one reads the comic-books, as alexis calls them, and there’s something weird. why is valdano, usually a cool guy, attacking barcelona one week before the league starts? and why is pique mocking ee? are they already that nervous? have we really become that cool? well yeah, pique is cool. pique is piquembauer. and the word around here is, should madrid mess up this season, having spent all that money, having lost all possible alternatives to rule the club, well, they may face a four-five years period of doom.
    going back to chy, i think guardiola is thinking of a yaya part two. a guy who can come out from the center of the defense here and then cover xavi’s (and everybody’s) backs there. always playing the ball. so there you have two replacements for the price of one. better than signing two 12,5 mill. ones, i guess. but time will tell.
    finally, isaiah, i liked your post. ’cause i feel the same, just opposite: i find it hard to sleep after the games. whether we win or we lose, the euphoria or the sadness will make me wander the house up and down while my gf wishes she was dating a chess fan. oh well…

  9. August 26, 2009

    – I am with Isaiah. I am sick of putting high expectations on Atletico Madrid before each and every season. Sevilla may create a big surprise next season. They strengthened their squad where needed. Fullback, DM, Offense. Great team indeed.

    – Milito…Madrid were not as right for not sihning him as Barcelona were right for not signing Garay. Milito played after Madrid rejection and performed great. Madrid later competed with Barcelona to sign him but he picked Barcelona for obvious reasons. His injury was bad, it happens. I still hope he bounce back. A solid defender who is perfect in building the offense from defence. Or thats how he used to be.

    – Messi was destined to be a great player. Even before he was born you could feel it comming.

  10. jordi
    August 26, 2009

    Valdano is a turd. he says they were proved right.( 4 years later albeit) about milito.And he he might have a point. But who did they sign instead? Woodgate. How many games did woodgate play?? 9 games in 2 years! He was injury prone before they signed him, during the time he played for them, and after he left. So has he forgotten about woody? atleast we got 42 games out of Gabi.

  11. August 26, 2009

    mjk, yeah, my gf is like that too, sometimes, except for when she’s wearing her Messi shirt and screaming with the rest of us in Nevada Smiths. But other than that, yeah, she’s like “why don’t you love JK8 as much as I do?”.

  12. August 26, 2009

    That’s actually a really good point, jordi. I’ve forgotten about Woody.

    I’d forgotten about him because he never goddamned played. And remember when he scored an own goal on his debut? Awesome.

  13. August 26, 2009

    Ramzi, I do like the idea that there was some cosmic hole that we all innately understood, then Messi was born and that day we all knew something good had happened, even if we didn’t know what.

  14. August 26, 2009

    Remember Arturo Lupoli? Turns out he was born on the exact same day as Lionel Messi and yeah, he’s a professional athlete (unlike a lot of other people born on that day, June 24,1987 btw), but now he plays for Ascoli in Serie B after starting with Arsenal. A different fate.

  15. Mher
    August 26, 2009

    Arturo Lupoli had amazing potential. Its a shame it wasn’t nurtured correctly. I believe EE will come in 3rd next to Athleti. Aguero is set for a crazy breakout year at his rate and i dont think, as great a coach as he is, Pellegrini will be able to put the massive puzzle pieces together in time to content for the crown seriously.

  16. Jnice
    August 26, 2009

    Great point, jordi. If a Madrid fan ever brings that up like Valdano did, I’m going to quote you.

  17. Alexinho
    August 26, 2009

    Very cool links. That Ambrose BBBierce thing was cool, but not as funny as the Sport is a TV Show. Anyway cool post, though two big complaints: Valladolid higher, Villareal higher. The rest, I can see it.

  18. Ciaran
    August 26, 2009

    Did anyone see the story that Anderson (Man Utd) went mad at Sir Alex when he was left out of the charity shield squad. Sir Alex confronted him and Anderson wouldn’t back down so has been dropped since then.

    Now that kid would really be a great addition to our midfield. Doesn’t score goals like he used to in his younger days but battles hard and has great technique

  19. August 26, 2009

    Ciaran, but is obviously a little bit of a problem for anyone who doesn’t play him enough…

  20. Helge
    August 26, 2009

    I’m absolutely against a transfer of Anderson, he is cocky but unlike CR7 he doesn’t have the skill that might allow you to show some arrogance. I also think he is a difficult character. He shall stay at ManUtd, they might even have some use for him this season (if they don’t get Robben).

  21. Ciaran
    August 26, 2009

    Details Isaiah, details 🙂

  22. Ciaran
    August 26, 2009

    A player and his character are often conflicting in terms of their usefulness. If Quaresma had Iniesta’s brain he would have been one of the best ever but his temperament is shit.
    Pity though.

  23. Colin
    August 26, 2009

    Nice preview Isaiah. You and Mr. Lowe have some different opinions, I hope yours are on point when it’s all over.

    Did you read Malcolm Gladwell’s article about “David and Goliath” strategies? It’s interesting when you think about Gijon, who play wide-open even though conventional underdog strategy is to park the bus. That’s part of the reason their goal differential is so bad (the other part being, they suck) but the David thing might explain why they way outperformed their Pythagorean expectation.

    My last memory of Anderson is SPF blowing by him to set up the Eto’o goal in the CL final. No thanks.

  24. Kxevin
    August 26, 2009

    Ferguson is right. Coach’s word is law. You might agree or not, but once it’s made, that’s how you roll.

    Mher brings up a good point about Lupoli and the “nurturing” side of the equation. In the pressure-packed world of top-flight footy, do clubs have time to nurture fully and properly? Or is that what loan programs are for, to send a player to a club at which he can do his job without the crazy pressures of a place such as Barca?

  25. August 26, 2009

    Just read Sid Lowe’s predictions. I too hope he is wrong about the first and second places.

  26. August 26, 2009

    Also, Colin, no I haven’t read Gladwell’s article. Got a link?

  27. Hector
    August 26, 2009

    I am very disappointed in Sid Lowe. I’ve always considered him as the best English language La Liga writer and even though he sometimes has too much of a fancy for the outrageous and the quirky for my taste, he would always use logic and facts for an argument. Now he proclaims RM to be champions but doesn’t give any good arguments other than “they should be favorties but something somewhere suggests they won’t be”.

    WTF, Sid? You’re better than that, dude. You’re better than that. 🙁 I can accept us being underdogs if a good reason is given but COME ON. Very disappointing.

  28. ElShowDeJason
    August 26, 2009

    I’d love Anderson if he was an option.

    Henry and the BANGSTA din’t track back at Arsenal and Inter, but they seem to do it now.

    Again, i’m convinced Pep can turn anyone into an ambitious SOB. Unless you are a lazy, bitter Belorussian who refuses to assimilate.

    Anyone really Geeked about the Derby di la Madodina?

    Hm… the E.E.’s website lists both Sneijder and VdV as # 23. thats odd..

    and USA Today is saying that Sniejder has signed for Inter,
    although i checked both the EE page, and Inter’s page, and neither are confirming it, but then agian, allegedly the story is about 20 minutes old..

    //http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/2009-08-26-2611728654_x.htm

  29. Colin
    August 26, 2009

    Here’s the Gladwell piece:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_gladwell?printable=true

    And here’s a link discussing how it applies to American football strategies:

    http://smartfootball.blogspot.com/2009/05/david-strategies-and-goliath-strategies.html

    The second piece is good because it refines the Gladwell idea to the statistical idea of variance. Short story, underdogs want more variance. I’d say Gijon brings in more variance through their wide open style. When they lose, they lose big (although they likely would have anyway), but they get some points they wouldn’t if they parked the bus.

  30. ballbeav
    August 26, 2009

    so will i be streaming the supercup on friday? booooooo.

  31. Hector
    August 26, 2009

    Its on FSC in the US. Also, Barca on ESPN on Monday.

    This is like nirvana for this disgruntled DIsh Network subscriber (not GolTV at home).

  32. BA
    August 26, 2009

    the Supercup on Friday is being shown on FSC.

  33. August 26, 2009

    ballbeav, yeah, it’s on FSC and FSE (Fox Sports en Español). If you don’t have it, then I suppose you will, indeed, be streaming.

  34. Tutomate
    August 26, 2009

    Your right Hector, Sid was very poor onhis arguments in that basically he lacked any. All I was able to surmise is that he thinks they deeper squad and that we might loose some people to injury particularly Xavi, and Messi.

  35. August 26, 2009

    Thank you, Colin, I have printed it and will read it on my commute home.

  36. Colin
    August 26, 2009

    Sure, hope you like ’em. Brain food for the sabermetricly inclined.

  37. yogi
    August 26, 2009

    Well, Sid does not give any valid reasons to prefer Madrid. While reading the comments on that blog, i came across one interesting comment. Apparantly Sid never predicts Barcelona to win anything. Maybe he is Barca fan and superstitious that if he predicts Barca to win, they will not. Other then that, found his analysis quite good.

  38. fcbfan
    August 26, 2009

    Sid’s Barca predictions didn’t come true last season, so I hope that continues.

  39. Jnice
    August 26, 2009

    yogi, Sid is a Madrid fan.

  40. MoSSi
    August 26, 2009

    Sid is a madridista, he is a commentator and analyst on real madrid tv..

  41. lovelymofo
    August 26, 2009

    Colin, that article is awesome. I love the New Yorker, they always have interesting stuff.

    I’m guessing most of La Liga would consider Barça the Goliath of the story, except it seems to me that the team plays a la David, pressure and more pressure, with the skill of a Goliath. If that makes sense.

    Anyway, I think (and hope!) that Barça wins the Liga again. What was Sid’s predictions about Barça last year?

  42. Jnice
    August 26, 2009

    lovelymofo, I think he said we would finish 2nd last year. So like others have said, this is a good thing.

  43. Mher
    August 26, 2009

    Kxevin, look at how many clubs Lupoli has been through whether it was an extended loan or even transfer. He never got a solid first team role when it actually mattered. I was always a fan of him in his younger days, doesn’t he hold the record for most youth goals an Italian has ever scored or something? Either way its just a bit sad that somebody like him, though he still has a lot of time, has not progressed at the rate which he should.

  44. Hilal
    August 26, 2009

    Oh please, Sid Lowe is a joke! He always predicts a loss for Barca and then gushes all over us when we win, as if he had predicted it all along. Last year he didnt think we would beat either Chelsea or Utd and he didnt think we would win the league either in his preseason predictions. He was all praise in his post game reviews though. lol.

    Barring any serious injuries i dont think the league will be too much of a problem. MAdrid still have a lot of kinks to work out, whereas we can start right where we left of….only it looks like we will actually be better this time around. The CL will be a lot harder because so much of it depends on luck. From luck of the draw, to refereeing decisions, to hitting the post, it all plays a part. That is why no team has retained the CL trophy, but if any team can do it, it is ours…..just as long as the key players stay fit.

  45. Colin
    August 26, 2009

    @loveleymofo: I think Barca plays a high variance style, which contributes to the moments of beauty Barca are more capable of than any other club, as well as the heartbreak.

  46. Mher
    August 26, 2009

    According the Wiki(always reliable lol 😉 ) Lupoli had scored 45 goals in 22 youth games for Parma, the team Guiseppe Rossi came from. best in Italian youth history.

  47. ElShowDeJason
    August 26, 2009

    Sid Lowe is the written version of Ray Hudson, you know he isn’t going for your team, but when he is heaping the praise, I’ll take it!, and i find the hyperboles quite entertaing!

    So, while i know Sid, and Ray aren’t pulling for Barca, i sure enjoy when they kiss our ass. Great human beings? debateable, but talented and entertaining journalists? definitely.

  48. ElShowDeJason
    August 26, 2009

    Damn. I’m taking all online classes this semester.
    Its a good thing, except that my browser has a tab on my studies, and another on here. Its distracting.

    I am trying to concentrate on the Principles of Information Systems, and the only things circulating my nuerons are FC Barcelona, and the thought ofentering the exciting world of Home-Brewing my own beer.

    Oh, plus i turned 22-today, so i almost feel bad for studying and not drinking irresponsibly.

  49. JeffP
    August 26, 2009

    Wait a second. Do you actually blame Sid for picking RM as last season’s preseason favorites? We just came off a horrendous year and firing of a successful manager who was replaced by a manager with no first division experience. At the same time we got rid of two Barca legends (well, maybe Deco was half a legend) while having our #9 playing for the new manager who publicly stated he wasn’t needed on the team.

    Hmmm. I don’t know what Sid was thinking.

    Let’s be honest, even the most optimistic fan (and I count myself in that group) was uneasy with all the turmoil within the club at the start of last season.

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