Liga Preview: Barça – Sporting Gijon, Wednesday 2pmEST, GolTVHD
Ah yes, Sporting Gijon. I remember you. I mean, I should since we last played you in January and won 0-1 thanks to Pedro. We also won 3-0 at the Camp Nou in our opening match of the season, but that was too long ago to possibly remember. There’s not even any record of it on the internet that long ago. Currently they’re in 11th at 1-1-1, which means that we’ll have to beat them because they lost their first match against Atlético Madrid 4-0 and we just really want to keep things going in a sequence for them.
Okay, you’re not here right now to hear about Sporting Gijon and the 4 goals from their billion megaton warhead of an offense. And yes, that just happens to be exactly what the real Ronaldo weighs these days. It’s a coincidence, okay? Instead of that, you want to hear about Messi and how we’re going to do without him. First, we’re going to be fine. Bojan may not be lighting up the world with his play these days, but he has to step up now and he will. As long as we stick to our strenghts, we’ll be fine–and yeah, that means movement up front to destabilize and it means that Villa has to move, has to pressure, and has to be the striker everyone says he can be.
And to also get this out of the way: I would have been perfectly happy with some weird interpretation where they suspended him for as long as Messi was out plus 1 match, but that’s not in the rules, I’m sure. Ujfalusi should have been suspended for 3 matches. 2 matches is an insult. It suggests that there was violent action (3 matches) but that the disciplinary committee is leaving themselves an out because Messi wasn’t really that hurt. And that’s absurd. So, put me on record as disagreeing with Kevin about 12 matches, but also disagreeing about 2 matches.
So then, the match at hand offers us a chance to see ourselves without The Little Argiebargie. And it means that I expect to see some serious steel in the midfield and a 4-4-2. Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Abidal, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Pedro, Villa.
It should be noted here that Villa will be playing against his original club. He scored 40 goals in 85 matches for the rojiblancos over 2 full seasons and then moved on to Real Zaragoza in 2003. He’s always emotional playing against Sporting, so tomorrow shouldn’t be any different, but he will put in a solid 90 minutes as a professional. That should never be doubted. If he scores, do not expect a celebration.
The 4-4-2 that I’m imagining is more of a 4-3-3 than a strict 4-4-2, but it will have so many overlapping parts that no one will really have a set position. Except for Keita, who was caught on tape talking to his coach, um, tomorrow morning:
“Hey, Pepster, where do you want me to play tonight? Midfield? Defense? Offense?”
That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Wooo. Iniesta shifts up and in with the ball, Keita kicks anyone who gets near him, and we’re golden. It’s like the Flying V, but with fewer players and more blood.* So the back line will have no Puyol if I get my way, because I want Señor Milito to get some reps and I want Puyol totally ready for his cage match against Fernando Llorente on Saturday.
Official Prediction: 3-0. Every match today was 3-0 to the home team, so let’s not mess that trend up, eh? Goals by Pedro, Xavi, Bojan (sub).
Time: Wednesday, 2pm New York/EST, 8pm Barcelona/local. Check your local time here.
TV: In the US, the match will be on GolTV (in HD!).
Weather: 72F (~22C), 20% chance of rain, 10mph wind, ~80% humidity. The temperature should ease the pain from the humidity, but Sporting might want to pack extra Gatorade bottles. Or whatever it is Spaniards use to rehydrate during matches. Paella?
*The astute readers will be thinking about my third paragraph and how I was all anti-violence back then. Well that was the past, people, get with the program.**
**I don’t really condone violence.***
***Except against zombies. Ooooh do I hate me some zombies.