The Flying V: Sporting – Barça

"Do not get near the midgets, okay?"

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.

By Isaiah

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.


  1. Will Messi be scoring from the stands/bench? 😀

    I think we’ll be fine for tomorrow’s match and I agree that Puyi should not play this match in anticipation of the match against Athletic Bilbao.

    1. Aargh, apparently the crossout function is busted right now. So, for those of you wondering what’s going on, I previously wrote the score as Messi (3), Pedro, Xavi, Bojan.

      The “Messi (3)” is supposed to be crossed out, but I simply removed it because something funky is happening with WordPress and I’ve gotta run.

    2. Poor Queen Elizabeth! When your computer/coding is rebelling, what can you expect from your subjects?

      So, when are you planning to abdicate?

  2. I posted an epic rant on the other page. I promised myself and my papi that I’ll never talk about it again, so I can’t tell what it was about. Or to read it, because in my mind it doesn’t exist.

    My Queen, I think you’ve been off football too long. Everyone knows the 3 goals we’re going to score are going to be from Hleb, Caceres and Gone Adriano Henrique.

    And Villa.

    What do you mean that equals 4 goals?! We’re Barca; we’ll figure it out. Andres’ll score one and it’ll be chalked off because it wasn’t a golaso, a marking of a special landmark, or historic.

    So there.

    1. Nice rant! I think people are being lenient because he wasn’t hurt so badly. But he could have been. And either way, it was a reckless challenge. I think the timing of it makes it even worse. So while I wouldn’t have gone for the 12 match suspension, I think at least 4-6 would have been right.

    2. Crazy couple of days .. So Hleb, Caceres, and Henrique scored .. Keirrison scored 10 days ago and he has a match tomorrow .. If he scores, that must be some kind of record .. Four Players Loaned from the same club scoring on the same week

    1. There’s even a video of it:


      Of course, we all recognize Isaiah! 😀

  3. Well, I’m not going to underestimate Sporting, although they are no Hercules. Of course I am going to miss it since I will be at work. I am looking for a great performance from Villa. He has something to prove, and he will most likely be playing CF, his best position. I predict 3-0, 2 from Villa and (surprise!) 1 from Bojan, who also has something to prove.

    Oh, and Queenie? I saw you in 3D last night on CBC (Canuckian TV). Except not really, because 3D glasses don’t work for me, so you just looked kind of weird.

  4. Kari’s rant is worth a read. Epic, and on point like a master class of ballerinas.

    I say 2-1. They’ll nick one off some crazy-ass shot, and Villa will still be clunky-funky, so No. 4.5 will come to the rescue with a second-half winnah. Yes.

  5. I dont know if anyon has mentioned this probably Kari lol,

    but I think it is normal for fans to voice their disappointment on certain situation like these. If this wasn’t the case then football would be a world of violence and vendetta, rather than skill, brains and good sportsmanship.

    intended or unintended, Ujfalusi has to live the consequences. Otherwise he didnt have to tackle Messi like that. I felt the penalty was a little lenient for only two matches. Not because of barca fan’s sake , but for the sake of football itself.

  6. just got home and they are showing a repeat of atletico – barça! 2nd half im gonna pay special attention to Villa who right now is tracking back full speed and defending our own backline…followed by making a run creating space for xavi’s long distance shot after making a dash while iniesta was bringing the ball up. mmmmm

  7. oh well 2nd half finished. ya’ll are some quiet, sleeping commenters, word!

    Based on the 34 minutes i saw him play just now I still think Villa did not stink up the joint that much. Only half as much 😉
    As long as he keeps getting open for goal scoring opportunities all he needs to do is his finishing touch back and we will all love him.

    It is true that Villa will have more trust and patience from most of us than Ibra, but what do y’all think of Mascherano? Will we give him time to adapt? If none of Busi, Xavi and Iniesta get injured, will he get frustrated for not getting enough playing time? Will we roast him alive the first time he gets sent off in an important match?

    1. Exactly. Kxevin was as usual being very harsh on Villa. I think deep down in his heart, he really does fancy Villa :p

      I was fast asleep when you guys were ranting about Usjaflisi, but I don’t buy his apology. He didn’t even f-ing bother to look, LOOK, at Messi while he was on the ground. That say’s it all.
      And I really wasn’t surprised to see him getting only a TWO-match ban. The Spanish FA still has beef with Pep.

    2. Well, Masch has two fellow Argentinians in Barca, not to mention the whole situation with his family wanting to move to a Spanish-speaking country. Add the fact that he’s on a winning team and can squeeze in a yellow card every time he gets a few minutes of game time and I think Masch will be pretty happy playing and living in Barcelona.

    3. Oh, bollocks. Watch the WHOLE match, not just the part that supports your contentions. I have already warned that I am not going to take any shit this year, so what follows shouldn’t shock anyone.

      What the hell does “as usual” mean?! Villa has only been a Barca player for three league matches. I would counter that as usual, people like a player and don’t want to hear any diacouraging words about said player, so Kxevin is, yet again, a biased jackass.

      Bullshit. Watch the match. Then watch it again. Just because a player isn’t static ALL THE TIME, doesn’t mean that he isn’t generally thus. Or maybe I am posting under different screen names, in an effort to have others agree that Villa was shit.

      When Henry didn’t put the ball in the net, he was labeled shit and a failure, despite all the other stuff that he did. Ibrahimovic was labeled a failure despite 21 goals and 9 assist, and despite all the other stuff that HE did, including defending on set pieces, because he didn’t put the ball in the net enough.

      That Villa should, for whatever reason, have a different standard is nonsense. For me, he is evaluated the same. To suggest that I somehow have it in for Vila after three goddamned matches, is even a bigger pile of nonsense.

      Every season, I evaluate matches, and work my ass off to do so. And every year, it’s the same crap. I love Henry. I hate Krkic. I hate Eto’o. I’m too harsh on Messi. Because anyone who doesn’t say what you want to hear is wrong, and clearly biased. Whatever. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got ’em. If you want to review a match, step right up, be prepared to devote 4-5 hours to the match watching, including slo-mo and frame-bt-frame, and another hour or so to write the review. But the party will only be beginning, becauae ig you dare utter a bad word about a beloved, it will be “I knew it,” even though it’s your first review.

      So anytime you want to have fun like that, just let us know.

    4. Opinions are just that, opinions and as you said, everyone has it. Just like movies, two person watching the same matches can arrived at different conclusions. To one person, he is trying hard enough, to another, he is not. It’s call “agreeing to disagree”.

      Just bec you have spend hours evaluating a match and watching slow motion replays until your eyeballs drop off doesn’t make you the definite authority. In the end what you say is just an opinon, nothing more. And the way you rate the players after each match, one match, they can get a 10 out of 10, the next, plunge to 2 or 3. If these Barca players are that truely that inconsistent, then Pep is an awful coach and we can forget about trophies this season.

      Finally, there is no need to flare up. You run a open blog here ( I suppose ) and if you express an opinion, people are free to express their opinion on your opinion. If you don’t like people to disagree with you with your self-perceived bias in their opinions, then by all means censored all the post and only leave a bunch of yes-men and faithful followers on this blog that will always agree with you to make you feel superior and better.

      I suddenly have the urge to write this because opinionated people generally disgust me. You probably think I am a troll but that’s fine. Won’t be back. Have a good day.

    5. kxevin

      the job of reviewing i like 2 do that.coz i can sleep 4 2 hours and still can do my office.

      by the by i didnt think ppl is having a different opinion on ur u will certainly agree, when this barca isnt perfect
      so is ur reviews

  8. The match i’ve been dreading to watch.. Bojan on for more than 5 minutes… ehhh…
    Most know my “hate” for Bojan, he’s been doing terrible for someone who wants to earn a spot.. RIGHTFUL spot on this team…particularly with an undeserved number on his back! I pray and pray that tomorrow I dont hate him even more and that he will prove me WRONG, please prove me wrong.
    I predict 2-0 with villa scoring both. And I also see the boys making this a harder match than it should be, idk why.

  9. @Lev

    SMasch is a squad player imo, we expect him to fill Busi’s position. A much more destructive force that is more than just cold hard steel like Keita. I was surprised by his debut because he integrated pretty well with the midfield in terms of passing and movement, some funky passes of course, but still impressive for his debut.

    Of course we wanna see more of him because we have yet to see him play against a side which has more possession against us than Hercules. We want him to win balls, break up plays, take the professional fouls (with zero percent violent aggression on opposition players, ahem.) and deliver the ball back to attack. If, a big if, he study our game well and discover how brilliant Busi is playing for us and somehow learn a thing or two in ball stealing and distribution, we are in a huge gain.

    Take a look back at Abidal who came to us around his middle or peak moment of his career, and look at THIS”*″ Abidal, I can’t help but to ask again:

    After playing football for so long, can a player around his late 20s still improve when they understand and adapt our system of play?

    To answer that question, we already have some proves like Abidal, The Yaya, but we also have some fresh new samples in the lab mixing and Maxing-Well. Fresh in the tube Adriano and Smasch. I fully hope we will transform them into another bunch of A-grade products. But for now, cut those yellow cards just as Pep warns you so.

  10. line-up prediction:

    Alves Milito Abidal Maxwell
    Xavi Keita
    Iniesta Villa Bojan

    Bojiiiii-an to start! Gijon just can’t defend midgets, so let’s roll out the smallest one. I do think Pep wants to rotate Pedro out as he has been starting the last couple of matches while Bojan sat. So, this is the one he will start.

    Milito-Abidal may look very risky, but Pique is definitely tired. Definitely. The way he played in his last couple of matches as a full-pitch player simply drained his energy to the lowest. Not gonna say we wanna underestimate Gijon, but we have Bilbao awaiting.

    1. I don’t think it will work with two lefties in the middle of defense. I expect one of Pique or Puyol to play alongside Milito.

  11. I hope we wrap the match up early so players like Thiago, Jeffren, or Nolito (if he is selected) can get some minutes.

  12. Some of the skill Thiago shows on here is just ridiculous:


    1. At around the 3:00 minute mark an opposition has a girl on their team I believe? I’m not familiar with the rules, U-20 teams are intramural? Thats kinda cool. Or it could just be a dude with girly hair.. 😀

    1. Sid Lowe said something about that the other day on twitter. Similar to the Wolves-Man Utd situation. Would be nice for us, so I can’t complain, but that shows major lack of ambition.

  13. Inda has been talking out of pocket over at Marca and has called Pep a fascist, accused him of inciting violence, and compared their dispute to the plight of a Jew living in Nazi Germany.

    What a sad character. He isn’t even respected at his own newspaper.

    1. This link explains it better:


      I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. From what I can understand (and admittedly my Spanish is less than stellar), Indi (or “The Hindu” as the Babel Fish likes to call him 😉 ) is accusing Guardiola of putting him in physical danger by inciting violence against him.

      This is all based on a statement that Guardiola made appealing to the press to be more responsible and to speak out against violence against players. He referred to a comment made by Indi back in April that in order to win, Real Madrid must “stop Messi by any means, civil or criminal.”

      This is where it all gets very surreal. You see, just like a certain nameless regime (ie. the Nazis) inspired its psychopathic supporters to execute it’s diabolical designs against the genetically inferior (ie. the Jews)– by first targetting them with civil and commercial penalties–so will Pep’s words undoubtedly cause legions of his Ary-I-mean-Catalan supporters to hunt Indi down and murder him in his bed. Because when what you say influences what others say and do, that’s just one step away from fascism.

      I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. Is this man actually insane?

  14. “Guardiola, al mas puro estilo fascista, me ha puesto en la diana. Si me pasa algo, él será responsable”, sentenció el director del rotativo.”

    Guardiloa, in the purest fascist style, has made me the target. if anything happens to me, he will be responsible.

  15. That shows the widening gap between BIG clubs and small clubs. They have already given up the match, bad for football in general. we need every match to be competitive. this is sad.

  16. In the 1/16 finals of the Spanish cup, Barcelona will play against third division club Ceuta.

    I think we’ll see the likes of Nolito, Thiago, and JDS.

  17. We might see Masch and Busquets in the mid with Iniesta further up and Villa/Pedro in the front. Basically the Vincent of the Forest stratagem. I would like to see how it works.

    3-1 Barca, goals from Xavi, Villa (x2).

    1. Of course I would want Thiago to start, but I don’t think Pep will give him that responsibility yet. I really do hope he gets in, though.

    2. I would like to see Mascherano, Busquets, Xavi in the midfield. Give Busquets some more freedom and see how he combines with Xavi further up the pitch. We could use Keita in San Mames.

  18. @Kxev
    I don’t always agree with every point of view or every single player rating in your review, but know that it is precisely because of my respect for your opinion on the game that I paid extra attention to David Villa when I had the opportunity to watch it again last night.

    Furthermore when watching it again I only saw him play 34 minutes (watched 2nd half, he got subbed 77th min) and wrote my observations based on those minutes – not to prove my contention, but only to share my opinion, with the honest disclaimer that I only saw the 2nd half twice.

    You say you aren’t taking any shit, well I’m sorry if you feel that I was giving you any. I don’t see why you have to reply that opinions are like assholes and all that stuff. I was under the impression that the comment section is for people to share their opinions, which I feel I do in a respectful(!) manner.

    As for player bias we might very well be biased without knowing it. My belief is that every human being is biased/prejudiced towards certain people and groups of people – more important is how we handle our bias. I am biased towards Villa over Ibra, for example, because I feel (and have felt for years) that Villa is the better player. That does not mean that I will say Villa played well when he played badly. I did not think he played particularly well, hence my comment that he sucked only half as much.

    For the record I believe you write your reviews and judge the players sincerely. We might disagree on our opinions of certain players – a difference of opinion which over time could very well be interpreted as bias.

    And again, dude, had I felt that your opinion is rubbish, would I have paid extra attention to Villa when I was watching the 2nd half last night? Not likely. It is because of respecting your views that I find them challenging when I do not (wholly) agree with them.

    If you want everybody to agree with every single thing in your review, then maybe you should only let your mother* read them. It would be our loss, but hey. As it is, I don’t understand why you start cussing when people disagree or leave tongue in cheek comments that you might like or dislike certain players.

    *no disrespect intended – based on my mother’s opinion of my photos I should be in Magnum right now, lol

    @clivee excellent point about Abidal’s improvement.
    What I am wondering about is, given Masch’ status and his price tag, will the fans and the press give him a year to adapt and improve, like, for example, Abidal? And will he have the determination to keep adapting and improving despite being our 5th choice(?) midfielder right now? Mmmmm

    1. Lev, I truly think that rant is directed at barca96’s comment, not totally you, but partly. That only part is about watching the whole match.

      What got on Kxevin’s nerve, I think, is the twist of evaluating a player with a standard and then say he has bias for or against certain player. It directly challenge the professionalism of Kxevin because he is a journalist who is trained not to be biased by circumstances and matters. I was amazed when he said he does not give any emotional response while watching any entertainment so as to keep himself calm and objective enough to rate the show.

      I am surprise so many people don’t see why Kxevin is angry about it. To say “ok, he is harsh on someone as usual” is an assumption of a person’s integrity. To say a person is completely not biased is not possible, but whether that person will show his favoritism to certain player is another. I can hate Ibra all day but when I rate him as a player for us, I need to have a scale or method to rate him. That we call it standard.

      And by the way, 32minutes is way too short to see it. You may have found quite a lot of brilliant moments in Villa in the second half, but the majority of time he was still static. The standard tells me that he has to at least be the same as Pedro’s movement, if not Messi’s. And track back more often than he did.

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