Copa Del Rey Preview: Alavés vs BarçaBy: Ade C. | October 29th, 2012
Here it is! The competition you were not looking forwards to and had, in fact, probably forgotten Barça had to play! Aren’t you excited?!
Barça will make their debut in the Copa del Rey against third-division Alavés, which doesn’t sound very exciting on paper, but… no, it doesn’t sound very exciting at all.
For this clash of titans, Tito has called up a 16-man squad: Pinto, Alves, Montoya, Song, Adriano, Mascherano, Bartra, Jonathan Dos Santos, Busquets, Iniesta, Cesc, Villa and Alexis from the first team, and Sergi Roberto, Tello and Oier from Barça B. NOT making the trip to the Basque Country are Messi, Xavi, VV, Pedro and Jordi ‘The Killer Squirrel’ Alba.
What’s that? That Tito only called up three Barça B players, which is more like two because Tello doesn’t count? I’ll sit here while you whine about how Tito is not Pep.
Done? Alright, then let me remind you that Barça B had a match re-scheduled for this Wednesday (after the original date was interrupted by the pitch turning into a swamp), and Tito cannot in good conscience drag the kids off on an excursion when Eusebio will need them for… whatever it is he does with them that has them in the middle of the Liga Adelante table. Hmph. But now it’s not the time to grumble at our youth team, but to see what Tito can do with the squad he does have!
With VV having been given the day off, it seems obvious that Tito will continue the tradition of invoking the Pintocalypse for CdR matches, which… well, it works, or at least is entertaining. And surely the odd defensive shuffle against Rayo (Busi and Adriano partnering at CB while Song played defensive midfielder) was done so that Marc Bartra could play both in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. He can either be babysat by Masche, who rested the weekend with a one-match suspension, or we can risk it all and throw Song into the mix and give Alavés a sporting chance.
With the Killer Squirrel resting, Adriano must surely take over the left flank… but what about the right? Granted, Rayo weren’t the most challenging rival, but we didn’t miss Dani Alves at all during those ninety-odd minutes; his attitude and focus have left a lot to be desired this season and Montoya -serious, reliable and a lot less imprecise with his crosses- is making eyes at the place in the starting eleven. Well, perhaps we could play Dani Alves against Alavés and save Montoya for this weekend’s match against Celta.
And in the midfield… well, JDS has got to play. If he doesn’t get a look-in in this match, he might as well follow Fontàs’ example, pack his bags, and leave. This is his chance. And, to keep him company, what about fresh-faced Sergi Roberto and -if only because someone has to look legal- Iniesta, getting back to top form? Cesc has been playing a LOT under Tito, and even I wouldn’t be so cruel as to say that burning him out in the first half of the season is the best way to take advantage of whatever talent he has concealed under the very impressive bedhead he’s sporting these days.
And on top? Tello, Villa, and Alexis. All three have things to prove. Villa needs to get back to the point where he can play the full 90 minutes; Alexis needs to… oh, I don’t know… score. And Tello needs to continue being awesome so that he can finally sign his contract as a first team player.
So, my proposed line-up is,
Actually, the front three can play in virtually any configuration, they’re awesome like that. And I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Tito decided to play a 3-man defence, leave Song at DM, and push JDS, Sergi and their nanny further upfield.
In any case, let’s remember Pep’s lessons and not take this match for granted: at best it’ll be a chance to see some ‘new’ players, and at worst, a time to remember that this team is human and the unbeaten run they’ve got going on this season (heart-attacks and all) cannot last forever.
We’ll (probably) be commentating the match live on Twitter and we’ll bring you highlights and a review after. Take care in the meanwhile, particularly if Hurricane Sandy is coming your way!