La Liga preview: Deportivo La Coruña vs Barça, Or, Of Villa, Defenders, and the Lack of ThereofBy: Ade C. | October 19th, 2012
To everyone who is gleefully celebrating that Barça survived this international break with no injured players to show for it, let me remind you that -apart from the fact that most of our guys travelled a long way and played two full matches in a week-, the squad is so thin that Tito had to resort to calling up JDS (JDS!) to make up the numbers for our trip to A Coruña.
If only Fontàs had stayed a week longer… no, he probably wouldn’t have made the squad even then.
In the absence of Puyol (recovering from his dislocated elbow), Piqué (STILL recovering from his injury, even though he should have been back a week ago), Dani Alves (hopefully regaining his focus as he heals his thigh), Thiago (when is he supposed to be back this time, and will it stick?) plus Cuenca, Muniesa and Abidal… well, Tito has somehow managed to scrounge together 18 players.
This match is important, and not only because scientists still haven’t developed a cure for the FIFA virus. With the Clásico behind us, it’s crucial for the team to show that they can maintain their focus on La Liga and keep churning out good results under unfavourable conditions. Let’s not forget, Barça are sharing top-spot with Atlético de Madrid and it won’t do to start slipping now! And Barça play Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday (without Busquets, suspended, to add to the above list of absences), so they need the win, but they also need to reserve some energy and maybe even rest some important players.
Piece of cake, isn’t it?
The urgent, in-your-face problem right now is defenders. Or, more accurately, the lack of thereof. We have Masche, who flew to Argentina, played two full-time, fully competitive matches, and then flew back, probably while kickboxing or doing something equally impressive. Then we have Song, who had to travel with the Cameroon NT, see their dreams of qualifying for the African Cup dashed, and come back. There’s also Busquets, who got an early start playing CB for Spain because Del Bosque and Tito have a joint allergy to playing players in their proper position. Oh, and there’s Bartra, who had to miss the last match with the Spain U21s after… don’t giggle now, children… he was hit during training in a very important part of his anatomy and had to rest for a day or two.
On the bright side, we have a full three (3!!!) fullbacks to fill the two positions, so as long as Adriano doesn’t sneeze and sprain a toe, we should be fine on that front.
Business as usual at the back, then… and Barça has 99 problems, but a lack of midfielders ain’t and will never be one… but what happens further upfront?
There are three attacking positions to fill in most of Barça’s usual arrangements: Messi’s (whatever this might be, on the wing, dropping deep, as a false nine, or standing on his head while wearing a blaugrana tutu) and two more. Tito has -wisely- awarded one of those on a more-or-less permanent basis to Pedro, who has emerged from the ashes of last season like a taxonomically improbable mixture of phoenix and roadrunner, but the other spot is up for grabs.
I’ll gladly admit it, I’m a David Villa hipster. I wanted Barça to sign him before it was cool. I’ve cheered goals of his you’ve probably never heard about. I’ve stuck up for him through goal-scoring droughts and devastatingly long injuries. And now I want to know why the Hell Tito isn’t playing him. He was cleared by the medical staff weeks ago, and we all know that Barça are the opposite of careful in throwing players back into the fray after injury. He’s played well when Tito has given him a few minutes out on the pitch, and he’s even scored! What does he have to do to get a start? Surely Alexis hasn’t been that good that he can’t sit a few matches out; surely Tello (who is technically still a Barça B player until his renewal comes through) isn’t keeping him out fo the starting XI?
The official site even had a feature on how well Villa does at Riazor, this better mean he’s going to get some minutes!
In short, grumbling aside, my proposed line-up is:
Yes, Cesc. No, Ade has not been murdered by Kage and her handle isn’t being misused as part of a nefarious anti-Busquets campaign. But -no disrespect meant to Depor-, Xavi needs a rest in a not-life-and-death-match, and if Thiago isn’t around, we’re stuck with Cesc as a replacement; we might as well get some mileage of all those millions we invested on him.
For subs, I propose that -if the match is going well-, Song be brought on and played as a *gasp* defensive midfielder, because someone is going to have to do that on Tuesday when Busi isn’t there, and Masche has his work cut out for him on the defence. Trot out JDS a little too, he can’t possibly be worse than Cesc. And, whatever they do, don’t let anyone else get injured.
Sorry not to dedicate more time to talk about Deportivo, but a) we have enough problems at Can Barça to comfortably fill a whole preview, and b) they sit in the relegation places already (having won once -against beleaguered Osasuna-, drawn three times, and lost their last three matches).
Barça should be able to do this. Barça must do this. Barça will… probably make things exciting and give us multiple heart-attacks.
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Some Related Barcelona Posts:
- La Liga preview: FC Barcelona vs Granada CF: Defenders gone M.I.A.
- La Liga Review: FC Barcelona 5, Real Sociedad 1, Or, La Liga Is Back, Villa Is Back, MVP Is Back!
- Of Defenders, Celebrations and Mental Resilience
- La Liga Preview: Barça – Valencia, Or, Rotations Around The Messi Axis