Tomorrow 8pm we host Almeria. Now, 1 week ago, without trying to disrespect or underestimate the need to be prepared, this game looked like a relatively simple encounter. Show up focused, play our game, score a few goals early, and then ride it out. I mean they are dead last, have conceded 51 goals (2nd worst), and we already put 8 past them earlier this year.
But, some will say a little bit of karma has come back to create some concern. Valdes and Busquets both picked up purposeful yellow cards against Villarreal with a ridiculous skit about how Valdes couldn’t take the goalkick so Busquets had to, but it was clear it was to get booked for time wasting and to be safe for the Madrid match next weekend. At the time, I laughed and agreed with the course of action. It isn’t the most honorable thing to do but it’s not illegal and you are still only putting yourself at a disadvantage, nobody else. I’d still have done it despite the new twist. Pinto picked up a sprained ankle Wednesday before the Shakhtar game, which saw B team first choice keeper Miño earn a place as 2nd choice. Therefore, because Valdes got himself purposefully booked, and then Pinto got injured, Miño may just be between the posts tomorrow night. Honestly, I think Pinto will make it back. Ankle sprains are sore but can get decent rather quickly and as a goalkeeper he can strap it up and take some pain suppressants to get through the game. Also, photos of training saw Pinto exercising normally. Furthermore, because we are likely to hog up to officially 75-80% possession (but really 90%) we can keep the ball away from the goal and as a result whichever keeper should not have much to do.
The other big news of the week has been the increased tension between our president Rosell and Pep. It’s rather common knowledge that Pep was a Laporta man and never a big fan of our current pres. Now recently, Rosell has been saying some rather silly things, which come off as very arrogant and overconfident. Such as the 5-0 Villarreal comment and more recently he said we are going to beat Madrid 5-0 again in the Copa final, “to keep the custom alive”. These comments have greatly angered Pep who NEVER makes such statements not only because he is a gentleman and clever, but because it sends the team and players a terrible message that can lead to complacency. So they had a 2 hour meeting today to clear the air, where I’m assuming Rosell apologized and Pep said he cannot act this way and add flames to Madrid’s fiery motivation to run our Copa and Champions League dreams. Combining this with Pep’s comments last week about how he feels his time at Barça is coming to an end, well, it isn’t looking great for a long-term future together. This is a whole other issue to debate, so I will leave it here, but add I am saddened and concerned by these latest events.
So we are without Valdes and without Busquets for sure. Otherwise, could be a mixed bag. Seeing that we pretty much ended the Champions League tie, I don’t see the need to rest anyone. Honestly, I’d rather put the big guns out tonight early, and then sub them off and then rest one or two Tuesday in Ukraine. Like let Andres have a break while Masch and Keita play in the mid. I hope we see Puyol out there but the reports from training today are not promising. I hope Villa, Pedro, and Messi start and all get goals. I’m pretty sure Milito will start, especially if Pinto does not make it. On the left Maxwell may start to get his fitness better, but Adriano does provide a better attacking option. Masch should take the anchor role.
So that’s it. The goalkeeping issue adds some needed spice and intrigue to the match. It would be a real terrible shame if we do not get all 3 points tomorrow. Considering the Clasico bonanza coming up soon, we need to keep morale and belief as high as possible and losing or drawing tomorrow would not be recommended for that.
Enjoy the game. Força Barça