Preview: FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club (game 14 liga 2012/13)

barcelona 2-0 athletic bilbao messiSaturday night is firmly booked for football this weekend with two massive games served up in La Liga. At 8 pm Barça play host to Bilbao´s Athletic Club and the game will be immediately followed at 10 pm by the Madrid-Atlético derby.

As Tito Vilanova rightly said earlier this week: ‘if Barça win then any result in the Madrid derby is a good one’. Barça are in a good moment. Messi and Iniesta are both on form which is fitting for Ballon d’Or finalists and both players must strike fear into opposing defenders, while David Villa has been finding the net with his old regularity. With Piqué and Puyol back our defence has looked more solid in recent games while Valdés seems to have got over his early season wobbles. We also have Thiago back to add to the mix going forward.

With all the recent talk about La Masia after we fielded 11 homegrown players for an hour at Levante, I feel it’s worth pointing out that since Busquets and Pedro established themselves as first-team regulars nobody has made the leap from the B team to being a first-choice regular in the team. This is not a complaint, just an indication of how tough the final step up can be. Thiago has come the closest but with competition for a place from Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas he knows he will need to continue developing and learning to be considered first-choice player. We’ll see how far the likes of Montoya, Bartrá, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Cuenca, Tello and Deulofeu make it. They certainly have the talent for long professional careers but for my money the best two prospects are the Alcántara brothers Thiago and Rafinha.

Back to tommorrow’s game. Bielsa’s Athletic have been having a rough time this season’s after the success of the Argentine coach’s first term in charge. Losing Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich was a big blow for the Basques and they are struggling in 14th place in the table on 15 points. Bielsa has a problem in defence after right back Andoni Iraola pulled a muscle in training yesterday. There is the option of playing 19-year-old Jonas Ramalho or of restructuring the team with De Marcos moving to right back, Muniain moving back to midfield and Ibai coming in on the left wing. Aritz Aduriz who has scored 11 goals in 18 games this season should return after suspension in place of the out-of-favour Fernando Llorente.

The game shouldn’t be too different from Barça’s 2-0 victory in last season’s fixture in April with one-on-one battles all over the pitch as both teams try to outpress each other. Games between the two teams are always a great spectacle and tomorrow shouldn’t be any different. Messi will make his 350th Barça appearance and we will all be hoping he can get on the scoresheet with just three more goals needed to equal Gerd Muller’s record. However, the most important thing is that Barça win as we can then sit back and enjoy the derby. Personally, it will be a bit complicated to follow the game as I will be writing up my match report for Barça. However, I will be cheering on for a draw and if not then an Atlético victory.

Possible starting lineups:

Barça: Valdés; Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa.

Athletic: Iraizoz; Ramalho, Ekiza, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe; Herrera, Iturraspe, De Marcos; Susaeta, Aduriz, Muniain.

Prediction: Barça 4 Athletic 0

Date: Saturday 1 December 2012. Kick off 8 pm local time.

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4 Responses to Preview: FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club (game 14 liga 2012/13)

  1. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club (game 14 liga 2012/13) « Views From The Bullpen

  2. barcacentralomer says:

    @Nic: I’m a bit disappointed that among the entire group of B team players trying to grab a regular slot in the first team, your picks are both midfielders. Its not a bad situation to be in when you have so many top class midfielders in your side but I was hoping you’d pick one out of Muniesa, Fontas, Bartra and Montoya. Perhaps my expectations of La Masia grads have skyrocketed with the success we’ve had in recent years of the reserve team players easing themselves into the senior side. While we’ve never had a shortage of world class midfielders and even some wingers/forwards making it to the Barca first team, its a bit strange that after Puyol, La Masia hasn’t been able to churn out a few top notch defenders that are capable of breaking into the senior team. I know Pique is a La Masia product as well but to be fair, if he was that good, would he have been sold in the first place to Man Utd. where he was able to develop his skills further and up his game before returning to FCB. His form over the past year or so hasn’t been exactly world class either but lets hope Tito can bring back the Pique of 2009-10.

    Nic, I hear we have a youth team player from Cameroon who looks promising and then there is that LB Grimaldi (I think that’s his name) who we should see in a few years in the A team. Any other youth team prospect we should be watching closely?

    Bilbao with their Basque players policy have a decent youth system as well and under Bielsa played some of the most eye-catching football in La Liga. Too bad the departure of Martinez and Llorente’s contract wrangles have unsettled the squad and we’re not seeing the Bilbao of last season.

    • barcacentralnic says:

      Perhaps it is normal that given the type of training the youngsters get at La Masia we should produce more midfielders than anything else. That said I think their are plenty of interesting defenders and attackers too. You mention the two youngest members of Barça B who are left back Alex Grimaldo and the Camaroonian forward Jean-Marie Dongou and if they continue developing then they could both make it at the top. It is always complicated to predict which promising youngsters will make it. A couple of years ago there was a lot of hope for Gai Assulin who left us to join Manchester City. I was surprised last week to see him turning out as a substitute for Racing Santander in the Spanish second division which suggests he hasn’t quite fulfilled his early potential. There are plenty of others in the ranks but one who I particurlarly like (another midfielder I’m afraid) is the Moroccan Ayoub Abou Oulam who is currently playing for Quique Alvarez’s Cadete A team (under-16s). However, he’s still only 14 so there is a long way to go.

  3. cftc10 says:

    Reblogged this on cftc10.

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