The 2012/13 season comes to an end tomorrow evening as champions Barça take on Malaga at Camp Nou. The game in itself means very little to the two teams though Barça do have the chance to equal the record points total of 100 set by Real Madrid last season. However, the occasion will no doubt be extremely emotional as it will be the last occasion to see Eric Abidal as a Barça player.
Besides Abidal there are other players who could also be making their final appearance for the club tomorrow. While there is still no official news it seems highly unlikely that David Villa will continue next season. Villa played a vital role in the successes of the 2010/11 season when the MVP forward line became our standard. He continued to perform well until his injury at the Club World Cup in December 2011 and many would say that his absence was one of the main reasons that Barça failed to win either La Liga or the Champions League last season. Having recovered from his injury Villa seemed to be finding his form at the start of this season when his goals per minute ratio was very impressive. However, it seems the lack of opportunities began to frustrate him and despite a couple of excellent games against AC Milan and Rayo Vallecano his form over the last few months has been disappointing. A new challenge at a new club will probably be the best move for him though for Barça it will mean losing not just the best Spanish goalscorer of his generation but also a genuinely top bloke.
The other name on everybody’s leaving list is Victor Valdés. Since his announcement in January that he did not intend to extend his current contract which expires in 2014 there have been all kinds of speculation about his future and possible replacements. This morning Valdés broke his silence by giving a press conference where he made it clear that he is sticking by his decision. There was no confirmation of an intention to leave this summer as he stated he would continue to defend Barça’s colours until the end. However, he stated that he is open to any solution that is beneficial to the club and to him so the possibility of a sale this summer is obviously still very high. Unless the club can secure a top replacement then I feel we would be foolish to let him go this summer. Personally, I like Ter Stegen more and more but I would be very disappointed if we sign Pepe Reina.
So with sale of neither Villa nor Valdés officially confirmed it seems the only official goodbye at tomorrow’s game will be from Abidal. Following his emotional press conference yesterday (watch the translated version in English here) it seems quite likely there will be a tear or two shed again.
Talking of shedding tears, I’d just like to say how sad I was to see that Leo Messi has been using his time to do embarrassing modelling shots for a well known fashion company. Leo! you do not need to do this. You don’t need the money and you certainly don’t need tarnish you image in this way. Please leave this type of thing to the Beckhams and Cristianos.
Possible starting XIs:
Barça: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Abidal, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Alexis, Fabregas, Villa.
Malaga: Caballero; Gámez, Lugano, Weligton, Eliseu; Camacho Toulalan; Joaquín, Isco, Baptista; Saviola.
Prediction: Barça 3 Malaga 1
Date: Saturday 1 June 2013. Kick off: 7 pm local time.