it was a balmy -1C as our players trained in moscow yesterday. good thing our captain is impervious to cold. it’s puyi’s first away game and champions league game since benfica, and i’m very excited to see him play.
despite the cold, it was nice to see our squad enjoying themselves while touring and training. VV found himself in the company of a hardcore fan with his face inked on her arm. he is smiling in the photo, so he probably thinks this is a good thing. someone needs to remind him that in some parts of the world, this behavior can lead to some very scary things.
while pinto kept us updated about mealtimes, masche tweeted this cute photo of himself with jordi, pedro and busi:
busi’s back in business for both champions and la liga, having served his suspensions during the previous games. it’s good that he got some rest; i think tito will put him in the starting eleven tonight. hmmm, could tonight be that elusive all-canterano night? we’re waiting, tito.
tito and cesc gave the prematch pressers. cesc said they’re not here to draw but to win and that the pitch and the weather will not be problems nor excuses. tito said he doesn’t expect it to be easy because no champions league matches ever are. he also said that he’s glad that the captain is back because they count on him not only for his skill on the pitch but for what he transmits to the rest of the squad.
know your babies — tito brought along three players from the b team, and hopefully at least one of them will get subbed in tonight. (*technically, tello is still listed in the b team, but he was included in the first team roster this year)
first is oier olazabal, barca b’s #1 and keeper. 23 years old from irun, he was signed by fcb in 2007. he made his first team debut 3 years ago under pep, against mallorca with eto’o as captain.
next is gerard deulofeu, who at 18 years of age is one of the most promising strikers in the liga adelante. a la masia boy through and through, he made his first team debut under pep last year against mallorca. this year, under tito, he played in our first preseason game, against hamburg, and scored an amazing goal that won us the match.
last (and my personal favorite) is sergi roberto, who is 20 years old and a midfielder. He made his first team debut under pep in 2010, against ceuta in a copa del rey fixture. he is also the only one of the three to have played in a clasico, stepping in for villa at the bernabeu during a champions league clash last april. he scored his first goal also during a champions league match, the first in our 4-0 win against bate borisov last year.
speaking of that game, let me just say i really miss fontas.
this week in history — for those who have been living under a rock, this week is the anniversary of the historic ovation received by ronaldinho at the santiago bernabeu.
19 nov 2005 – rijkaard fielded a 4-3-3 of VV – oleguer, marquez, puyol (C), gio – xavi, edmilson, deco – ronaldinho, messi, eto’o against madrid’s finest (casillas, salgado, helguera, ramos, roberto carlos, pablo garcia, beckham, zidane, robinho, raul and the real ronaldo/el fenomeno)
barcelona won 0-3. the madrid crowd got on their feet and applauded an exemplary performance from our ponytailed striker.
my thoughts — we’re probably not going to see something like this for messi, as amazing as he is. one reason is that it’s too bitter now. back then, madrid were winning trophes left and right. barcelona hadn’t lifted a cup in ages. in recent years, the tables have turned. it’s hard to be gracious when your pride is wounded. but i think the bigger reason is that people’s values have changed. to a great extent, the fans’ reactions are fueled/influenced/justified by the team. seven years ago, they had raul and el fenomeno. they fostered an atmosphere of sportsmanship even during very tough clashes. now they have pepe and mourinho. after mou poked tito in the eye, the bernabeu sported a large banner saying “mou, your finger shows us the way”. slow clap. nuff said.
before i end and get a few hours of sleep prior to tonight’s match, i’d like to say ANIMS, MARC BARTRA! he got injured during training and was not able to join the squad in russia. estimated two to three weeks out, but he seems to be taking things positively.