Here comes that feeling we all know too well, the tingling sensation that comes with anxious expectation about the start of the new season for FC Barcelona. Even though there were two official matches already under way in the Super Copa (that we won 5-3 in aggregate), the first match of the La Liga season is always seen as the first of many tests that are about to come to FC Barcelona. Will we see another mesmerizing display of fluid and accurate football that is our identity, or will our opponents refuse to yield and proceed to stifle Barca in our journey to ascendancy?
With merely hours before the La Liga kick-off, fans of FC Barcelona are given another saga to behold, with a feud gone bad between Ibrahimovic (and his agent Raiola) and Guardiola. While it looked to be unavoidable that Ibrahimovic (28) leaves eventually, it is the manner that the event finally unfolds that takes a lot of the fans by surprise. It gives a sense of a repeat irony, with the history of a long list of stars that exit this club with a sour aftertaste. But even if Ibra’s transfer may not be beneficial financially, we can’t take away credit from the board or Pep in the successful transfer of Javier Mascherano (26) and Adriano Correia (25) for a relatively small fee.
In the footballing side, things look all well and good as there is ample signs that David Villa (28) will provide a much needed mobility and goals from our striker in the final third. Adriano looked like a real contender for the starting spot in either right or left wingback. If the last match against Sevilla was a preview of what we will see in a lot of matches next season, it is that Lionel Messi (23) will be utilized (yet again) as a false no.9 supported by two wingers that are either able to dribble and pass like Iniesta or Maxwell, or give a threat from curved shots and mobility such as Pedro or Villa. If that is indeed the case, then we will see the midfield trio of Xavi (30), Busquets (22), and Keita (30). Barring any unfortunate incident (knock on wood), we will be able to see Mascherano debut hopefully at the next home game against Hercules on September 12.
Predicted Starting XI – Valdes-Puyol-Pique-Alves-Adriano-Xavi-Busquets-Keita-Iniesta-Messi-Villa.
Racing Santander SAD
Racing Santander acquire the service of left back Domingo Cisma (28) from Alvarez, midfielder Adrian Gonzalez (22) from Getafe, and our loaned out Brazilian central defender Henrique (23). On paper, these two transfers (because Henrique has been playing with them since last season) don’t really compensate for the loss of Sergio Canales (19) who played as their attacking midfielder for 32 times last season.
After barely edging out of relegation zone last season by 3 points and placed in 16th spot in La Liga, it may turn out to be a very difficult season for the Los Verdiblancos. Usually playing a 4-4-2 system, their biggest problem right now lies in their difficulty in scoring goals, and with Canales gone, it remains to be seen whether their two strikers, Tchite and Bakircioglu, will provide enough threat for FC Barcelona’s defense. It is highly probable that they will only scrape for a draw, drawing both central midfielders deep and instructing both wingers to backtrack to help their fullback.
Predicted Starting XI: Tono-Pinillos-Oriol-Henrique-Cisma-Arana-Diop-Colsa-Serrano-Tchite-Bakircioglu
The first goal will be key here because after the goal, the team who is scored against will try to find a quick reply. Every passing minute the score stays level will be like a confirmation to Racing Santander’s confidence that they can hold FC Barcelona at bay. Expect a hard fought battle that will climax with a lot of goals after the first goal is scored.
Racing 0 – 4 FC Barcelona