Run ends at 14 and the Valencia game tomorrow night
It had to be Athletico didn't it? The only team to beat Barça in the league thus far had to be the ones to end the run. Languishing in 11th place and seldom looking the sum of their expensively assembled parts, the matress makers seem only to play well against Barcelona. They've beaten them three times out of the last four (the other game being a frustrating 0-0 draw in the Vicente Calderon) and Sunday nights result was so completely inevitable, to typically FCB, to come within one victory of emulating the Real Madrid side of the early sixties with 15 wins on the bounce, only to blow it against the other team from Madrid, the crap one, losing their first home game since this time last season, a 0-2 defeat to, you guessed it, Athletico-bloody-Madrid. Barça were dreadful. Without Ronaldinho, Eto'o and with Leo Messi taken off injured at half time they were completely blunt and ala the Saragossa match in the Copa, all over the place at the back. It's as bad as they've played all season in la liga and doesn't bode at all well for tomorrows trip to the Mestalla to face second placed Valencia (Sky Sports 1, 8:00pm)
The squad for the game has been announced and while Eto'o is back from missing penalties at the African Cup of Nations, Barça will be without Deco (left leg), Messi (thigh) and 'dinho (suspended). Considering their current up-and-down form (two victories and two defeats in the last four) I think the best the blaugrana can hope for is a draw. Valencia are very tight defensively, David Villa is on top form at the moment (he's scored 14 thus far) and they're unbeaten in their last 11 league matches. After his abject perfromance against Athletico I imagine Gabri will drop back onto the bench with Oleguer at right back, the midfield will be Van Bommel, Edmilson, Iniesta with either Larsson or Santi Ezquerro coming in for 'dinho on the left of the forward line.
Unfortunately I won't see that match as I'm working Sunday night (and most nights from now on, I don't know what I'm going to do for the Chelsea games...)
Round up: Out of the Copa, Eto'o to keep his nerve and a new pitch at the Camp Nou
As I'm sure you know FCB were knocked out of the Copa despite winning 2-1 in the return leg against Saragossa (who went on to trounce Real 6-1 in the first leg of the semi-final, have a read of the hilarious match report on realmadrid.com). Old news at this stage.
Second up is Samuel Eto'o, still top scorer in La Liga despite his two week absence, says he won't shy away from taking penalties after his miss in the epic shoot-out against La Cote D'Ivorie. Considering I've seen Sammy miss as many as he scores this is a brave decission indeed.
There's a new pitch at the Camp Nou! As the old one was dreadful this can only be a good thing.
Lastly, thanks to Jose for inviting me to catch FCB matches with you guys but at the moment, as I mentioned already, I'm working evenings and nights so unless Barça are playing on a Saturday I don't get to see the games.