Players to Watch: Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Luis Fabiano
Lionel Messi: The 23yr old little magician and reigning FIFA player of the year has recently shrugged off jokes about a potential transfer to Inter Milan claiming that he’s having too much fun at Barca and laughs it off (however doesn’t deny) the offer from Inter President Massimo Moratti. Barca’s tie for second place and Leo’s 5 goals are somewhat lacking as far as the typical panache we’ve grown accostumed to in the Catalonian capital, however, the tiny argentine will be as prepared as ever for Saturday’s match and always has something special up his sleeve planned when Pep Guardiola looks for leadership. Look for at least a goal from him on Saturday.
Sergio Ramos: He’s finally back from his injuries. He started yesterday’s “Copa Del Rey” match against Murcia and will attempt to shut down both David Trezeguet (French) and Royston Drenthe (on loan from the whites) this Saturday in Alicante. His aggressive style of play and overall physicality should make it difficult for Trezeguet (a striker) to get quality shots on goal.
Luis Fabiano: The Brazilian finally scored twice this past weekend ending his scoreless drought after his fellow mates struggled to squeeze out a win against Athletic Bilbao in the Sanchez Pizjuan. The Sao Paulo man has reiterated over the last few weeks that he enjoys his Sevillian lifestyle and is content playing in the Pizjuan to silence the critics claiming he’s a main target for the upcoming transfer window. He’ll have his hands full on Saturday trying to penetrate the Barca defense lead by Pique, Puyol, Alves, and Maxwell.
Impact Foreign Player of the Week: Jesús Dátolo,
Dátolo, an Argentine, has helped the Periquitos climb to an unexpected 5th place in the table with 3 goals in the last 2 matches. He has expressed a desire to stay in Catalonia after his loan spell (currently on loan from Napoli). The attacking left midfielder seems to only enjoy playing in La Liga and should have continued success this weekend against Deportivo La Coruña’s beat up defense.
Hot Team: Espanyol
Despite two lop sided losses to Real Madrid and Villarreal, los periquitos seem to be gelling. They have won their last 2 matches including a tough win over Mallorca with only ten men. They should have no problem with an away match against Depor and will rely on la liga veteran Kameni to give them support behind the net.
Cold Team: Racing Santander
A tie against Sevilla and two lowly wines against Almeria and Real Zaragoza are the only aspects of motivation that the fishermen have to go off of right now. After being crushed by both Real Madrid and Barca, they have had some solid early competition but have looked lifeless at times. Expect another loss this weekend against an Osasuna team that is fighting for their lives as well.
A Few Predictions (using the Quiniela Format):
Barcelona v. Sevilla: 1
Hércules v. Real Madrid: 2
Valencia v. Real Zaragoza: X
Athletic Bilbao v. Getafe: 1
Malaga v. Real Sociedad: 1
Trainer to Watch: Esteban Vigo
The former Xerez trainer will lead his Alicante team against the biggest club in the world on Saturday night against arguably the best mananger in the world (Jose Mourinho). The former Barca player’s new club hasn’t been in the primera liga in 13 years but has had early success with Royston Drenthe and David Trezeguet leading the way. His squad beat Barca in the Nou Camp, almost beat Valencia, beat Sevilla, and tied Villarreal. He’s doing something right and will surely have his hands full Saturday as Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, and Iker Casillas come to town.
Match of the Week: Barcelona v. Sevilla
The Saturday night marquee match will not disappoint as the Sevillan squad heads up to Catalonia. Jesus Navas should be ready to return to action. The always steady Andres Palop will face off against Victor Valdes in goal and this will be one to watch. Gregorio Manzano v. Pep Guardiola in the coaches’ battle will surely be entertaining. It’ll be a close match but I see the home squad barely surviving with a 3-2 victory.
About the Author
Written by Timothy Ashe Jr.
Tim was born and raised in Downers Grove, IL (a suburb of Chicago). He graduated with a degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign and also holds University English Language Excellence certificates. He's fluent in Spanish and teaches both English and Spanish in his spare time. He's a Real Madrid and Chicago Fire aficionado and is partial towards the EPL and LFP. His hope is that the game of soccer can continue to grow in the U.S.A. and for our men's national team to eventually win the World Cup.