BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 23: Victor Valdes of FC Barcelona reacts dejected after Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid CF scored his team's second goal during the Super Cup first leg match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou on August 23, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Barcelona return to the scene of the crime today--the place, Pamplona, where they officially disengaged from the Liga last year, after a 3-2 loss to Osasuna.
Barcelona travel to the Reyno de Navarra (kickoff at 19:00 CET, 1:00 PM EST) with one thing on their mind: Real Madrid, and their upcoming visit to the Bernabéu for the second leg of the Supercopa de España. Which might be an issue for them, considering that last year their trip to Pamplona ended in a 3-2 loss, essentially ending their options for winning the Liga. That time, Barça came into Pamplona without their eyes on the prize, so to speak, their attentions diverted to what Madrid was doing, to the Champions League, to basically everything else.
They would leave with their eyes fixed squarely behind them, grimacing at the Stadium that had ended their Liga bid.
Admittedly, their Liga bid really ended when Cristiano Ronaldo streaked past Carles Puyol, and slotted a brilliant shot by Victor Valdés. But, if you ask a Culé, she'll point to the Osasuna match as the place where things really began to get disengaged.
Ironically, this stadium has been a weird place for Barcelona for some time now: two years ago, they missed the bus to the stadium, amid various weird occurrences, and had to start the match forty-five minutes late. People still don't understand the exact series of events that lead to that happening--a major sports team showing up late?
Out of the 34 total times the two sides have met in Pamplona, Osasuna has won 11, they've drawn 11, and Barça has won 12--and thirty-plus percent is not what you want when you're (already in a life-and-death points struggle with your biggest rival).
We expect Osasuna to throw out more or less the same lineup from their win against Depor in the first week--it was a good match, by all accounts. Barça, on the other hand, will look to come out with Cesc, on the bench during the clasico, David Villa, who needs to keep accumulating minutes, and possibly more changes in the starting 11.
This will not be an easy game for Tito Vilanova and company.