Surely that’s it now? Surely Saturday night was the night the La Liga race was lost for Barcelona? Their situation was already on a knife edge before the match. They knew they had to be perfect for the rest of the season but once again it was their away form that has let them down. So imperious at home, so underwhelming away. Barcelona will not be champions of Spain this season.
Their latest away disappointment came on Saturday night in Pamplona against Osasuna. A much changed Barcelona side took to the field without Fabregas, Iniesta or Xavi and their missing influence on midfield was noticeable for all to see. This was the first defeat that Barcelona had suffered with Puyol in the team since losing away to Inter Milan in the Champions League two years ago. That defeat cost Barcelona the Champions League, this defeat has all but ended their chances of winning the Primera División.
Osasuna started the match like a shark that smelt blood. The team sheet from Barcelona must have lifted Los Rojillos enormously and given them the belief that the World and European Champions were there for the taking. And that’s exactly how the game started. Barcelona were 2-0 down in twenty five minutes, 3-1 down inside the opening hour. Despite getting another goal back and pushing hard in the last twenty minutes, an equaliser did not come. Osasuna deserved their victory and should be praised for their positive approach to the match and not sitting back after going one up. Instead they kept pushing on and looked to get further goals.
Barcelona are now a massive ten points behind Real Madrid and with their poor away form this season it is hard to see how they will manage to claw back such a huge defecate. If Barcelona had won on Saturday and then defeated Real Madrid at the Nou Camp the difference between the two sides would have been four points and the title would have gone down to the wire. As it stands now Real Madrid simply won’t lose ten points more than Barcelona in the remaining fixtures. Guardiola and his men are publically not throwing in the towel, as you would expect. But behind closed doors there will be an acceptance that the league is all but over for them now. Of course every effort will be made to win the last El Classico of the season and to save some face but with the Champions League now back under way it will come as no surprise to anyone if Guardiola keeps rotating his squad in the league and giving the likes of Xavi a rest.
To declare a title race over in February is a big call, especially when you’re declaring Barcelona as the losing side. But Barcelona’s away form has once again cost them and it has all but handed the title to Real Madrid. All eyes turn to Europe now for Barcelona, La Liga will be having new champions come May.