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Comment: On Barcelona's Title Chances Following Defeat to Real Sociedad

David Ramos/Getty Images

As referee Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva brought proceedings to a halt at the Anoeta tonight, Culés across the globe bemoaned the performance of their team as FC Barcelona once again succumbed to defeat in San Sebastian against Real Sociedad. The 1-0 defeat marks the latest in a long line of disappointing away results at the Anoeta, a stadium in which the Blaugrana have not won since 2007 when Frank Rijkaard was in charge on the touchline.

It also marked the second successive defeat in La Liga for the reigning champions, and the third consecutive (domestic) match in which they have been unable to win – and if you dare to venture onto social media, or indeed into the comments section of a website like this, you’ll see that most Culés are quite unhappy about that.

Three games without a win? That’s not only deemed to be unheard of, that’s downright unacceptable in the online Culé-verse! And while all the inhabitants of this drab and dreary wasteland are in agreement on that point, they’ll probably argue long into the night to try and reach a consensus on who should be blamed for this particular aberration.

After all, in this day and age we simply can’t accept things and move on – nope, no siree! Every aspect of the match must be over-analysed, every individual performance scrutinised and of course, at the end of this hugely productive and completely objective exercise, blame can then be portioned out by the most omniscient among us – the armchair managers.

No doubt there will be individuals blaming Luis Enrique for his team selection tonight, claiming that the coach who masterminded a treble, and remains 100% against Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid was unfit to coach FC Barcelona in tonight’s match and that in fact they would have done a better job of it. I mean jeez, it was so obvious that the selection of "insert player name here" wasn’t going to work; he should have clearly selected Andrés Iniesta or Ivan Rakitić and resisted the urge to rest them ahead of a more important match this coming Wednesday.

And if Luis Enrique isn’t considered to blame for his team selection, then no doubt the enlightened Culé-verse will be baying for the blood of Arda Turan, Munir El Haddadi or another unlucky scapegoat instead. It’s not like football is a team sport played by 11 players is it, as the game is quite clearly won and lost based on whether Arda, Munir or the scapegoat of the week start.

I’ll be the first to admit that neither player impressed me tonight, but singling any single person out for tonight’s result is pointless at best, and downright counterproductive at worst. But of course, the Culé-verse don’t care about that – because once they’ve doled out the blame and settled on their latest scapegoat, they’ve got to continue on their path of negativity and share their prophecies of doomsday to the masses.

Despite nursing a three-point lead at the top of La Liga, some Culés would have you believe that the Blaugrana lost the title tonight, or were at least pushed out of the driving seat by the resurgent Atletico or Real Madrid. With six games to go in this La Liga title race, Culés who just recently witnessed their team go on a 39 match unbeaten streak are now claiming that disaster is just around the corner.

Sure, a three point lead isn’t as good as the nine point lead we had a few weeks ago, but let’s look at the remaining schedule shall we?

It all starts with Valencia at home next weekend; you know, the same Valencia that we beat 7-0 at the Camp Nou in January. That’s also the same Valencia who have lost nine of their last ten visits to the Camp Nou, and the same Valencia who continue to slide closer and closer to the relegation zone in what has been a utterly disastrous campaign.

Let’s run through the rest quickly:

  • We’ve won our last four visits to the Riazor, scoring on average four a game on our travels against Deportivo La Coruna
  • Sporting Gijon have never won a point at the Camp Nou. EVER.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in seven against Real Betis, and have won on their last two trips to the Villamarin. Equally noteworthy is that Betis, on average, score less than a goal a game at home
  • Espanyol have lost their last seven at the Camp Nou
  • If by chance it managed to go down to the last day of the season, Barcelona face Granada – a team that they have only failed to win against once in their entire history.

So that’s us; Atletico Madrid must still travel to San Mames and also have tricky home matches with both Malaga and Celta Vigo, the latter of which won at the Vicente Calderon back in January. In the penultimate match of their season, they have to travel to face Levante at the Ciutat de Valencia – their Anoeta – and a venue at which they haven’t won since 2007.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have to face Villarreal at home – and prior to the Clasico, they had picked up just two points in their matches against the top four. Factor in their own trip to the Anoeta and I ask the Culé-verse this: whose schedule seems worse in this title run-in?

Certainly it isn’t our schedule, and with a three-point cushion and a tie-breaker lead over our rivals, we remain firmly in control of our own destiny. So, as we work our way through this minor little blip, remind yourself of that fact – and consider how on Tuesday, it wasn’t negativity, criticism and blame that sparked a comeback against Atletico. Instead it was the unwavering support of the crowd at the Camp Nou that helped inspire our club to bigger and better things.

i si tots animem, guanyarem...

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