It wasn’t close to being a vintage Barcelona performance against Osasuna, but then maybe it didn’t need to be.
Football is a results-based game and with silverware virtually out of the window this season, getting three points from games becomes a paramount exercise.
Barca weren’t pretty to watch and at times they were very far from that indeed, but the history books will show a big W in the column and, frankly, at this stage, that’s all that really matters.
What will really grate is the loss of more players to injury.
Ferran Torres looked in that much pain, and was clearly very upset, that you have to fear that a hamstring injury will keep him out for some time.
INJURY NEWS | Tests carried out have revealed that first team player Ferran Torres has a right hamstring injury. He is out and his recovery will determine his availability. pic.twitter.com/9fejASBX4b— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 31, 2024
The sight of Ronald Araujo and Joao Cancelo strapped up and struggling is also a real concern and does bring into question the methods that Xavi and his backroom staff are employing.
So many players have been subject to injury this season and the pattern that’s emerged across 2023/24 doesn’t make for a glowing endorsement of the first-team squad’s medical team.
The injuries also took the shine off a brilliant night for Vitor Roque.
Coming on for Fermin who himself had been a substitute earlier in the game, he was soon in the thick of the action.
A sublime outside-of-the-boot cross from Joao Cancelo found him leaping like a salmon at the near post, and the Brazilian hit-man simply twisted his head to help the ball on its way into the net.
He’d only been on the pitch for a minute or so and it was obvious what the goal meant to him personally and for his team-mates.
Cancelo in particular couldn’t resist a proper old-school man hug to celebrate with a player that is still finding his feet in Catalonia as well as at the club.
It wasn’t the only good thing that he did on the night either.
His movement was sharp, his positioning good and he consistently managed to find space where there didn’t appear to be any at all.
If nothing else, this cameo appearance will have certainly put him in Xavi’s thoughts.
Whilst it’s unlikely he’ll get too many minutes against one of La Liga’s top teams, he should find himself getting a good run of games if they come against the lesser ranked sides in the division.