It was clear from kick-off that one person continued to dominate Barcelona’s thoughts.
The loss of Tito Vilanova has hit the club hard, and the club continued to pay tribute to their former manager.
An enormous banner was draped from the top of the stand opposite the tunnel as the players made their entrance onto a Camp Nou pitch bathed in sunshine.
On the front of their shirts was adorned “Tito Per Sempre Etern” (Tito, Forever Eternal). A minute’s silence was punctuated with cries of “Forca Tito” from the vast expanse of terrace.
The rallying cries were soon to be replaced with boos however, as Barcelona started the game with a real “end of season” feel about their play.
Even less so when Lafita equalized for the vistors after a well-worked free-kick.
It was another example of the sub-standard defending that has been a feature of Barca’s play all season.
What has become ever more noticeable over the last weeks is a lack of sharpness not usually associated with the Blaugrana.
Whilst credit must be given to any opponent for not allowing Barca to play their natural game, the inability to pick the lock once again is a real worry.
Given their precarious position of 17th and only two points above relegation, you would expect nothing less, and their equalizer wasn’t lucky, it was fully deserved.
With the greatest of respect, it is infuriating that against such routine, journeymen professionals, the extraordinary Barcelona talent on show is being made to look ordinary.
And it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies.
Whether or not Tata Martino is still the right man for the job is another completely separate argument.
These are professional players earning astronomical salaries and in many cases not putting in the effort that allows for such remuneration. Such a lack of professionalism is disgusting at this level.
There are notable exceptions of course.
The front three of Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez worked tirelessly for the cause and it was no surprise to find two of those names on the score sheet. But Barcelona can’t continue to hide behind the Argentine.
Lafita’s second deep into injury time purely underscored Barca’s shortcomings and put a final nail into their desperate end to the season.
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