The last minute goal from Angel Lafita to give Getafe a 2-2 draw last Saturday was a huge blow for Barcelona, although it's proven to be not too costly with the rest of the top sides also dropping valuable points.
With the penultimate round of matches due next weekend, it's all set up for a dramatic finale in a fortnight's time. Naturally, Gerardo Martino expected both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to gain the wins that would have seen Barcelona six points from the summit.
"We’ve already given everything we had to give in the League," admitted Martino after the match, according to AS, per Football Espana. "Obviously we wanted to have given more, but if we have been unable to win today then we didn’t deserve to reach the final day with more options."
But that hasn't proved to the case, Barca are still in the title race, and, with Atleti losing, they have gained a point on the leaders. The Argentine coach continued:
The balance is that it is not a good level or personal level for Barcelona this season. This is not happiness. We're unable to achieve any trophy and at no time have we seen the best version of Barcelona this season. I had the drive for that this season but we have been away from that level. [The Neymar issue] is an excuse when things don't go well. I don’t like making excuses to avoid responsibility.
There is still a very slim possibility of Barcelona winning the league, but there is a chance, and it was surprising to hear the lack of fight in Martino's comments.
He wasn't the only one to dismiss a comeback. "I guess the Liga is over for us now," Sergio Busquets told reporters in the mixed zone. "We should learn from this for the future."
Even Xavi appeared to point toward next year: "We feel bad," the midfielder said to reporters. "We didn't live up to the expectations this season. We have to be self-critical and start all over next season."
The players were all disappointed with the result, but to publicly admit they were out of the race when there is still a small opportunity isn't something we have come to expect from the club.
That's down to Martino.
As the manager, he sets the tone, and he could have said that they would continue to work hard. He could have said that they will aim to take six points out of six and finish the season strong, regardless.
This lack of positivity is evident, and it's understandable for the players to be sending out similar messages. They might be able to win the league if all results go their way, but their attitude suggests they won't take advantage.
"Until it’s mathematically settled you can’t venture anything," argued Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo on Spanish radio, per Football Espana. "Celta Vigo are a great team, Real Valladolid are trying to avoid the drop, Elche can play and Malaga are precarious. Everyone has the same problem."
It's, of course, easier to say this when you're still top of the league, but the margins are minimal, and he is right to continue in this way.
"This Sunday can clarify many things. We all have to play and you can’t give a verdict," said Cerezo in an apparent criticism of those in Catalonia.
Barcelona has faced a lot of adversity in recent times, and the consequences of the off-field issues are clearly affecting the team's morale and energy.
When they should be trying to put pressure on those above them, they are essentially admitting defeat. They are waiting for the season to end, and Martino appears to be counting down the days.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!