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And suddenly, Barça lose

Barça have lost for the first time in the league. Between confidence and fatalism a match they appeared to have taken care of early on got away from them. Piqué's sending off and Mascherano's slip-up for the last goal were the keys. No blame can be attributed to Victor Valdés, but the defeat comes in the week that he announced what many had feared: that he doesn't want to be eternally Barça. He won't renew his contract, he doesn't dream of being a 'one club man'; instead he wants to try other things. No more details about the affair have come out, but for some time now the goalkeeper has not been as integrated in the squad as would be ideal.

All this coincides with Tito Vilanova's illness, a sensitive subject which is out there and which also affects the running of the club. He will have to visit New York to continue his treatment. His guidance will be to some extent absent and concern for his health will affect the spirits of the team. Luckily for Barcelona the advantage they have built up over Madrid is already decisive and probably is over Atlético as well, although if they win today at least the sums can be done on the fingers. Once Barça have lost one it's reasonable to think they can lose more. And they have to visit the Calderón and the Bernabéu...

Honestly, I think this League is theirs, although there may be moments when we can pretend otherwise. But there is still the Copa del Rey and the Champions. If Barça's domination weakens the Copa opens up and in the Champions they will no longer be the bogeyman. Maybe that's where Madrid have their chance of finding happiness this season, but for that to happen Mourinho needs to start being sensible. His latest behaviour (the argument with Cristiano, two days off for the squad, his skiving yesterday) doesn't appear to herald an improvement, but who knows. It will be revealing to see what team he plays today. That should allow us to know if he is correcting the situation.

Estadísticas AS.com