Next Wednesday's game in Málaga is a critical moment for Barcelona, who, having lived through the good times in the first half of the season, have suddenly seen things get complicated at the start of 2013, with a two all draw in the Cup in the first leg against Málaga and the 3-2 defeat last night in San Sebastian when the team were winning 0-2 after 24 minutes.
With that backdrop, the game on Thursday takes on particular significance, as a key date for the Catalan giants to face up to without coach Vilanova in the dugout. It will be Roura in charge, with the possibility of a win taking them into a new Copa del Rey clásico against eternal rivals Real Madrid.
What is yet to be seen is whether Tito will be able to take charge of the team, or attend training, when he returns from his latest medical consultations and treatment in the US. Up until now he has been able to combine the two with no problems.
Puyol spoke about Thursday's game: "It's an important match, but we can't go mad, nor think everything is riding on this one match. We need to be calm". Xavi also offered his opinion: "It will be tough, so we need to play our best football". Tito will be cheering them on from a distance.