Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Staring into the abyss

It wasn't like they didn't have chances. As Barça trudged forlornly off the pitch at El Madrigal having suffered a 2-0 defeat, they had only themselves to blame. 'dinho, Eto'o and Gudjohnsen all had opportunities but none of them were converted. Saves were made, the cross bar rattled and the ball was booted into the stand.

Utterly dominant in the first half yet abjectly failing to put the ball in the net, Barcelona were overwhelmed by a resurgent Villarreal in the second. Robert Pires, in what was his first start of the season, was fantastic, and his gol, reminiscent of his Arsenal days, was well taken. After they fell behind the blaugrana looked like the stuffing had been knocked out of them and the yellow submarine's second had a certain inevitability about it.

There was more drugery this week against Levante, a side who've been knocking around the lower reaches of La Liga all season and who ought not have presented such a stiff challange. Barça scraped past them thanks to a first half gol from Samuel Eto'o, who was horribly out of sorts against Villarreal. They're still a point clear of Sevilla, who thumped Espanyol 3-1 and two of Madrid, 4-1 winners away to Bilbao but looking at their past few performances, limping over the finishline seems about all we can hope for.

Away to Sociedad on Saturday ahead of the Real-Sevilla game Sunday, every match now seems cause for trepidation, for worry and concern. Where 1nce there was confidence and swagger there are now nerves and a lack of cohesion. Sociedad ought to be a breeze, second for bottom, they've been bloody useless all season despite their recent run of good results (up until this weekend anyway), but the certainty is gone. Barcelona can't win away and can barely manage it at home of late. You feel that one good win would be enough to right the ship because with so few games left it's still their Liga to lose.