A world of difference
It was always going to be tough. Barça were always going to be relying on Madrid slipping up. And not just once either. Checking the result of the Real game on Sunday, minutes after seeing Samuel Eto'o pull up with a hamstring injury in the final of the African Cup of Nations was like a slap in the face, the polar opposite of my feelings a week earlier when Xavi's late late winner against Osasuna rocketed into the net.
Missing their best forward in Van Nistelrooij and a host of other players, they put seven past Valladolid (five before half time). On the back of the blaugrana's draw away at Sevilla, there is now an eight point gap at the top. By all accounts Madrid were simply awesome (like duh) and baring a serious injury to Casillas or an enormous hole opening up during a game at the Bernabeu and swallowing the all players they have it locked up. The majority of their games between now and the end of the season are at home where they never lose and Sevilla and Barcelona are the only teams who look capable of beating them there. It's not that I'm giving up, not by a long shot but let's be realistic. Eight points is massive. And the way Barça are playing, narrow 1-0 wins and nervous 1-1 draws, it's just not dramatic fight-back form.
On top of all this is a growing injury list which includes, amongst others; Eto'o, Henry, Deco, Zambrotta, Oleguer (what rotten luck, making his first start in ages he breaks a bone in his hand), Puyol, Jorquera, Bojan and Sylvinho. You could add 'dinho to that list too in all honesty considering how poor he's been (I think selling him in the summer is going to prove a real challenge. He's having a dreadful season and is on huge wages) The injuries to Eto'o and Henry are the most worrying as it's getting awfully thin upfront. Barça are also currently without a right back and I have no idea who's going to play there against Saragossa.
Buy buy buy
On the transfer front it would seem that Barcelona have an agreement to sign Argentine central defender/ right back Ezequiel Garay from Santander. This would certainly fit with the stories linking Gianluca Zambrotta with a move back to Italia. Garay is just 21 and very, very good. I haven't caught him this season at all (he didn't play at the Camp Nou a few weeks back) but last season he was fantastic, making thirty starts and scoring nine gols (he takes penalties). A good addition to the side if the story is true.
Finally, to my great surprise, my blog has been nominated in the category of Best La Liga Blog on Soccerlens.com. Click here to vote for me (although to be honest it's kinda a lost cause, fcbnews has it locked up :) Still, it's nice to be noticed. Bon nit.