The captains Valdés, Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta, presenting the 2010/11 Liga trophy to the Camp Nou supporters. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
The draw in Vila-real has not left Barça in the best of situations in the league. They are seven points adrift of a Real Madrid side that is making very few mistakes. But it is too early for anybody to start saying the race is over. Barça is the best team in the world, and the fans have many reasons to still believe the league trophy will still end up in Catalonia.
- The team is able to overcome all kinds of setback. Guardiola's Barça is not known for giving up, and coming back from so far behind is perhaps the most enticing challenge they have ever been faced with. The club has won 13 of the 16 competitions it has played in over the last three and a half years, and in each one of the league campaigns, they still needed to travel to the Bernabéu before going on to clinch the title. The difference may never have been quite as wide as it is now, but this time it's Madrid who still have to come to the Camp Nou.
- Home form. Barça have been extraordinary at the Camp Nou, where they have got 9 wins and one draw, scoring 43 goals and conceding just the two to Real Betis. This season was the first ever in which they managed to keep a clean sheet in their first nine home league fixtures.
- Improvement on the road. But the team has drawn five games and lost one away from home (17 out of 30 possible points). That might still be the second best away record in the championship, but as far as Barcelona are concerned, it's a much poorer showing than in recent seasons. But if Barça win all nine of their remaining away games, they can still equal the record of 13 for the three previous seasons.
- Recovery of resources. The team has been missing several key players in recent outings. Short term injuries have affected Iniesta (3 weeks) and Pedro (his return depends on how things develop), and Keita is away at the African Nations Cup. All of those will soon be back, and Villa and Afellay could still return before the season is out.
- History speaks for itself. Barça have achieved amazing things under Guardiola, but well before his arrival, the club has enjoyed a history of extraordinary 'bouncebackability'. Two famous examples were the comebacks to win back-to-back titles with help from Tenerife (1991/92 and 1992/93), and the 1993/94 league that went down to the very last seconds, as well as 2003/04, which some say was the turning point for the magnificent Barça of today.