Vilanova and Abidal / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

The 2012/13 season, Tito Vilanova’s first as head manager of FC Barcelona, saw the Blaugrana win their fourth Liga title in five years. Barça’s campaign couldn’t have been more perfect, the team broke the Club record for points won in a single season (100) and for goal scored in a single season (115). The Super Cup, Cup and Champions League, however, all slipped away from Barça’s grasp.

Spectacular start

FC Barcelona officially kicked off the 2012/13 season with the Spanish Super Cup, a title that slipped away by very little when Madrid won the two-leg tie on away goals (3-2 at the Camp Nou and 2-1 at the Bernabéu). In the Liga, Barça were nearly perfect. Six consecutive victories for the Blaugrana left Los Blancos trailing by 8 points after the first 45 days of the competition. In the seventh match, the teams came out of the Clásico with a final scoreline of 2-2.

Barça reached the halfway point of the season with a clear advantage at the top of the table. After winning 55 out of 57 possible points, Barça were 11 points ahead of Atlético Madrid and 18 ahead of Real Madrid. In the Champions League, Barça closed out the group stage as Group H leaders, ahead of Celtic, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.

Tito and Abidal

Just before 2012 came to a close, the year Leo Messi broke the record for goals scored in a calendar year, news broke of Tito Vilanova’s need to undergo surgery. It was bad news for Barça as the team had to continue competing without its head manager. Jordi Roura, Tito’s assistant, took over at the helm through March of 2013.

Both Tito and Abidal, who started recovering from liver transplant surgery in April, returned to the team at the end of the season. Their recoveries played a huge role in boosting the team’s morale as Barça were the runaway leaders of the league and semi-finalists in the Champions League. The Blaugrana had fought back from a two-goal deficit against AC Milan in the round of 16 and they defeated PSG in the quarter-finals. However, the team had already been eliminated from the Cup by Real Madrid (1-1 at the Bernabéu and 1-3 at the Camp Nou).

In the Champions League, a very superior Bayern booted Barça from the competition. The 4-0 and 0-3 from the away leg and the return leg, respectively, denied the Blaugrana a spot in the Wembley final. In the league, however, Barça went on to break records: 100 points won and the biggest advantage secured over the team in second place, Mourinho’s Real Madrid. It was Barça’s fourth league titles in five years.