As if Manchester City’s task in the Nou Camp this evening was not tough enough following Barcelona’s 2-0 victory in the first-leg of the last-16 Champions League tie, it got a whole lot tougher following the weekend’s results.
Barcelona slipped to a shock 1-0 defeat away to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid, leaving the reigning champions’ title hopes if not in tatters then certainly in considerable doubt.
If Real Madrid win all their remaining matches, they will win La Liga. It is that simple. And although City may find motivation of their own following their FA Cup defeat to Wigan Athletic, Barcelona and their fans will know that only one result is an option tonight.
With the domestic title less likely than when Barca were fighting tooth-and-nail with Atletico Madrid earlier in the campaign, progression in the Champions League is an absolute must.
There are some that say this Barcelona side is on the wane, and their recent results would suggest that may be true.
But at home, they are very close to perfection, having won all but one of their matches at the Nou Camp in all competitions to date.
That one blip was a 3-2 defeat against Valencia, which was quickly followed by a 6-0 trouncing of Rayo Vallecano and a 4-1 victory against Almeria.
And while it is likely to be considerably closer this evening, the fact that Gerardo Martino’s side have so recently suffered the ignominy of losing to a side who have won just five league matches all season means Barca will be fully focused on completing a job they will know is only half done.
As Martino himself said in the build-up: “The best thing is to think it’s still 0-0 to try to win the match.”