Barça take on Getafe at Camp Nou tomorrow night knowing that a victory would reduce the difference with leaders Real Madrid to just one point, though of course Madrid play at Atlético on Wednesday. Just over three weeks ago the gap at the top of La Liga was ten points but Madrid have dropped points against Malaga, Villarreal and now Valencia to leave the title race wide open. The game is important to Barça but not nearly as important as the outcome of Eric Abidal’s liver transplant operation which is supposed to take place tomorrow (though the club have not confirmed this information).
Pep Guardiola has just three first team defenders available tomorrow as Gerard Piqué is still recovering from his hamstring injury and Dani Alves picked up a slight thigh strain in the 1-4 win at Zaragoza on Saturday. Martin Montoya who came on for Alves at La Romareda could continue at right back unless Pep decides on a back three of Mascherano, Puyol and Adriano. The rest of the team will depend on who is fittest. We now face eight games in four weeks: Getafe, Levante, Chelsea, Real Madrid (now confirmed for Saturday 21st April at 8pm), Chelsea, Rayo Vallecano, Malaga and Espanyol. We will need to be strong both mentally and physically and Guardiola faces some tough decisions for team selection.
Getafe have more or less secured their place in the Primera División next season and sit comfortably in 10th place on 42 points. However, they now have their sights on a possible place in Europe next season so they still have everything to play for. Getafe have never won at Camp Nou but they usually give us a close game and they have managed two draws in their seven league visits. The most recent contest between the two sides was of course at Getafe at the end of November when a goal from Valera gave Getafe a 1-0 victory in our first defeat of the season.
As culés, it is normal we have a renewed optimism, and after seeing the Real Madrid players’ faces at the final whistle of their 0-0 draw with Valencia I think it is fair to say that the pressure is showing. However, Pep Guardiola is quite correct to say that a great great deal of work remains in the coming weeks. We have won our last nine league games which is remarkable enough but if we are to clinch this title we will probably have to win our last seven. This would take us to a run of sixteen straight league wins, something we may have achieved once before in our history. But doing something once in our history certainly does not mean it is a piece of cake to repeat.
The Barça way is to look at each game as it comes and for now only Getafe exist. We have good reasons to want a victory: first, to get revenge for our defeat in November, second, to keep up the pressure on Madrid in La Liga, and third, and most importantly to dedicate to Eric Abidal. Tomorrow our thoughts are with you Abi.
Possible Barça XI: Valdés; Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta, Fabregas; Alexis, Messi, Cuenca.
My prediction: Barça 2 Getafe 0