On a “normal” night, Barcelona beating Villarreal with a late goal from Lionel Messi would have taken most of the headlines. But not when it comes days after the death of former manager Tito Vilanova, and not when Dani Alves found a unique way to mock racism by eating a banana thrown at him from the disgusting home fans.
This wasn’t the first or last time a player will encounter racism from fans in Spanish football and especially when playing in El Madrigal. It doesn’t happen only in Spain – it’s all over, but unfortunately, there are those places that stand out on the racism map, rearing its ugly head too many times in sporting events.
A disease that needs to be dealt with in the harshest of manners. By authorities and police. Some places handle these things better than others, but every second, minute, hour and day that those with the power to change do nothing about this appalling behavior just sets up the next incident. Not everyone stares it in its ugly face and doesn’t flinch like Alves.
But there was also football. The same weak Barcelona team from the last six-seven weeks, especially on the road, found it impossible to score, as the championship became a fading star in the distance. But then things changed. An own goal, then another, and finally a great piece of passing that ended up reaching Messi, who didn’t get the cleanest of boots on the ball but managed to score, and keep Barcelona alive in the title race: Three matches to go, four points behind Atletico, including hosting Atletico on the final day of the season.
But there was more than the win. There was raw emotion, probably shackling Barcelona players throughout the evening. The death of Tito Vilanova who was an assistant behind Pep Guardiola during the wonder years of 2009 to 2011, and then the manager for most of last season which ended with another championship, was felt and seen on every face of Barcelona players. Javier Mascherano broke down and cried when the match was over. Seeing Pep Guardiola’s face while Bayern were winning 24 hours earlier was another fine example of how football wasn’t the most important thing for those who knew the man.
Football is huge. It sometimes consumes the lives of players, coaches and the fans more than all. But some days it takes the back row to bigger issues at hand. Remembering a former colleague and friend, while in the mean time trying to handle in the best way possible one of the most disgusting aspects still remaining in modern society.