Barcelona swam against the current to get back into the title race but La Liga will escape them in the end. They did the difficult part, cutting down a 10 point gap on Atletico, but on the day they could have gone top, at home to Granada, they imploded, losing 2-1 at Camp Nou.
In reality, Barça's chances of winning the league died that day. Not mathematically, but because of the devastating effects of the loss on the squad's morale.
Barça led 1-0 and were heading top at half-time but Granada were gifted two goals after the break to win the game. After the final whistle, the faces of the Barça players were of disbelief more than anything.
SPORT revealed at the time that, after that huge disappointment, coach Ronald Koeman and some of the heavyweights in the dressing room had a brief chat in the heat of the moment. The tone and the conclusions of the conversation was not positive. The opposite. In that conversation, the same night as the defeat, there was negativity, anger and frustration.
"We've thrown away months of hard work," could be heard from the dressing room that day.
Given time to cool down, as is normal, the team pulled together to focus on beating Valencia and staying in the fight. However, the dressing room felt that their run towards the title had been stopped in its tracks. Months trying to cut the gap brought fatigue, more mentally than physically. Barça's schedule in 2021 has been non-stop and beating Granada would have been compensation for all of that. But they came up short when it mattered once again.
It was like coming back from 20 points down in basketball to then concede two three-pointers in succession. Rowing against the current had worn the squad down and they struggled to move on from the slip up against Granada.
It's true that Barça reacted against Valencia. At least in terms of the result. The reality is that even in that game the winning aura of recent months had been lost. And when the mind weighs, the legs weigh even more. After, two draws against Atletico and Levante have put the full stop on that Granada loss. That night, irreparable damage was done to the morale of the players which proved too much for the sprint finish. They're moments that, for good or bad, mark a season.