Keeping in mind the mood after the Clasico, there would have been few doubts when deciding between playing well and losing or playing poorly and earning three points. There are moments when the result prevails. And the result was fundamental this weekend. A defeat would have further damaged the mood around Barcelona, but the win against Real Sociedad, without playing especially well, helped settle some nerves.
The games when you ease to wins will come. But a tricky game against La Real, who at once again showed the form that's taken them to the Copa del Rey final at Camp Nou, was always going to be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
We're witnessing a league marked by inconsistency and there will be weeks, like this one, when you have to roll up your sleeves to stay alive in the fight for the title. One club is in crisis one week; the other the next. It all depends on whether Real Madrid or Barça have suffered the latest setback. Barça have gone from a supposedly dramatic Clasico defeat back to the top of the table a week later after Madrid's loss against Real Betis.
In this constant back and forth, there's an excess of analysis on the planning, the players, the directors and the change of manager(s). It doesn't matter, nor is it interesting. Honestly, it is not the moment. There are two months of competition left and two big trophies in play. It's about focusing on football. There are obvious issues that right now have no solution and should not be debated after every game, but they do serve as the pretext to the mini-crisis that feeds the negativity around the Blaugrana. Every small detail, even if it lacks importance, like the controversy with Eder Sarabia, contributes to making the problem bigger. Protect the team from the noise and let them throw themselves into getting results in the short-term.
It's evident that Barça, this season, are struggling to impose their style away from home. Points away from (18) are dwarfed by their form at Camp Nou (45 points). It also translates into goals scored at home (45) and away (18).
When a team lacks elements to unbalance the opposition in the final third and the opponent focuses on neutralising Lionel Messi, you're going to struggle away. In that sense, a player like Martin Braithwaite excited the fans on Saturday because he offers something that's been lacking: direct runs in behind the defence. Exits and injuries have conditioned the team and the squad is tight at this crucial stage of the season.
The obstacles are evident, but at the moment it's time to free the club from external pressure and focus specifically on the stars on the pitch. Even resorting to Cruyffismo by way of comparison does not benefit any coach -- and not Quique Setien. As much as it is a term that fills me with pride for obvious reasons.
A Basque final in the Copa del Rey
I am a huge fan of the format that rewards the best team over 90 minutes, like in England's FA Cup. Supporters want surprises. A two-legged game only ever benefits the big teams. I celebrate a Copa del Rey final between Basque rivals Real Sociedad and Athletic Club de Bilbao. Competitions like this reconnect fans with football.
I DON'T LIKE
Coronavirus closing stadiums
Protecting public health is above anything else. But it's a shame that coronavirus is having such an effect on sport. Sport is for the people and without spectators is loses its essence. Games behind closed doors are the lesser evil, though, as suspending competitions and growing the calendar at this stage of the season would bring worse consequences.