This Saturday, FC Barcelona will play host to Getafe in an extremely vital Liga BBVA tilt at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona will look to keep pace with current table toppers Atletico Madrid, who lead the league by four points over the defending champions with only three rounds remaining. However, the club will be playing for more than their league title defense.
On Friday April 25, 2014, Tito Vilanova, former manager and assistant to Pep Guardiola, lost his battle with throat cancer at age 45. After playing for FC Barcelona’s B team in the late 80’s, Vilanova worked alongside Guardiola for five seasons in the Barcelona system from 2007 to 2012, four with the senior team. The staff would claim many titles during their term, including an astonishing six across all competitions in the 2009-10 campaign.
Vilanova was hired as Barcelona’s manager in June 2012 as Guardiola’s successor. While combating the cancer for a second time after being cleared from it the previous year, Tito led his side to a La Liga title, and even posted 100 points on the final league table, a distant fifteen points more than eternal rival Real Madrid, serving three spells in his single season at the helm. In July of 2013, Tito would suffer a relapse from his condition, and resigned. The news of Tito’s passing sent shockwaves not only in Spain, but in global football as well. The Camp Nou was open for supporters wishing to mourn the passing of one of their beloved heroes. All of Liga BBVA’s matches the past weekend shared a minute of silence for Tito.
FC Barcelona’s shirt for Saturday’s match has a message emblazoned in gold text in the middle of the shirt, under the collar and between the Nike swoosh and the club’s badge. It reads, “Tito, Por Sempre Etern,” “Tito, Forver Eternal” in Catalan. The club are encouraging to come to the Camp Nou ten minutes earlier than usual, as they will play video highlights and will unfurl a banner celebrating the life of a manager who many feel was gone too soon. As a side, Barcelona will also show anti-racism messages on their digital boards and scoreboards.
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