Fc Barcelona's fragile hold over the top of La Liga was finally, yet somehow inevitably, brought to an end at the Camp Nou last night. Sobis' 89th minute equaliser for Betis saw Barcelona surrender their role in the driving seat and the race for the title is now no longer in their hands. Its now up to Real Madrid, who lead Barcelona thanks to a superior head-to-head, which side of the eternal divide will be celebrating in a months time.
Seemingly all but those who actually have the power to influence matters within Barcelona could see it coming and for the fans who have been watching nervously through their fingers it was all too much. The Laporta regime received its first 'Panyolada' as the home crowd showed their displeasure by waving their handkerchiefs at the forlorn looking President.
With four games to go until the end of the season there may yet still be another twist to what is turning out to be a fascinating climax to the end of the Spanish league championship. The irony is that as Barcelona surrendered their lead at the top over the last few weeks, it was Real Madrid who increasingly gained momentum and closed the gap on their rivals. For all those watching it was becoming clear that Fc Barcelona were repeating the mistakes of the Galactico experiment a few years earlier.
Last night's result was all the more difficult for the Barcelona fans to endure because it came at the end of what was arguably Barcelona's best display for quite some time. Samuel Eto'o looked like the menacing presence in attack that terrorised European defences over the last two seasons whilst Xavi , Iniesta and Deco orchestrated the midfield sublimely. Perhaps, on another night, Barcelona might have ran out 5-0 winners, such was their dominance and creativity.
However, the late equaliser from Sobis that followed some shambolic defending brought about by a quickly taken free kick, seemed to be as much a product of the impending sense of doom that engulfs the Catalan club as it was a consequence of Barcelona failing to convert their numerous chances into a comfortable lead. It seems all but the Barcelona players believe that the title is headed to Madrid, and even they hardly sound convincing.
Jorge Valdano once said that a football team is essentially a state of mind. He also said that results depend upon that state of mind, not what players you have or what opponents you face.
If it is a state of mind that is going to decide the title, then the Ramblas is going to be a very quite place next month.