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Tito: Only Way Is Up

Barcelona boss, Tito Vilanova, does not ascribe to the consensus that Spanish football is dead, and that Barcelona’s ‘era’ is over.

After the Blaugrana were comprehensively outplayed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals, their obituary was written by football pundits across the globe.

But if anything, with their frailties so clearly exposed, Barca know exactly what they need to work on and improve for next season.

Vilanova admits things have not gone according to plan for Barca this season, with injuries to a host of key players, as well as his own battle with illness.

But he is adamant that the only way is up for the Spanish champions elect.

"One must improve and be self-critical,” Vilanova said after Barca’s Lionel Messi-inspired 4-2 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

“It's been a tough year for injuries. The coach has not been around for over two months and it's not been easy."

Meanwhile, Messi’s team-mates continue to be stuck between acknowledging the little superstar's centrality to their efforts, yet insisting that Barca are more than the sum of their parts.

After his introduction in the second half last night, Messi left the fray with his 60th goal for Barca in the 2012-13 season, and his 186th net buster in his last three seasons for the club. That’s 62 goals per season.

"There is a dependency on Messi because he's a fundamental player, but the whole team is also important. Having him with us is always a positive thing," Andres Iniesta said of La Pulga Atomica.

"We know that he's the best player in the world, and we hope he continues to be for many years to come. He knows to be at the right place at the right time," Gerard Pique added.

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