Forgot Password




Create your Connect ID

This will allow you to login to all DStv websites & applications

Login using

Email Reset


Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Spain

Tito Vilanova © Action Images

Football the best therapy for Vilanova

When Barcelona promoted the little known Tito Vilanova to replace Pep Guardiola, the most successful coach in the club's history, few expected him to be breaking his predecessor's records six months down the line.

A 3-1 victory at Malaga on Sunday completed a Spanish best first half of a La Liga season with 55 of a possible 57 points in the bag, surpassing Guardiola's 52-point record for the same spell two years ago.

Holders Barca are back in action against fifth-placed Malaga at the Nou Camp on Wednesday in a King's Cup quarterfinal first leg, when cancer sufferer Vilanova has the chance to move a step closer towards his first piece of silverware.

Guardiola amassed 14 trophies from a possible 19 before he stepped aside last May, and Vilanova, having lost out to Real Madrid in the season-opening Spanish Super Cup in August, has his eyes on a May 18 Cup final.

Many in the local media have already declared Barca league champions as they hold an 11-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid and an 18-point lead over ailing champions Real, but Vilanova was being prudent on Sunday.

"The league isn't won yet. I am a fan of mathematics," he said after the Malaga game.

"It will get more difficult from now on. Coming up we have the Cup and the Champions League. We aren't invincible. If we ease up, we will lose games."

Vilanova was Guardiola's assistant and remains a close personal friend, but his early success has been all the more impressive considering he was forced to constantly re-jig his defence at the start of the campaign.

A string of injuries to defenders, which included losing first-choice centre backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique for two months apiece, tested his abilities while he appears to have solved the riddle of how to blend Cesc Fabregas into the side.

The former Arsenal captain was overlooked by Guardiola for key games towards the end of last season but has now become a fixture in Barca's slick-passing midfield alongside Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.

Guardiola had a special relationship with World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who was too distraught to even attend his former boss' farewell news conference, but the change in coach has not disrupted the Argentine's incredible goal-scoring rhythm.


The only negative for Vilanova so far has been the need for him to have a second round of throat surgery, after having had a tumour removed from his saliva glands in November 2011.

The 44-year-old is still combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment with his work after last month's second operation but is keen to play down his illness.

"I am well and able to work," he said. "But in my case, I love football. To be with the players, to kick a ball and to train, there is no better therapy.

"I want to be the protagonist for my work, not for my illness."

Malaga, who have also reached the Champions League last 16, gave a good account of themselves at the Rosaleda on Sunday despite the scoreline and remain dangerous opponents.

"I don't think this game sets a benchmark for the Cup encounters," Vilanova said. "We will probably use different players and so will they. Each duel is unique."

The victors will go on to meet either 2011 winners Real or Valencia who, with a La Liga fixture at the Mestalla next weekend included, will play each other three times in the next week and a half.

Jose Mourinho's faltering side host the last eight first leg on Tuesday after a run of only two wins from six games in all competitions, but will have leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo back from suspension.

An improving Valencia, under new coach Ernesto Valverde, have won seven of their last eight games in all competitions.

On the other side of the draw, there is an eye-catching clash between Atletico and Real Betis at the Calderon on Thursday.

The last quarterfinal sees 2010 winners Sevilla visit Real Zaragoza on Wednesday. The second legs are next week.


Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
Xbox 360
Mitre Ultimatch Soccer Ball - White
A high quality football, offering high performance at both training and during football matches.


More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Live Video Streaming

UEFA Champions League Blitz H\L - Play-Off 2nd Leg: Celtic v Maribor
Thu, 28 Aug @ 05:00
Thu, 28 Aug @ 15:30
Thu, 28 Aug @ 16:00

Sports Talk

Sunday Oliseh
Man U need more than an 'Angel'
Just two games into the English Premier League and Manchester United are five points (synonymous to...

Arjun Vidyarthi
Good signs for the Reds despite loss
A brace from Stevan Jovetic and a Sergio Aguero stunner ensured that Manchester City took all three...

Calvin Emeka Onwuka
Confidence vital for Man United
A lot has been said about what Louis van Gaal has to do to get Manchester United back to the level...

John Dykes
Why always drama?
We’ve already got Crystal Palace in apparent full-scale crisis while Paul Scholes is warning...

Neil Tovey
Bossing the big time
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals" - Charles Darwin

Segun Odegbami
The Falcons - fulfilling Pele’s prophecy?
Did you watch the finals of the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup last Sunday night?