Villa: Barca win was so vital
David Villa was more concerned that Barcelona beat Osasuna on Saturday night than worrying about ending his own barren run in front of goal.
Villa had failed to find the back of the net for Barca in 11 successive matches heading into the Primera Division clash, but the Spain striker got back on the scoresheet to put his side ahead in the 24th minute.
Lionel Messi then added a late second to seal a 2-0 win with his 50th competitive goal of the season for the Catalan giants.
The victory helped Barca bounce back from the disappointment of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final defeat to Real Madrid and ensured they remain eight points clear of Jose Mourinho’s men at the top of the standings with only five games remaining.
Villa said of his goal: "The most important thing is that the team score and win, to forget what happened on Wednesday.
"It’s a very important victory and we’re very happy. They are a very difficult team and more so because of our mental and physical tiredness from the other day.
"We’ve got three points, we keep the same gap and it’s one game less."
It was not the best of performances by a much-changed Barca side as La Liga strugglers Osasuna made it tough for their hosts to get into their stride.
However, the three points keeps Pep Guardiola’s men firmly on course for a third successive league title and will help restore confidence ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Defender Dani Alves said: "Osasuna made it a very uncomfortable and difficult game for us. We couldn’t get any continuity into our play, but we had the fortune in front of goal."
Looking ahead to their European meeting with Madrid – the third of four clashes between the two arch rivals in 18 days – the Brazilian said: "We’re pretty good, we are really looking forward to Wednesday’s game.
"I think it’s going to be a very nice game, very difficult but we need to enjoy it because these are unique matches. We aren’t looking at what Madrid do, we are preparing our own work."
Guardiola could have a major defensive headache going into the semi-final, with Maxwell and Gabriel Milito both finishing the match with knocks.
They should find out on Sunday the extent of their injuries and it could be they will join left-backs Eric Abidal and Adriano on the sidelines.
There also remains a doubt about the fitness of captain Carles Puyol, who sat out the win.
Midfielder Javier Mascherano, who has played in defence recently to help cover the absentees, said on his club’s website: "The important thing is to help the team in whatever position you are.
"The coach decided to make this positional change, I’ve always said that I’ve come here to win. We need to do things in the best way possible."