There must be something in the air at the Barcelona training ground or stadium, because the speed of recovery of the players and staff is remarkable. The latest little miracle has been performed by the manager Tito Vilanova. The 44-year old had surgery for his Parotid gland cancer less than a month ago, but he will be sitting in the dugout today as Barcelona fave city rivals Espanyol at the Nou Camp.
Vilanova has already been back at the training ground talking to the players and going through some sessions, although his assistant, Jordi Roura, has been dealing with the media. Vilanova does not want to overshadow the players and detract from the fact that this is a football match that Barca want to win.
The home crowd are unlikely to let his return go so easily, however, and there will be an unbelievable reception for him. Vilanova is still having treatment, however, and has not resumed all his duties yet but the operation and treatment are said to have gone exceptionally well.
The players and coaches know that the local derby and the return from the winter break could prove difficult. Barca would probably have preferred to carry on through Christmas because we had been playing so well. Now we must pick up the rhythm again, and Espanyol will do everything they can to disrupt that.