Xavi Hernandez has dedicated Barcelona’s 3-2 La Liga win over Villarreal on Sunday night to departed former coach Tito Vilanova.
Barca’s players and fans have been in mourning since it was announced on Friday that Vilanova, 45, had passed away after a long battle with cancer, with the squad and over 50,000 fans having paid tribute at the Camp Nou over the weekend.
The Blaugrana side then found themselves 2-0 down an hour into the game at El Madrigal, but showed a lot of character to pull back level and then take the points thanks to Lionel Messi’s late winner.
Speaking in the mixed zone afterwards to El Larguero Xavi said it had been very difficult for the players to focus on football.
"We wanted to offer a tribute with the win, and to play a good game of football," the club captain said. "I believe the team gave everything until the end, knowing that we are playing for a lot, and also to dedicate it to [Vilanova] and to his family.
"This was one of the most difficult days to play. The body was a bit, well, bad in the sense that this is a very sad news for everyone, knowing the importance Tito had for us. We have lost a reference for 'Barcelonismo.' He has left a huge mark, and he is an example for all of us in life."
Andres Iniesta echoed those thoughts when he spoke with Mundo Deportivo after the game.
"A thing like this always affects you a lot," Iniesta said. "[Vilanova] was a person who lived with us for a long time. We have known him forever.
"I will stick to his example as a person, what he showed when he was with us and was sick, and until the end. He was an example for many people, above all for those who want to achieve things."
Iniesta said the result kept Barcelona in the hunt for the title race, even though Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 win at Valencia means Diego Simeone’s side cannot be caught if they win two of their last three games.
"We were in control and we were creating chances, but their goal just before the break hurt us and their second one did as well," he said. "But we fought until the end, that’s what we had to do and we finally managed to get into the lead.
"We have hope that we can win the league, but we are not just depending on ourselves. If the other teams do not drop points the only thing we can do is congratulate the champions."