Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, Cancer, and when a friendly is just a friendly

Angel Martinez

With news coming out on Friday that Tito Vilanova's cancer has returned, we're once again reminded that this wonderful game of ours is just a game.

When it was announced back in January that Bayern Munich had secured Barcelona as the opponent for this summer's Uli Hoeneß Cup, the excitement was there. Facing a high quality opponent like Barça just before the start of the season would be a great test for Bayern. The months following the announcement of the match have only increased the drama heading into Wednesday. Those events are easy to track.

The first occurred when Pep Guardiola ended his sabbatical away from the game after less than a year and announced that he would become the new Bayern Munich manager in the summer. However, what followed was far worse. As everyone surely remembers, Bayern would absolutely destroy Barça in the Champions League semifinal to the score of 7-0. Rumors of the "death" of Barça's tiki-taka style were of course greatly exaggerated, but it was clear that Bayern were the new Kings of Europe.

This summer has added to the grief with Bayern signing Thiago Alcantara, and a war of words between Guardiola and various figures at Barça. The storylines were writing themselves. However, the awful news was announced at the end of last week that Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova's cancer had returned, and he would once again step away from the bench.

The awful news about Vilanova has obviously taken a bit of the edge out of the friendly and let's us realize that sports are just... sports. With the Uli Hoeneß Cup being a charity match, let us celebrate the fact that these two great clubs are coming together for such a great cause. For Vilanova, our thoughts go out to him with the hopes that he makes a full recovery.

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