Originally written on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 12/20/12
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Even if Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates had no coach to guide them, you would think long and hard about betting against what is perhaps the greatest collection of players ever assembled by one club. Their success is built on foundations so solid that it has seemingly become self-perpetuating, almost capable of taking care of itself. So Messi and company will weather the absence, hopefully brief and temporary, of Tito Vilanova while he undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Even if the coach's recovery from the recurrence of a tumor on a saliva gland takes longer than expected, his team is plenty strong enough to keep winning without him, to wrest back the Spanish league title from Real Madrid and to muscle past AC Milan in March to advance deep into the final rounds of the Champions League and even win that, too. For such an astoundingly talented and well-blended team to underperform in either of those competitions in 2013 would be shocking, regardless of who is ...
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