Real Madrid offer support to Barcelona amid expectation Tito Vilanova will stand aside as coach
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is expected to stand aside amid fears over his health.
Earlier today, Barcelona suspended their scheduled media activities for the day amid reports concerning the health of the man who has guided Barcelona to their unbeaten league run this season.
Vilanova, who replaced Pep Guardiola this summer, underwent surgery on a salivary gland last November and reports in Spain, including daily newspaper El Pais, claim the 44-year-old has suffered a relapse.
Barcelona released a statement this morning although did not go into details, promising to make a further announcement later today.
The statement read: "Barcelona announce that it is has suspended the press conference from president Sandro Rosell planned for midday. As well as that, the media Christmas lunch has been cancelled.
"Later today the club will issue a further release. Until that time we will not make any announcement about this matter.
"We regret any inconvenience this decision may cause."
Vilanova was out of action for around three weeks after surgery last year, but returned to the dugout to help Guardiola for the last six months of the 2011-12 campaign.
Despite a lack of confirmation, support for Vilanova has flooded in, including from biggest rivals Real Madrid.
"Real Madrid want to express their support and best wishes for the coach of FC Barcelona, Tito Vilanova, and wish him a very rapid recovery. Real Madrid offer their support to his club and to all his family," astatement on the Madrid website read.
Barca midfielder Xavi said on his official Twitter account: "Very sorry to hear the news."
Tennis star Rafael Nadal tweeted: "All my strength and support to Tito Vilanova! We are with you to overcome this new step."
Real Betis said on their official twitter feed: "@BetisOficial and their professionals offer their total support for the coach of FCBarcelona-es, Tito Vilanova."
Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera was quoted as saying in AS: "I'm stunned. Is it true? Tito has shown himself to be a fighter, overcoming a very serious illness and I hope that it's going to be the same this time. He has all of my support and that of the club."
MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo, meanwhile, tweeted: "#AnimoTito (encouragement for Tito)."
Vilanova was named as Guardiola's successor in April after it was confirmed that the Barca coach was stepping down to take time away from the game.
Despite huge pressure following in the footsteps of Guardiola, who delivered two Champions League titles and three La Ligas, former assistant Vilanova has been hugely impressive. Barcelona are currently nine points clear in La Liga, dropping just two points in 16 games. They have also progressed to the knock-out stages of the Champions League and hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over Cordoba in their Copa del Rey last-16 tie.
Barca's next game is away to Real Valladolid in La Liga on Saturday for what is their final fixture before the winter break.