Barcelona's Resurgence Under Xavi

Ismail Ansar

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Barcelona's Resurgence Under Xavi

On Wednesday 8th December last year, Barcelona had just been comprehensively beaten by German giants Bayern Munich 3-0 in the group stages of the Champions League.

The defeat was Barcelona’s third of the group stages, and as a result, the 26-time champions of Spain and 5-times champions of Europe suddenly found themselves consigned to playing in Europe’s second-tier competition, the Europa League. It was a shocking moment and yet another thing to add to the list of embarrassing things to happen to the club over recent years.

But since that night in the Allianz Arena, something seems to have changed in this Barcelona side. They have played 22 games in all competitions, picking up a stunning 13 wins and have lost just twice, scoring 48 goals in the process. And the reason for this upturn in form? Well, many point to manager Xavi, the legendary midfielder who spent 17 years as a player at the club. Here, we take a look at what he has done this season and what the future looks like for the Blaugrana under his stewardship.

How Xavi has Adapted Koeman’s Squad

In Ronald Koeman’s 13 games before he was sacked following a 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona mustered just 16 goals in those 13 matches. So, the problem was that Koeman was not getting the best out of his forwards, a problem that admittedly had been exacerbated by the departure of Lionel Messi. But under Koeman, there were still talented forwards at the club.

The likes of Memphis Depay and Ousmane Dembele are pacey forwards who are capable of creating goalscoring opportunities and scoring as well, but this wasn’t happening under Koeman. Under Xavi, Barcelona’s front line is firing again.

With the purchases of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres from the Premier League in January, Xavi has seen the two score at an impressive rate. Aubameyang has 10 goals and one assist in 13 appearances, with two of those goals helping Barcelona to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and another two in a 4-0 El Clasico demolition of Real Madrid.

Ferran Torres has scored six and assisted a teammate five times in his 16 appearances for the Catalan club since he joined, including a crucial equaliser in Thursday’s Europa League clash with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Dembele has also been in fine form under Xavi, helping himself to five assists since the beginning of March. So, Xavi has got his attackers firing again, and that is one reason why Barcelona have improved under the Spaniard.

Xavi was well-known for playing in a Barcelona side that was dominant on the ball and popularised the tiki-taka style of football. And he has used this to help coach the midfielders at the club, with the emergence of Gavi and the consistent top-quality performances by Pedri and Frenkie De Jong all because of Xavi.

The Barcelona midfield looks solid and secure now and has players in it who are capable of releasing the ball quickly, can create pockets of space that can be exploited and can create goalscoring opportunities. And so, with their attackers on fire and a constant supply from the midfield, Barcelona can really go at teams from now on and begin to control games.

Europa League Winners Odds

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BARCELONA TO WIN THE 2021/22 EUROPA LEAGUE @ 5/4

Barcelona Fans can Dream of Competing for the Biggest Trophies Once Again

With this upturn in form, there have been murmurings of a very, very late title charge from Barcelona. They may currently be 12 points behind leaders and rivals Real Madrid, but the Blaugrana do have a game in hand. Real Madrid do still have to face Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, who make up the rest of La Liga’s top four. They also host current fifth-place side Real Betis on the final day.

Ultimately, these matches won’t be easy for Los Blancos to navigate, and this may give Barcelona some confidence that they could potentially still win the title this season. With Barcelona’s hardest games left including Real Betis and the impressive Villarreal, they can take confidence in the fact that their run-in is easier than that of Madrid.

Ultimately, the 12-point gap may prove to be too much for Barcelona to catch up with, as may the impressive goalscoring form of Madrid’s Karim Benzema, but the fact that Barcelona can even think of the title after the way their season started is a testament to how much they have improved under Xavi. And with the club reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League and very likely to make it to the final, there is still potential for the Blaugrana to lift some silverware this season.

And with the season coming to an end soon, transfer talk will soon begin to hot up. Barcelona were busy in the January window with four additions, and they are likely to be busy again in the summer as Xavi reconstructs his squad.

What Type of Players Will Barca Look to Sign in the Future?

The profile of players the clubs seems to be going for is a mixture of experience and reliability, with the signing of club legend Dani Alves, who has now made 400 appearances for Barcelona, indicative of this. Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made 160 appearances for Arsenal and is Premier-League proven with 92 goals. La Masia graduate Adama Traore also joined on loan and his pace, strength and his experience via 160 appearances for three different clubs in England will be of value.

Ferran Torres is only 22-years-old but had impressed at Manchester City and is now impressing at Barcelona, where he has 12 goal involvements in just 16 appearances. So far, all of the new recruits have impressed, but can Xavi repeat the trick in the summer if more signings are made?

Ultimately, the future looks bright and promising for Barcelona. After many years of embarrassments in the Champions League and the squad seemingly getting worse every year, Barcelona fans can now look to next season with impatient joy. They have the chance to win a trophy this season and qualification for the Champions League is almost certainly guaranteed for next season as well.

The club seem to have a plan to deal with the mammoth debts that they have incurred, and with the emergence of exciting youth players such as Gavi and Pedri from the famed La Masia, it really does seem like Barcelona will be back to their best very soon.


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