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.