FC Barcelona: Doctor Xavi attends on the couch | sports


Xavi Hernández on the bench during Barcelona's game against Espanyol.
Xavi Hernández on the bench during Barcelona’s game against Espanyol.AFP7 via Europa Press (Europa Press)

Two weeks of festivities at Barça, presided over by the presentations of Xavi and Alves, served to extract the fans from their prostration. There is so much to recover, and so little time to achieve it, that the rise in social temperature can be considered a success. About 80,000 people came to the Camp Nou in Xavi’s first match as coach. Barça won and offered some optimistic point, but came out alive by chance. Xavi will grow gray hair on his adventure.

Some indicators pointed to improvements in Barça, which comes from a multitude of football, physical and mental flaws. They have not disappeared, nor will they evaporate, by magic. Xavi is expected to put order in the house and extend to his players the degree of knowledge that elevated him as a player. It is not just any challenge, but at least it is part of his professional background. He knows Barça inside out, he has won titles in bulk and has seen everything in football. But he will have to do it in a team with a very low self-esteem.

Xavi will inaugurate that part of his work without previous experience. Barça is convalescing from a fearsome illness in football, the poor perception it has of its potential. You feel small, vulnerable and helpless of financial resources. “This is what there is” will be the hose that will remain from this turbulent period. It has been said as an excuse in a team that has five almost fixed internationals in the Spanish team —Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Jordi Alba and Eric García—, a next starter with Luis Enrique —Ansu Fati—, two figures in the Dutch team —Frenkie de Jong and Memphis— and a porterazo like Ter Stegen. It is not an imperial Barça, nor one of average hair.

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Before the 4-3-3 and the tactical solutions he finds, Xavi needs to refloat the mood of some players who also pay for their difficulties on the physical plane. Busquets, Gavi, Nico González and Mingueza left the match against Espanyol shattered. There is talk of shortcomings in preparation, although it should not be forgotten the weight of the mental factor in the physical deficit of footballers.

Xavi needs a gigantic couch to recover several players who seem like shadows of what they once were. Coutinho is a glaring case. Frenkie de Jong, too. Eric Garcia is not confident yet. We assume the tactical Xavi. It is necessary to know their ability to lift the emotional and competitive tension of the team.

In a game that brought him to the brink of collapse, Barça offered some interesting news. In the first half it was a concrete team. The players knew how to play and what to play. It lasted as long as Busquets’ legs endured. The most minimalist De Jong that has been seen so far played to touch and reach the area. It is clear that he received instructions. Less dispersion and more concretion. So far he lacks a goal: five in 77 games. It is evident, in any case, that he is not the footballer that Barcelona imagined when he directed the dynamic Ajax.

High pressure, incessant, many passes, patience and thick possession … all that was observed in the first half, without excesses and without extremes. The very young Ilias was beaten by the game and Gavi is an interior of a book. There was no more and Xavi pulled what he could. There he will meet a gigantic obstacle: managing a team with a poorly built staff. He didn’t design it himself, but he’ll have to work wonders to fit the pieces of a diabolical puzzle together. And achieve it soon. Benfica arrives and the room for maneuver is minimal. Win or jump out of the Champions League.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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