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Home Forums Sport Life 5 things you missed from Xavi’s first game as Barca manager

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  • #28766

    5 things you missed from Xavi’s first game as Barca manager

    Barcelona beat Espanyol 1-0 at Camp Nou on a difficult night of football in Xavi’s first game as manager.

    The Blaugrana dominated for 70 minutes and held off a late rush from their opponents to secure an important victory. What did you overlook?

    1. The Wing Show

    It’s difficult, to sum up, Barcelona’s positional system in a single word, but wingers are perhaps the best option. Not just wide strikers, but genuine wingers who hug the touchline.

    Barcelona hasn’t used true wingers since Luis Enrique’s second season in charge (2015/16), yet Xavi stretched Espanyol wide open with both of his high and wide passes. In the first half, Gavi and Ilias, then Gavi and Abde in the second. The game was defined by these wingers.

    First and foremost, Gavi was undoubtedly Barcelona’s finest player on the pitch, displaying such confidence and control in possession as well as tenacity outside of it.

    Abde was a continuous source of tension and invention on the opposite wing, and Gavi was the one who created the penalty for Barcelona. Abde’s pace caused a lot of problems for Espanyol, and he was unlucky not to score an own goal.
    Indeed, wingers, or the lack thereof, may be blamed for Barcelona’s poor performance in the final 20 minutes, as Coutinho replaced Gavi and proceeded to roam into bizarre places and give the ball away frequently and wastefully while providing none of the defensive covers that Gavi did. As a result, Espanyol dominated the last minutes of the game and had a chance to win it!

    2. Misspanyol

    At the very least, Espanyol should have gotten a point at the Camp Nou, and they could have possibly won it. Vicente Moreno has his troops defend deep in order to suffocate the Blaugrana for an extended period of time. And, for the most part, they were successful. Then, when their opponents grew tired, Espanyol applied pressure in order to create chances.

    But they squandered every opportunity! Raul de Tomas hit the post twice, the first time with a free header from 10 yards! Landry Dimata’s header from just six yards out was even worse, as he completely missed the target with the goal at his mercy! Coutinho even chested the ball late in the game, almost setting up a late Wu Lei volley, but the striker couldn’t quite connect!

    3. Ter Stegen can save!

    Barca has surrendered with their first shot on target nine times this season. The Blaugrana have had an astonishing problem where the German goalkeeper can’t seem to make the first save of the game, making every time out of possession dangerous as the Blaugrana scramble and often overcompensate to prevent an opponent from shooting.

    For the entire first half, Barca kept Espanyol from getting a shot on target, and they had even grabbed the lead by the time the visitors managed to trouble Ter Stegen with a shot – which he saved! He not only saved the first shot on target, but he also saved the second! Rebuilding Ter Stegen’s confidence gradually will be critical to Barcelona’s success.


    4. Xavi can be ruthless

    Anyone who expected Xavi to come in as a nice, affable guy who struggled to assert himself and make difficult decisions may relax. Not only did Xavi play youth Ilias Akhomach in his first game, but when the youngster failed to impress in the first half, he was replaced at half-time by young Abde Ezzalzouli. It was a bold decision, but it was the right one, as Abde increased the side’s thrust and drive.

    5. Battered and bruised, but undeniably Barcelona

    Now that the Xavi era has officially begun, it is evident that Xavi still has a lot of work ahead of him. “I feel like we struggled,” the Catalan coach remarked after the game, adding, “we truly did struggle.”

    Espanyol mangled the Blaugrana at the finish as exhaustion drastically caught up with them, and he wasn’t incorrect. They appeared practically unable to resist their formidable competitors when the physical exertions of the opening 70 minutes caught up with them.

    Those efforts, on the other hand, are what will give Barcelona fans optimism. “I’m really pleased with the team’s approach,” Xavi stated after the game. For the first 70 minutes, the players’ mentality and positional discipline were outstanding.

    Barcelona’s wingers were wide, their central midfielders were high, and one full-back was always “underlapping” into the half-space to form a back three with the centre-backs, usually Oscar Mingueza, in a move that made it difficult for Espanyol to launch counter-attacks as easily as they had done against Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona. Busquets was well-protected, allowing him to completely dominate the game.

    The team pressed ferociously, running off the ball and exchanging short, quick passes in and around the box. As bad as the last 20 minutes were, the first 70 minutes were as unmistakably Barcelona as the team has looked in years.

    It’s early in the Xavi era, and there’s clearly a lot of work to be done (and injured players to recover from – imagine how different this team would be if Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembélé were in it?) Even after only one week of training, it’s clear that Xavi has brought his flair back to Barcelona. Now all they have to do is hope that it will be enough to beat Benfica on Tuesday.


    Read Also: Xavi places 3 Barcelona players up for sale


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  • Author
    • #28795

      i just need him to be ruthless and he has shown that he can be that to the fullest, so i am satisfied

    • #28804

      Xavi would be our next Gurdiolar, mark my words, the signs are already there to see

    • #28815
      John Adeleke

      with xavi at the helms of affair..great things are sure for the likes of Pedri and co

    • #28821

      what an interesting take on Xavi’s debut…


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