Any person who would not be blind could have imagined that this would not be a great season for Barça. Change of president, juggling to sign and a horrible economic inherited from the previous board of directors have mostly been the obstacles that the club has dragged throughout this campaign. If we also add to all of his the departure of Messi and of other outstanding players like Griezmann, the cocktail could be lethal.
In search of a new hope:
The excitement at the beginning of the season was entirely put on the young talent. Ansu Fati was the one to inherit the ’10’, as they hope to find on him the new Messi. Pedri, even though he started the course injured, had just been the best young player from the EURO Cup and other players from the academy such as Gavi, Nico or Abde had just started to find opportunities with the first team.
Even so, the image on the field was proper of a team that was unable to solve the games forward and too soft backwards. Koeman said his famous quote “it is what it is” and Barça complicated themselves both in LaLiga and the Champions League group stage. Still today I am not sure if the Dutch coach was right and the team certainly couldn’t offer more.
The return of Xavi:
The board of directors made the decision to hire Xavi back in November. This way, the ex-player returned home with a very difficult task to carry out. They strengthened themselves in the winter transfer market by signing Ferran Torres, Adam Traoré, Dani Alves and Aubameyang, which turned into an immediate improvement of the team.
I do not doubt at all that Xavi is an esthete of football, in fact he grew in the school of Cruyff and as a player he had the best possible teacher in the bench. However, he does not necessarily stick to the style at all times and he is able to provide solutions to the issues that the rivals present during the game. His ball dominance is not based on everlasting possessions, but instead on fast recoveries and good game reading.
The end of the season has not been too tasty due to the knock out in the Europa League, but at least they have managed to finish 2nd in the table. Fail in Europe, fail in the Spanish Cup, passed and thanks in LaLiga. If this is the worst season at Barça, it certainly does not look too bad.
The margin of improvement is wide and Xavi joined without any experience in the elite, but they still do not look ready to each a more constant and resolutive Real Madrid.
The making of the roster will be a key aspect towards the next season. Barcelona see themselves limited to take advantage out of the big deals in the market just as to force the sell from some of their players. The rumors are already around with the future of Frankie de Jong and the renewals of Gavi and Dembélé still to be determined.
There is a lot of work to be done if they want to aim for higher goals next year.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Twitter @FCBarcelona_es.