After a season that finished with some hope, Xavi Hernández faces off his second season at Barça and the first one since the beginning. The football project from this summer has been based on the famous financial adjustments, which have allowed the club to make outstanding signings with more freedom than in the previous transfer market.
Market opportunities like Christensen and Kessié and the signings of Lewandowski (50 million), Raphinha (58 million) and Koundé (50 million) add immediate quality performing to the team, as most of them have already become starters since their arrival. Competitive, that is the word that defines the squad of Barça. Coming from probably the worst possible season in a long time, being competitive is a great progress.
In search of the winning routine:
Xavi already knows his players and his players know him. High pace, constant pressing after lost, a lot of presence from the interiors offensively and opened wings in order to create spaces inside. These are some of the features from Xavi’s football style, more vertical than many could even imagine.
They had a tough start into the league against Rayo Vallecano, as they opted for falling back and Barça were unable to overcome their defensive wall. Xavi sticked by his initial plan and Iraola won the battle. Scoreless draw to begin the season.
The lack of goal and the possible doubts were all faded away in the first minute of the next game against Real Sociedad. Lewandowski scored in the 1st minute and Isak answered back right away in the 5th. The equality stayed for the most part of the game, as both teams wanted to dominate the ball.
Pedri was a key, as he offered himself to receive the ball constantly and allowed his team to make progress on the field. The young player keeps earning confidence on his game. He makes passes through lines, progresses at driving the ball and even gets the ball to create the play since the beginning of the action. All these characteristics are just some of the many he is still perfecting. He is becoming the main character more and more often.
The goal of Dembélé took place in the 66th minute thanks to an assist by Ansu Fati. Once they took the lead, the rest of the goals from Lewandowski and Ansu kept coming one after another. Ansu Fati finished the game with one goal and two assists. A 1-4 win in a complicated game against a team that approached complicated situations.
Lewandowski, a difference maker:
Four goals in the first three games. That is the way he has introduced himself to the crowd of Barça. At the age of 34, the Polish striker has not lost his scoring ability and, furthermore, he adds way more than goals to the game of the team. Lewandowski makes the difference inside the box both at frustrating defenders or offering alternatives to his teammates.
He opened up the scoreboard once again against Valladolid (4-0) by sending in a cross to the second post by Raphinha. Everything previously described from Pedri must be added to the fact that he also scored the second goal from an assists by Dembélé. Xavi’s team maintained the pace and Lewandowski scored with his backheel. Sergi Roberto sealed the win in the 92nd minute.
Koundé’s debut in the right back position did not go unnoticed either, as he is better than Araujo at game vision and making offensive runs. However, the last minute addition of Héctor Bellerín to Barça should return both central defenders to their natural position.
There are multiple pieces that are already fitting in this Barça, as they must start their way as fast as possible if they want to compete against Real Madrid. For now, their first steps are going towards regularity.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @FCBarcelona_es.