Barça are still in no man’s land under Xavi. The team has lost two out of their last four matches. However, it is not the losses that worry the culers, but how bad FC Barcelona have looked in said matches along with the little self-criticism shown by their manager.
To be fair, over the last few weeks, the performance of their roster has been negatively affected as a result of the large number of injuries they have suffered: Pedri, Raphinha, Koundé, Lewandowski, De Jong and Balde. The return of most of them has failed to make the situation any better, in fact, it has made it worse. The team has fallen apart on defense and, up front, their creativity has entirely vanished.
What is unquestionable is that defensive solidity was the main reason why Barça won the league so comfortably last season, but there has been no sign of said virtue this season.
Without going too far back in time, last Sunday against Alavés, Xavi switched the defensive line around in three occasions, confusing everyone on the pitch (himself included). But above all, João Cancelo, who had to play three different positions. In the first 45 minutes, a lack of precision from Samu Omorodion prevented the ‘blaugranas’ from going into halftime while down 0-3.
The team repeated the same mistakes they had made in the defeat against Shakhtar, the match against Real Sociedad or the disastrous second half against Real Madrid. Luckily, they managed to scrape the three points as a result of the lack of effectiveness shown by Alavés, as happened at Anoeta.
A broken-down version of Barça without a clear game plan, who left a lot of space between the lines, with many players in unnatural positions, with a clear lack of coordination when pressing and a very slow and poor inside game. In short, a team that does not have a defined style and whose biggest strength (their defense) is starting to show signs of fragility.
Far from accepting his team’s poor play, Xavi Hernández always has an excuse. The grass, matches being played when it is sunny, the referees, the wind, and now, the media. Yes, last Sunday, Xavi blamed the journalists for the team’s poor performances. What will be next?
The statistical truth for Xavi is that, ever since he took over the manager role at Can Barça back in the eighth of November of 2021, he has won a league and a Spanish Supercup while the goal in Europe is to try to survive the group stage of the Champions League. Xavi has only won seven out of his 20 European competitions matches as a manager. He has only managed to beat Viktoria Pilsen, Napoli, Antwerp and Galatasaray, as well as Porto and Shakhtar by the narrowest of margins.
To put it shortly, with Barça’s unconvincing play, the reappearance of the European ghosts, the fact that the roster has improved a lot with the new signings, the sound of whistles starting to be heard at Montjuic and Xavi running out of excuses, how much more credit should be given to the manager? When shold he start to be questioned? How far does the patience of the culers go?
The quality and depth of Barça’s roster goes a lot further than the mediocrity of their play. With the facts layed on the table, there is only one posible culprit: a manager that has not been able to put the pieces together so far.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: @FCBarcelona_es.