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why Xavi’s Barça can’t follow up… for now

More and more attractive, FC Barcelona is looking for consistency at the dawn of its Europa League return dam, this Thursday in Naples.

There were 55,000 Valencian fans in Mestalla, but you could almost hear the cries of joy from the 11 Barcelona players after their third goal before half-time. Valence was corrected on its lawn by a FC Barcelona worthy of the name last Sunday (1-4). His coach, Xavi, praised the “bullet exitsand called the goals “fantastic“. “ This victory gives us some peace of mind until Thursday“, he breathed. Thursday, Barça plays a large part of its end of the season. He moves to Naples, a week after a frustrating draw conceded at home (1-1), with the knockout stages of the Europa League in sight. If the positive signals accumulate, Barça is far from having engaged the steamroller mode.

Since his first steps as coach of “his” club on November 6, Xavi has made good progress. There was visible progress in the game in December, against Elche (3-2) or Sevilla (1-1). There was this Spanish Super Cup semi-final, lost in extra time against Real Madrid on January 12 (2-3). “We can be proud, we are on the right path“harangued Xavi. A path strewn with pitfalls. Behind, there was the elimination in the Copa del Rey by Athletic (3-2), then a success at Alavés (0-1). “It was not brilliant, but this victory tells us that we are on the right pathinsisted Xavi. The following ? A great victory against Atlético (4-2), two other painful draws at Espanyol (2-2) and against Naples (1-1). And, therefore, this great performance in Valencia (1-4) this Sunday. “You just have to be more reliable, more consistenthoped Xavi. But why so many irregularities?

SEE ALSO – The superb first goal of Ferran Torres at Barça, against Athletic in the King’s Cup (3-2)

A young and rebuilding Barça

First there is the implacable reality: Barça is a giant in agony. Its slow decline, punctuated by the departure of Lionel Messi last summer, cannot be erased with the snap of a finger. The team is rebuilding and focusing on youth. Out of the 16 teams that played in La Liga last weekend, Barca’s starting XI had the second-lowest average age (25.8 years old). And that didn’t include the two 19-year-old stars, Ansu Fati (injured) and Pedri (sub). Barça’s makeover is going through air holes, individually and collectively. Against Elche, he conceded two goals in two minutes before winning 3-2. “We lacked a professiongrowled the dissatisfied Xavi.

“It’s a fantastic generation. Me, at their age, I was scared. They are wonderful. »

Xavi, FC Barcelona coach on the young people of the club

Sports interference coupled with a change of coach has also led to a redistribution of roles. Defenders Sergino Dest (21) and Ronald Araujo (22) have to put on costumes that may be a little too big for now. Gavi (17) and Pedri are already essential in the midfield. “It’s a fantastic generation, smiled Xavi in ​​December. Me, at their age, I was scared. They are wonderful.Ferran Torres (21), recruited for €55m from Manchester City, focused the criticism after his sixth match against Naples. He is one of those precious mid-season reinforcements who, inevitably, need acclimatization.

This Barça needs a time that its supporters give it reluctantly, and that its leaders refuse to grant it, for lack of an alarming economic situation. This is why Dani Alves (38) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (32) were recruited: to relieve young people and reassure them in the short term. Alves was the decisive passer in his first game for his return, and repeated against Atlético in addition to scoring. As for Aubameyang, he signed a hat-trick against Valencia for his first start in Blaugrana.

An increasingly strong visual impression

If Barça is not consistent, that does not mean that it does not go upmarket. Spiritual son of Pep Guardiola and apostle of positional play, Xavi has laid the first stones of the edifice he wants to build. The construction of actions is taking shape little by little. Triangle jumpsuits are becoming more and more visible. Illustration on the 3rd goal against Valencia: Dest serves as back-to-goal support for Dembélé who finds Gavi in ​​the back of the defense. Alone in the box, the Spaniard crosses for Aubameyang’s goal.

Also symptomatic of the contribution of the relay circles, an essential fact for Xavi. Frenkie de Jong had thrown himself into the area to score the second goal against Valencia, when the fourth came from a long shot from Pedri deflected by Aubameyang. In the derby against Espanyol on February 13, this same Pedri had taken over a cross at the far post from Jordi Alba. “He is a top player, the timing he has to understand the spaces is incredible“, Complimented Xavi about the Golden Boy 2021.

A glaring lack of realism

There is not much missing for this Barça to be feared by all. “The feelings are good“, underlined defender Gerard Piqué after the draw against Naples, who however pointed to the lack of realism: “They approached our box once or twice and they scored a goal, we had a lot of chances and we didn’t manage to put it in the back once.The stats confirm: 21 shots including 5 on target against 4 shots including 4 on target.

Barca’s flaws remain glaring in both surfaces. Defensively, he has not lined up two games without conceding a goal since November. You have to learn to “defend with the ball“, explains Xavi, to have more “calm at the end of the match“. Offensively, Aubameyang is there to address finishing issues. Waiting for Ansu Fati’s return from injury, expected at the end of March. Barça is not a finished product. But chef Xavi’s recipe is mouth-watering.



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