Barcelona’s future looked in grave danger when Ronald Koeman was sacked in October with the club struggling for any kind of form and sitting six points behind the league leaders, Real Madrid in ninth place. Their Champions League qualification scenario also seemed difficult with poor initial results in the group stage. Barcelona legend, Xavi succeeded the Dutchman amidst many doubts regarding his experience in top level management but the Spaniard has defied most of the expectations and here Barcelona are sitting in 2nd place in La Liga and have already qualified for next season’s Champions League. Barcelona fans have been treated to some spectacular football and some entertaining results along the way, none of them being sweeter than the 4-0 El Clasico win in March. Let’s now have a look as to reasons behind Barcelona’s resurgence under Xavi.
Barcelona have struggled tremendously in recent seasons when it has come to transfers. Failed signings like that of Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembele have cost the club huge sums and not necessarily quite produced the returns the club would have expected. It became crucial for the club to have a successful winter transfer window to lead the way for change in the Blaugrana’s fortunes. Being such a legendary figure, Xavi had an important part to play in the January signings, particularly that of Ferran Torres who has gone on to be a revelation for the Catalans. Other incomings of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer and Adama Traore on loan have added a new dimension for Xavi’s team.
Apart from the arrivals, the rediscovered form of the old players too has played a big part in the club’s success in the second half of the season. During the last months of Ronald Koeman’s time in charge, owing to the lack of motivation in the dressing room and many other factors several world-class players found themselves struggling for form. Players like Frenkie De Jong, Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, Ronald Araujo who are otherwise game-changers couldn’t impact the game as they would have liked. All this changed under Xavi. Dembele has become a phenomenon on the wings and is second on the most assist charts. Araujo has evolved his game as a ball-playing defender while De Jong and Pedri have regularly dominated the midfield once again.
Along with this the veteran players too have stepped up in the recent times for Barcelona. Pique, Busquets and Jordi Alba have been at the club for several years and have seen the ups and downs at the club. These senior players along with the returning Dani Alves have assisted Xavi in regaining the rhythm that the club has been lacking for so long. Improving their own performances and also guiding the young players have just gone to highlight the loyalty and attachments these legends have with Barcelona.
Strategies and planning are all important to pave the way for comeback in a club’s fortunes but also at the same time it is essential to ensure that there is a feeling of positive energy within the club. The players shouldn’t feel the pressure too much and rather should go on and enjoy themselves. Xavi, following in the footsteps of legendary Barcelona managers, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola has reinstated the values of the club to restore its identity. One of the first things Xavi did after being appointed as the manager was meet several players personally and restore their confidence. It has been seen many times that the manager waits for his players and greets them after every match, thus improving their relations. While all of it may seem small, the results have been very much evident.