Sports news all over Spain has been singing Barcelona’s praises the morning after March’s El Clasico. Barca is officially back, and this is not just about Gerard Pique’s post from the night of the match. Ever since Xavi Hernandez took over as Barcelona’s manager from Ronald Koeman in November 2021, there have been signs of progress on the field for the Catalan-based club. Consequently, the team is now playing fast-paced and beautiful football, earning the much-needed victories that were hard to come by at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 4-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, claiming their first victory over the LaLiga leaders since 2019. Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (two), Ronald Araujo, and Ferran Torres secured the win for Barcelona.
Xavi Has a Lot of Work Ahead
It has been over four months since Xavi took over as Barcelona’s manager. In that time, the team has moved from ninth to the top four in LaLiga. However, merely evaluating that development in statistics understates the significance of Xavi’s contributions.
He took control of a squad that had lost their way and transformed it into the confident team the world saw at the Bernabeu. He does not preach traditional Barca values such as possession, creativity, and the value of the collective over individuals – many others have done it before – but rather, he lives by these values while being able to make the necessary adjustments for today’s game.
For example, playing a pure defender at right-back to limit the quick Vinicius Junior rather than making the emotional decision to bring Dani Alves into the game. Alternatively, using wingers like Fernando Torres and Ousmane Dembele, who have fundamentally different approaches to the game and the position, is a significant achievement.
Alternatively, regaining the confidence of a center-forward like Aubameyang, who had been banned or unproductive since the summer at his former club, Arsenal. This transformed him into a highly effective offensive threat is another achievement.
Barcelona had lost their past five Clasicos, four in La Liga, and the Supercopa de Espana match in January 2022, their worst run since the 1960s. However, the loss in Saudi Arabia was not a horrible experience, and it provided some encouragement to the squad’s supporters that the team is progressing under Xavi’s guidance.
The astonishing thing about Xavi’s turnaround at Camp Nou is how swiftly he has accomplished it. His arrival saw the team down to the ninth position in La Liga before his first game. With 54 points after 28 games, Barca ended up sitting in third place in the standings after the Clasico, one point behind Sevilla, who sat in second place with 57 points after 29 games.
Catalans On Top
Recently, the Catalans have won all of their games, including victories against Atletico Madrid and Valencia, and wins over Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna, and Napoli, scoring four goals in each of those two games. However, this 4-0 victory against arch-rival Real Madrid confirms that Barcelona’s current run of form is not a fluke and that supporters can once again have faith in this squad.
With this victory, Xavi became the first Barcelona coach since Helenio Herrera in 1959 to win his first Clasico in La Liga by a margin of more than four goals. Even though his team was comfortably in control of the game, Xavi roared from the sidelines, demanding perfection. Since Pep Guardiola’s departure, there hasn’t been much of this kind of intensity in the Camp Nou dugout.
Aubameyang has scored a staggering nine goals and provided one assist in his first 11 games this season. Torres has started in eight games for Barcelona, scoring four goals and providing three assists in those appearances. Traore has also contributed with two assists even though he has been a rotation option for Xavi, having started in three of his seven matches.