Barcelona: The tide is turning against Xavi with the club on the brink of Champions League exit
PETE JENSON: Xavi won’t be sacked yet but Barcelona fears he was ‘not ready’ are growing with the club on the brink of ANOTHER Champions League exit… the tide is turning against the young manager – who always looks raw
- Barcelona could soon play in the Europa League after drawing with Inter
- The Catalan side top La Liga but struggle in the Champions League
- Boss Xavi could find himself under pressure and has shown he is still raw
- He won’t be sacked but questions are being asked after fears he’s ‘not ready’
Barcelona won’t fire Xavi for failing to reach the Champions League round of 16 but we may just be another bad result away from president Joan Laporta reminding everyone why he initially had reservations about the young coach.
Laporta said he was reluctant to sack Ronald Koeman because Xavi was ‘not ready’ – on Wednesday night he looked ill-prepared for the challenge of seeing Inter and only his status at the club saved him Thursday morning of the local media genre. mutilation that would have been encountered by Koeman.
“We had talked about it,” Xavi said several times in his post-match press conference. When asked if he should take some of the responsibility, he added: “Of course. If the defenders are wrong, it’s on me. It was barely taking responsibility.
The tide could turn against Xavi at Barcelona with the club set to exit the Champions League group stages
The Spanish giants drew 3-3 with Inter Milan – leaving their hopes of reaching the knockout stages in tatters
The way he pointed the finger at his defenders will not have pleased Gerard Pique in particular. In the long run, it won’t matter.
It might even have been Pique’s last Champions League game for Barcelona, but there was an unwillingness to take responsibility and a willingness to blame players who resonated, negatively, with the rest of the team.
Xavi can say he wanted Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back and Bernardo Silva added to his midfield. The latter was still beyond the club’s budget but the former should have been a priority and could have made the difference on Wednesday night.
There was also some bad luck with injuries. Of all the players, Xavi didn’t want to lose Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo topped the list. They are the only centre-backs with the pace to play the high line that Xavi wants to play. The team was sorely exposed without them.
Xavi is still raw as a manager – and club fears he was ‘not ready’ for the role are growing
Barcelona sit third in their Champions League group – and if Inter beat useless Viktoria Plzen in their next match, they’ll be knocked out before they even play Bayern Munich.
Xavi has been a big part of what the club have been able to do this summer. So he has to answer the question: why didn’t it occur to them that their aging midfielder Sergio Busquets didn’t have a replacement? They signed a third back and a third winger and left Busquets as the only defensive midfield option.
With Busquets struggling to cover the fast counters and without the quickest defenders in the team, Xavi should have had more flexibility, but he’s married to his high defensive line and he’s stuck to that plan even when he was suicidal against a team with Denzel Dumfries and company. marauding in open spaces.
He inherited a difficult situation with the veterans, it’s true. While Real Madrid are squeezing out their best players before they become a shadow of their former selves – Casemiro and Ronaldo were sold for around €170m (£148m) – Barcelona are still trying to persuade Jordi Alba and Pique to leave at the end of the season so the club don’t need to pay them until 2024.
But the signings were made in the summer so Xavi wouldn’t have to face the two defenders.
President Joan Laporta had reservations about hiring Xavi, but has no plans to fire him yet
Barcelona have been unlucky with injuries this season and still lack quality in midfield
He said after the draw that the team had been cursed since the Bayern Munich game and that it is true that they could have scored three goals in the first half in Germany and they were beaten badly against Inter in Milan when Dumfries’ handball was ignored. The band was also a lot tougher than he wanted. These excuses are valid, but they will count for little as the pressure mounts.
Xavi is clearly still raw. Some of the mistakes made against Inter in the first game were repeated in the second. Marcos Alonso was ineffectual in the first leg against but he was still first choice ahead of Alex Balde in the second leg.
Questions will also be posed to Xavi’s coaching staff. While Real Madrid look better conditioned than ever, Barcelona are struggling physically and Ansu Fati has failed to bring Ansu Fati back to his peak – it may or may not be the club’s fault.
The team are struggling physically under Xavi, with their rivals looking better conditioned
Xavi was brought in to bring Barcelona back in the latter stages of a competition they haven’t won since he was on the pitch as a player. As it stands, they could be back in the Europa League before they kick off their next Champions League game against Bayern Munich in a fortnight.
If Inter won the previous match against Viktoria Plzen, Barca’s game against Robert Lewandowski’s former club in front of 90,000 spectators at Camp Nou becomes something of a non-event.
Will there be 90,000 in the stadium with that prospect a real possibility? The atmosphere around the club will be decisive in the coming weeks.
Winning this Sunday’s Clasico to stay top of La Liga will ensure the season isn’t called off before the World Cup break – losing at the Santiago Bernabeu and the gloom around the decision to hand Xavi the construction of a new Barca will really go down.