5 Things Xavi Must Do In Barcelona To Save The Season
The legend of the "Blaugrana" has unfinished business.
Following Jurgen Klopp, Xavi made his statement, announcing his departure as the head coach of Barcelona at the end of the current season. Media and bookmakers have been speculating about suitable replacements for the Catalan club for several days, trying to guess the club's management decision. However, the team and its coach must focus on the remaining part of the season. There are at least 5 things that Xavi must do to save this campaign.
Select the proper formation
Last season, Xavi predominantly used a 4-4-2 formation, and it was the right choice, making the team more compact. It was a difficult team to break through while maintaining flexibility in attack. It was a well-balanced system, maximizing the use of an imperfect squad. However, that was a year ago, and Barcelona is no longer the same team. Today, they need more confidence and influence from Sergio Busquets in the midfield.
Barcelona has weakened in the midfield, but they have significant creative talent on both flanks. Xavi needs to consider using a single, suitable formation to effectively utilize his team's capabilities. Perhaps a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-3 formation could maximize the attacking potential of the "Blaugrana." There are many questionable decisions in the current system, which looks even more imperfect in the game than on paper. It's time for the coach to make a change.
Stop experimenting in defense
Barcelona's strength last season was their ability to concede few goals. While Robert Lewandowski's goals were necessary, primarily the defense on their own half that led the Catalans to the championship title. Towards the end of the campaign, there was a feeling that the "Blaugrana" was somewhat fortunate. The season when Marc-Andre ter Stegen became the best player in La Liga was a statistical anomaly, and other players occasionally exceeded their capabilities.
The defensive quartet of Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, and Alejandro Balde was the most effective in the league. Strangely, Xavi wanted to field all four in a different formation in the new season. Kounde was swapped with Araujo, and Christensen was in and out of the lineup. Injuries played a role and will continue to do so, as Ter Stegen missed a lot of time, and now Balde is sidelined. However, it's time for the coach to stop experimenting with what worked well last season.
Restore confidence in Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski showed that he could contend for the league's top-scorer title in the first half of last season. The former Bayern Munich player proved he could score a lot in a different league. However, in the second half of the previous campaign, Robert looks like a different player. He appears apathetic, touches the ball less frequently, and feels uncomfortable when he receives it. The Pole has scored 8 goals in La Liga, but more is needed for a player who feels he could double that number at this stage.
However, top strikers retain their qualities over time. It's more likely that Lewandowski is experiencing a temporary decline. He may lack the usual confidence to return to his average level. Even elite forwards sometimes need more faith. A reevaluation of the structure and firm management is required to get him back to where he can be. Xavi must squeeze the maximum out of a player who can still be one of the best in the world.
Find a position for Joao Felix
At 24, Joao Felix has played under the guidance of many coaches at the club level and national team. However, they were still determining his exact position. He has been used as an attacking midfielder, second striker, false nine, and center-forward. Still, he has yet to find a position where he truly excels. Many highlight the versatility of the Portuguese player, but to achieve stability, he needs to find a suitable position. It's challenging to ask Xavi, a coach with tactical limitations, to take on this task. However, it could be the key to the entire team's success.
Barcelona's consistent squad problems could be an advantage in this case. Xavi essentially boils it down to three central midfielders: Frenkie de Jong, Ilkay Gundogan, and Pedri. This leaves enough room to find a role for Felix, whether on the flank or as a number ten. The coach could also use him as a second striker to assist Lewandowski, who often lacked opportunities in the final third. If used correctly, the Portuguese player can significantly contribute to the team's game and influence the outcome.
Trust Vitor Roque
Why did Barcelona sign Vitor Roque, spending 40 million euros on him? After three full weeks in Catalonia, the idea of bringing in the Brazilian remains to be seen. He gets minimal time on the field and tries to make the most of what he has. Many assumed that Roque would become Lewandowski's backup, but he usually shares the field with the Pole. Even when Xavi acts without Robert, he regularly places his newcomer on the flank.
While Roque doesn't look at his best, he's doing his best to find his place in the new environment. Of course, this problem has been introduced previously. Vinicius was considered a failed transfer for Real Madrid for two years until he "exploded." Young Brazilians rarely make a splash immediately upon arriving at a new club. However, Xavi's task is to help the young and, importantly, expensive player find a particular form, ideally playing in the correct positions for results. It's clear that he needs time, but sometimes trust is an even more critical factor.
Published by Patrick Jane