The Catalans recently eased past league leaders Real Madrid in the El Clasico.
Barcelona struggling under Ronald Koeman and being a shadow of themselves is a far distant memory at the moment. The Catalans are looking like their old selves again in recent months. The results against Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Napoli examples of that. Much of it is credited to the appointment of Xavi as their new manager. The Spaniard has transformed the club and is the driving factor behind their resurgence.
Losing someone like Lionel Messi was always going to have a negative impact on the club. The effects of it were imminent under Ronald Koeman. The team struggled to replace the qualities that the Argentine superstar provided. But Xavi has dealt well with the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s absence very well since his appointment. This has helped the club to become competitive once again. They are performing at the highest level and things are looking bright once again for Barcelona.
Let’s have a look at how Xavi transformed Barcelona
Lifting the Mood
Barcelona were poor under Ronald Koeman. The club had lost its identity and the players looked unhappy. However, this has changed since the arrival of Xavi. The Spaniard has focused on improving the mood of players, beginning with training sessions.
Xavi recruited Ivan Torres to his coaching staff. He has introduced a number of team-building exercises to their training regimen. This has improved the mood and the morale of the squad, helping them to gel together as a unit. The result of it can be seen on the football pitch. Barcelona look more like a team now rather than a cluster of individuals.
The Catalan outfit lacked fresh ideas under Ronaldo Koeman. But this has changed under Xavi. The Spaniard was one of the most intelligent players during his time as a professional. He learned under several great managers of his era and is applying his knowledge as a manager now.
Growing up in La Masia, Xavi was accustomed to ‘the Barca way’. The Spaniard uses the same model but adds his own tweaks. His main focus remains positional football. But he is not afraid to use different as per the game’s demands. Xavi on occasions, has opted for more defensive or counter-attacking approaches to see out matches.
Trusting La Masia Players
Barcelona has one of the best youth academies in the world. Xavi himself was a by-product of the famous La Masia academy. The club has always shown faith in young talent. But this had taken a backseat in recent years. However, it is no longer the case.
Several youth academy graduates have made their debut for the first team this season. The likes of Gavi and Nico Gonzalez have established themselves as regular starters. While, Ez Abde, Ferran Jutgla have proved to be crucial replacements to first-team players.
The Catalans have one of the youngest squads in La Liga this season. Injuries and financial restrictions has played some part in it. But Xavi has managed to get the best out of them.
Barcelona are one of the highest spenders in world football in recent years. The club spent millions on the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutino among many others. However, these superstars failed to perform as expected.
Under Xavi, the club has refrained from spending big on superstars. The signings have become more specific to the needs of the team. Barcelona signed Ferran Torres, Adama Traore, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Dani Alves in January. All of them have hit the ground running at the club.
Experience is an important factor in any kind of rebuilding process. With Barcelona having a young squad, veterans needed to step in and lead the new era. And the Barcelona veterans, who were said to be holding the club back have become the backbone of Xavi’s new project.
The likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets have all excelled under the new manager. Even the addition of a 38-year-old Dani Alves has proved to be a massive asset. These veterans had added much-needed experience to a young team.
After an inconsistent start, Barcelona have started performing well under Xavi. Their main objective would be qualifying for the Champions League next season. However, winning the Europa League will be a huge boost for the club.