Xavi’s Barcelona 2.0: How he’s reinventing the club as a manager

Xavi’s Barcelona 2.0: How he’s reinventing the club as a manager

Xavi Hernández calls Barcelona “the most difficult club in the world” to be part of for 20 years, whether as a coach, current player or player.

Before leaving for Qatar in 2015.


Xavi explains why winning alone is not enough.

We have to win with the DNA of the club.


The club’s DNA is the source of late-night bar talk at Les Courts.

I could talk for hours about how the club’s style has evolved over the past 35 years under Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, but in the end it comes down to the three Ps: positioning, possession and pressing.


Barça wants to play attacking and exciting football.

If possible, you want to play the backline with a push or two.

Click up. They want players who can excite the fans, score great goals and win games and trophies.

Live: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, 10 a.m. 

Despite winning LaLiga last season (their first league title since 2019), there were complaints that Barca failed to hit all of their KPIs. The hiccup comes after the team beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals at the Santiago Bernabeu in March.

With so many players missing through injury, Barca had to adapt to the game and hand over 60% of the ball to Madrid, but Madrid failed to score. They were criticized for their performance.

In the second leg, Barca lost 4-0 at Camp Nou on Spotify with 53% possession.


This reflects Xavi’s struggles this season as he strives to create a 2.0 version of the Barca team. After building a league-winning side last season thanks to a solid defence, sources have told ESPN that Xavi wants to make as much progress with the ball as he believes his side have made without it in 2021 after replacing Ronald Koeman in the ninth.


The team of  2021 In La Liga.


The Clásico, which will be broadcast live this Saturday at 10 a.m. (USA), is a great opportunity to see how Barcelona have developed since last season at the Olympic Stadium.

The injury list is heavy – Sergi Roberto and Jules Kounde are out permanently, while Pedri, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong are out for Saturday’s game.

Consider this type of competition.

Build your base


After the appointment of Xavi, Barca completely overhauled their squad. Defenders Kounde and Andreas Christensen arrived last summer, while youngsters Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde have both established themselves as regulars as part of Barca’s new backline, which forms the backbone of the league with the help of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

topic. Inigo Martinez later joined.

The Blaugrana conceded just 20 goals in La Liga last season, their lowest in 38 games. They have won 1-0 11 times and tried their luck at times, but Xavi’s side have looked very different defensively to the teams that have conceded 38 goals in each of the last three seasons.

Cunde – or in special cases like Vinicius Jr., Araujo.

From Madrid – Plays as a right back, allowing the team to switch to a center back trio when needed.


However, while Barça won in defence, they lost in attack.

Barca, despite adding Lewandowski and Rafinha, dropped 70 goals to 22-23.

It is the second time in 15 seasons that Guardiola has failed to score more than 80 points in a season since 2008-09, Guardiola’s first season.

During this period, the tally was more than 7 times more than 100. The only time they went below 80 was when they scored 68 after replacing Xavi Koeman at 21-22.

That’s why Xavi clarified in his diagnosis what the team needs to improve in the summer.

He wants more creativity at right back and in midfield to replace Sergio Busquets (now with Lionel Messi at Inter Miami).

The club’s financial situation forced him to sacrifice his playing squad and he chose quality over quantity.

Barça only have 19 players in the first team, but young players such as Ramin Yamal and Fermin Lopes are also mainstays.

Rear balance.


The signing of Joao Cancelo on loan from Manchester City is the biggest indicator of how Xavi wants Barca to play.

The Portuguese international replaces Kounde on the right, with the Frenchman returning to central defender.

Cancelo seems capable of playing a midfielder role as much as a winger, providing a numerical advantage in central areas.

He averages 3.94 attempts per 90 minutes this season with a success rate of 68%, while Kounde’s success rate of 1.11 attempts per 90 minutes last season was 50 %. He also scored two goals and an assist in seven games, creating 1.26 chances per 90 minutes. Kounde created 0.59 chances per 90 minutes in 29 La Liga games last season, scoring one goal and providing three assists.

Neither of those numbers are surprising given the profiles of both players, but they highlight the difference Cancelo will make in the back three.


However, without the ball, Barca are vulnerable to goals.

This is because Xavi is still struggling to find a balance between solid defending and getting forward.

This season they have conceded 10 goals in 10 league games, while last season they needed 31 games to reach that number.

There are elements left over from last year. They conceded 20 goals but had an xGa of 33.61, with Ter Stegen acting as a goalscorer at times.

This is back to their average this season with 10 goals conceded and an xGa of 9.88.

Busquets was replaced

Xavi said the key to Barca’s summer will be how well they replace Busquets, who left for Inter Miami when his contract expired.

The club didn’t have the money for their first choice – Real Sociedad’s Martin Zuvimendi or Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich – so they brought Oriol Romeu back to the club after 10 years at Valencia and Chelsea.

, Stuttgart, Southampton, Girona.

Romeu has had a good start to the season, but his quality has been questioned in recent weeks, especially after De Jong’s injury.

Romeu started the season as an important part of the team given his ability to anchor the midfield, although he is not at the same level as Barcelona’s other midfielders – De Jong, Pedri, Gabi and Ilkay Gundogan. But the more games this team plays, the less important Romeu becomes.

Barca are better on the ball when they are not on the pitch and have a 17 goal difference in all competitions when they are not on the pitch.

The goal difference against him is 1.

This difference is a big reason why Xavi still prefers deep-lying midfielders. In the short term, with de Jong and Pedri recovering from injury, the manager will have to decide whether to keep Romeu in front of the back four or leave him out in classic Barca style.

Press the handbrake and select attack.

creative midfielder


Gundogan, a free agent from Man City, has failed to satisfy Xavi’s desire for a creative midfielder. Sources say where he believes the team needs to improve is the link between defense and attack.

Asked who his dream would be this summer, he mentioned someone with the same profile as Santi Cazorla.

City remain a long-term target for Bernardo Silva despite being out of the club’s price range.

Gundogan can fill that role.

That’s a good thing, but the same goes for Pedri, who has missed 25 games through injury since the start of last season.

This left Barca reliant on Gundogan to build in central areas.

He is seventh in La Liga for xA (2.35) and fifth for chances created (21), and no other Barça player can come close to his figures. Ferran Torres and Gavi are next with 10 chances each.

Joao Felix, Cancelo and Lewandowski totaled eight.

Sources in Xavi’s coaching staff believe that if Gundogan and Pedri can play longer games together, Barca are more in line with what Xavi wants.


The variety and unpredictability of attacks


There are hints of what this new Barça can do even without Pedri.

Especially after the signing of Felix and Cancelo.

The Portuguese duo’s first two starts coincided with what Xavi said was his “best performance” as a manager.

There were 5-0 wins against Real Betis and Royal Antwerp in September.


These wins embody everything Xavi has tried to bring to the team this season.

Cancelo’s versatility and creativity on the right flank, Felix’s unpredictability in attack and Gundogan’s ingenuity.

However, Barcelona have been inconsistent since then, collecting points against Celta Vigo, Mallorca and Granada to ensure an unbeaten start to the season in La Liga over 10 games.


Injuries to Lewandowski and Rafinha have not helped, but some sources say Xavi has found players in the club’s academy who can cope with the display that has become his watchword this season. He wants his players to take risks with the ball, run at the opposition, get between the lines and play without fear.


“This generation of players has no fear,” Xavi said after 17-year-old Marc Giou scored the only goal on his Athletic Bilbao debut on Sunday.

“He’s looking at me like, ‘Stay there.

I’ll show you I’m ready.” And I’m ready.

“They have character and courage.”

Guiu, 17, is just the latest example of another promising star emerging from Barcelona’s academy.

Xavi’s squad is full of them now.


It could be argued that the expansion of the club’s La Masia academy to the first team is also part of the club’s DNA.

This team certainly does.

16-year-old Yamal, who played against Granada before Guyu, and 20-year-old Mallorca’s Lopez assisted him from the bench.

Gabi, still only 19, and Alejandro Balde, 20, are already regulars in the first team.

An important role will also be played by Felix, on loan from Atletico Madrid until the end of the season. His ability to cut deep into midfield to create space is useful and he is also willing to take responsibility in attack, as he showed against Athletic when he set up Giu for the winning goal. With Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati out of the club, Lewandowski injured and Rafinha and Torres underperforming, he quickly established himself as a key player in Barca’s new attack.


But with just one goal in seven league games at 3.07 xG, Felix will be expected to feature more in Saturday’s game against Madrid.

Finally, in this match Barca can make a statement.


Gerard Pique says Barca are “back” after 4-0 win at Santiago Bernabeu in March 2022.

Xavi said the 3-1 win against Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in January this year was a turning point for the team.

Expulsion from the Copa del Rey three months later opened the door to doubt as the style of winning the first leg and another decisive performance in the second leg fell flat.

Saturday is another opportunity to draw conclusions.

After playing over 100 games in two years, Xavi will have the chance to show where he belongs in this young Barca team.


For more updates on Barcelona news, please visit sportsearchers.com


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