Barca consistently aims for early Champions League advancement

Barcelona –

Barcelona will play Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday in Hamburg in an attempt to secure a spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League, after two years of suffering in the group stage.


The Spanish champions would advance if they win Group H for the fourth time in a row, something they haven’t done since 2021, when they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Kylian Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain.


Barcelona has clearly improved since Xavi joined the team in November of that year; the team won La Liga the previous season, but they have also struggled in Europe and have not had the spark in their play that many, including the coach, would like to see.

The club’s season peaked in September with back-to-back 5-0 victories over Real Betis in La Liga and Royal Antwerp in the Champions League, but it hasn’t consistently played that kind of football.


Even though the Catalans easily defeated Shakhtar 2-1 at home in October, they were unable to end the match and suffered in the closing minutes as the Ukrainians tried to tie the score.


Three days later, the same scenario played out in the La Liga Clasico between Real Madrid and Ilkay Gundogan, with Jude Bellingham winning Real Madrid with an incredible double.

On the other hand, Barcelona defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 on Saturday despite playing from behind the entire time and producing very little until Ronald Araujo’s stoppage-time winner.


“There are times when football is inexplicable,” Xavi said, acknowledging that the team needed to be “self-critical.”


When Luis Enrique took over as manager in 2015, the team won the Champions League, and Xavi was a vital player during that run. However, his play since then has been very different from both of those peaks.


The team will continue to strive to follow in the footsteps of its forebears, the coach has previously stated, even though it is not feasible to be as dominant as it was during his playing career.


A performance as lackluster as the one against Real Sociedad in San Sebastian, according to Xavi, cannot be tolerated.


The coach told reporters, “Today is an example of what we must not do, above all in terms of intensity—that’ssomethingunacceptable.” It’s not possible. However, a champion team does more than just play well to win.”


After not playing since August, midfielder Pedri returned from injury in the second half of the match against Real Sociedad.

The Canary Islander’s return will enable the team to play with greater fluidity, according to Xavi.


Xavi predicted that “Pedri will change the face of the team.” “That’s excellent news for the group and for him.”


After missing out on playing time due to an ankle injury in the Clasico, Robert Lewandowski started the match against Real Sociedad but did not make much of an impact either time.


He may be best served by returning to Germany, where he excelled while playing for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. In the first game against Shakhtar, Barcelona failed to capitalize on his deadly finishing.


In an apparent attempt to relieve Joao Cancelo of some of the defensive duties, Xavi might also abandon the three center-back formation he has been using for the past two games.


Although the attacking Portuguese right-back has made significant contributions up front, during his first few months with the team, he has been a weak point at the back.


The team’s inconsistent play may be attributed to Xavi’s failure to establish a reliable system.


Barca’s ideal lineup, with an abundance of central midfielders and breakthrough players, is also unknown when everyone is healthy. Fermin Lopez and Lamine Yamal are giving Xavi a selection headache, but a good one.


With two games remaining, the coach will secure qualification on Tuesday, giving himself more time to get his act together before facing much more difficult matches in the Champions League’s later stages.

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