Report: Going into the 2012-13 season it was expected that Xavi's workload will be lowered, especially with the emergence of Thiago Alcantara. But Xavi rarely gave up his place in the starting XI when he was healthy. But even when he started the game on the bench he all but one time didn't make an appearance as a substitute.
And all that (often unnecessary) playing time began showing toward the end of the season - the most crucial part of the year for knockout competitions like the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey. In February and March Xavi suffered two separate right hamstring injuries - one a tear, one merely a strain - resulting in the midfielder being out of the lineup for seven La Liga games.
Of course, during that time Xavi continued to play a large role in Champions League matches, but it was clear the Xavi's body was ailing. His movement wasn't as sharp as usual which was especially noticeable in the defensive phase of the game. Xavi's passing also suffered as in that two month stretch he barely eclipsed the 90% pass success rate - a poor showing compared to his season average of nearly 95%.
Despite not being fully healthy Xavi started five of the last eight (barely meaningful) games, but showed an improved form. He even added four assists in the last three games of the campaign. The two injuries Xavi suffered ensured that the midfielder played the least games since the injury filled 2005-06 season, but he was otherwise on pace to equal his career high of 54 appearances. Xavi achieved something extraordinary this season as he went the entire club season without picking up a single yellow or red card.
But injuries had little impact on Xavi's international career, forcing him to miss just a couple friendly games. As a key member of the Spain National Team Xavi took part in 17 games, including all six at the 2012 European Championship that Spain won, and four at the 2013 Confederations Cup which La Furia Roja finished in second place. Over those 17 appearances Xavi scored one goal and added three assists.
Moment of the season: Xavi had two exceptional moments of the season, both stunning golazos, one against RCD Mallorca, a free-kick, and the other against Granada CF, from open play. But based on pure importance the goal against Granada won the tiebreaker because it was the game-winning goal and it was scored in the 87th minute of the game. Xavi received the ball on the very edge of the penalty box and fired an unstoppable shot past Toño to earn his team the three points.
Gol de Xavi Hernández (1-0) en el FC Barcelona - Granada CF Jornada 5 (via La Liga)
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
|BB Community Rating*||7.23|
*BB Community Rating represents the average rating (out of 10) Barca Blaugranes community members gave to the player for his performances throughout the season
Record with Xavi in the starting lineup: 28-6-7
2013-14 Outlook: Xavi appears set to repeat the numbers he put up in the 2012-13 season, especially now that he won't be backed-up by Thiago Alcantara. That said, it would be wise to reduce Xavi's playing time for health reasons. It is a well known fact that Xavi hasn't played at 100% in the past few years. And with the 2014 FIFA World Cup coming up it might be a good idea to give him more rest during the season because Vicente del Bosque sure won't give him any, and Xavi will be needed for the 2014-15 season again.
Next Up: Cesc Fabregas