In his Masterclass that came out recently, Xavi talks about the importance of viewing the ball as a treasure and not a bomb.
Something you desire because, when you have it, you control your opponents and the game.
That continues to be a truism in the game of modern football that he helped usher in.
Against Alaves, it was mission accomplished. 80% possession resulting in 16 shots and 5 on target.
Good stats, and what seemed like an improvement on recent performances in live play.
So what went wrong? Does the philosophy need updating, or are the Barca players just doing it wrong?
When you see Xavi gesticulate and shout as he talks football, as many good managers do, his passion for the game is obvious.
It’s a puzzle he wants to solve.
A belief he stands behind.
A plan he wants to put into action.
That’s leadership you believe in.
It’s what this Barcelona team is missing on and off the field.
These Barca players are book smart, but freeze up once they hit the streets.
No one is stepping up to command the troops.
To score the goal.
To make the tackle.
To take the risk that breaks down the defensive line.
Everyone is waiting for someone else to take the lead.
Perhaps that’s the biggest indictment on the captains. Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, for all they are capable of giving under the right circumstances, are too timid to be good leaders.
And given the sloppy play of late, they aren’t leading by example either.
On the field, Barcelona doesn’t need to find the next Lionel Messi. They need to find the next Javier Mascherano or Carles Puyol.
Players willing to do the hard work in the background while their talented teammates shine. Energizers with a warrior spirit.
No one was great against Alaves, but from the standpoint of playing with pride and intensity, recognition should be given to Gavi, and even Riqui Puig and Alejandro Balde during their brief cameos.
If Xavi arrives, he will be an upgrade right away because he’ll bring with him a playbook with proven success, and a commitment to really giving it a go.
The Barca players will listen because they’ll see a man who really believes in what he’s saying.
They may even be inspired.
But stepping onto the field is like going to battle. You need commanders who will rally the troops. Keep them organized. Have them play with courage, and confidence in the fight they are taking on.
In the years since Xavi left the team, that spirit has gone away.
The big question will be whether he can bring it back, and bring out the same attitude in the players.
That day can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
This team needs a leader now.