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Positive start for Xavi but his Barcelona won’t be built in a day

Good and bad points

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

A typical Catalan derby to begin Xavi’s reign at Camp Nou, and one which had some good and not so good points to the performance.

It was fantastic to see and hear that type of atmosphere because that excitement and fervour has been missing for so long. It goes to show what a difference the crowd can make in matches such as the derby.

A decent Espanyol side is something of a novelty too, and on another night, they would’ve, perhaps deservedly, taken the three points back to the other side of the city.

Certainly, the defensive aspects are where the Blaugranes are falling down at present.

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Santander Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Whilst it’s a little unfair to attach the blame to any one defender in particular, as a collective there’s still a feeling of disjointedness.

At least Marc-Andre ter Stegen had one of his better games because a nervous goalkeeper behind that back line would’ve spelled danger.

Ilias making his debut was a surprise, but he acquitted himself well for the most part and will provide another great attacking option as needed.

Not seeing Riqui Puig from the start tonight is a signifier to me that he’s done at Barca.

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is that managers clearly don’t like about him, but basing it off the 15 minutes he had on Saturday night, perhaps a lack of authority in possession as well as not having the same drive with the ball that we see from the likes of Gavi could be reasons.

Fc Barcelona V Rcd Espanyol - La Liga Photo By Marc Graupera Aloma/Europa Press via Getty Images

Little tippy-tappy passes are great for wasting time, but when was the last time you saw Riqui go at a player and beat him?

Finishing was ok without being fantastic, but I can’t be too harsh of many of the players, simply because they’re still getting used to new ways of working and different patterns of play.

Imagine how difficult it must be when your brain is hard-wired to play in a certain way, and you then have to re-train it to think differently. It takes time.

There was lots to admire about the shape of the team, and that’s a great point from which to build. The urgency and accuracy needs work and that will come.

Tiredness was certainly a factor so the fitness trainers have a job on their hands too.

All in all, the match left me with a positive feeling, even if I know the road ahead will be bumpy initially.

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