It was a night to forget in so many ways for Barcelona, and yet against Athletic Club, Xavi’s battlers still could’ve won.
On the night, that wouldn’t have been the right result. The Basques deserved their victory though it does lift the spirits to see there is something about this team that promises great things.
Perhaps one of the main issues Xavi will need to address in the summer is whether the likes of Jordi Alba still deserve to start.
We certainly don’t want to see a repeat of the ‘club de amigos’ and after Thursday night’s game, Alba will need to be looking over his shoulder.
He wasn’t the only player whose sloppy passing wasn’t what we’ve come to expect of this team either.
For all of the grit, determination and fight that this team evidently has, it must be backed up with character and a willingness to play the Barça way.
We saw it with Ferran’s goal - which was utterly glorious - but there weren’t too many other passages of play that were noteworthy.
Lest we forget of course that Xavi has only been in the job a few weeks, and his request for everyone to trust the process needs to be heeded.
In many respects the game was overshadowed by the Dembele saga.
I applaud the board for taking such a hard line on the matter. Whatever the whys and wherefores of the contract terms and financials, the club simply aren’t in a position to be held to ransom.
His agent talks of blackmail, but that’s an easy cop out and a way of spinning the narrative.
How he is leaving the club mirrors his attitude upon leaving Dortmund and enough is enough.
He’s unlikely to go before the end of the month, but with Ansu regrettably out again, it’s going to be interesting to see whether that ‘spell in the stands’ holds firm enough now.
Such rotten luck for Ansu, who’ll need resilience and mental strength to get through another extended period on the sidelines.
Pedri’s issue doesn’t appear to be as bad as first feared, but any absences are going to hurt Xavi in the interim.
Perhaps not having to worry about the Copa will prove to be a blessing in disguise for the next few weeks, meaning the squad can focus all of their efforts on getting as high up La Liga as possible.
Onwards and upwards…