This Barcelona team needs to thank their lucky stars, and press the reset button going into the international break.
Xavi’s honeymoon is just about over, and it behooves him to recognize that these players are regressing to the lackluster mean that we’ve seen under his predecessors.
No wonder he wants two new signings in this transfer window. I wonder though whether he’s targeting the biggest areas of need.
Above all else, accountability is needed for these inconsistent performances, especially for the players who seem glued to the rotation regardless of what they’re giving on the field.
This team is finding no joy in their football. No creativity, and no competitive spirit.
To have so much of the ball, 76% this time around, and to do to so little in the attack suggests that there is pathological need to use possession as a security blanket, out of fear of taking chances going forward.
A much more drastic shake up may be needed for Xavi to show he is committed to holding the group to high standards.
There’s too much on the line coming up in February.
A big test against Atletico Madrid, who embarrassed Barca in their first meeting in the fall, and the beginning of a critical Europa League campaign against a very confident Napoli side.
With all the talk of players showing they have pride in playing for this great club, the performance against Alaves demonstrated that in practice, on the field where it matters the most, everyone is guilty.
When you care about something, you fight for it with every fiber of your being.
Aside from Pedri and Frenkie de Jong’s moments of quality, there was no fighting spirit from just about anyone. Instead, we saw a contagion of low energy and no ambition.
Xavi is going to have to grow up fast as a coach.
Leadership that shows tough love, and inspires passionate performances on a consistent basis, is a requirement to get through this season, and avoid the disaster of missing out on next year’s Champions League.
I for one can’t wait for January to come to a close. The transfer sagas have been demoralizing, and have created distractions that make Xavi’s job even more challenging.
Supporting him as a coach means not putting him in the middle of the fight between the club and Ousmane Dembele, one of his best players who certainly could have made a difference against Alaves.
But Xavi did himself no favors by waiting so long to make a substitution, and was lucky to escape with the win. Passive in-game management like that was reminiscent of frustrations that many fans had with Ronald Koeman.
When your team sleep walks their way through the first half, it would be encouraging to see the manager hold players to account at halftime. Not having as much depth as you would like is not an excuse.
Xavi will be forgiven for making tactical mistakes from time to time, but we need to see that he’s learning these lessons in real time.
His big advantage at the moment is that he embodies the Barcelona spirit, and truly loves this club.
He needs to live that passion fiercely, and demand the same from everyone else.
In many ways, he sacrificed a lot to become the manager when he did.
There are no guarantees that he’ll experience glory anytime soon, but he can do the thankless work behind the scenes of getting the house in order.
Time for a quick break and a reset.
Xavi’s Barcelona is reaching a tipping point, and they need to find solutions fast.