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Pedri has Barcelona dreaming of glory again

Pedri and the winter soldiers are leading the club into the future

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Santander Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Johan Cruyff had Pep Guardiola, and Guardiola had Xavi.

Xavi now has Pedri, and the circle of life at Barcelona continues.

Barcelona has never been about winning for the sake of it. Since the arrival of Cruyff as manager, and his original dream team, the focus was on how you play the game.

It seems impossible that Pedri wasn’t educated at La Masia. Instead, he is showing how the influence of the Barcelona philosophy has spread around the world.

Having stars at this club isn’t enough. For Barcelona, you need a team that can dominate the ball together. For that to work, you need a midfielder who embodies the ethos.

That’s Pedri. The young Spaniard is the figurehead of the next generation of Barcelona brilliance.

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Santander Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ronald Koeman’s greatest contribution was recognizing this right away, and making Pedri a regular first team player.

But alas, there wasn’t a system to bring out the best of his talents.

Barcelona supporters are glowing with excitement now, because Xavi’s hard work is finally bearing fruit.

At the center of his system is Pedri. And the system itself is starting to look unstoppable.

Defensively, Pedri is helping lead the charge high up the field, keeping opponents under pressure, and allowing the team to play a high line.

In possession is when the magic manifests, however, because the game flows through him.

As dazzling as it is to see the nutmegs along the sideline, Pedri’s true value is how he commands the troops, dictating where the team should go, and at what pace.

He is the field general, operating in tight spaces in one moment, and then creating space the next with a long, millimeter perfect, diagonal pass.

But Pedri isn’t an artist, he is a footballer. And even the best footballers need a team around them, and a coach who empowers them to play bravely and to their strengths.

SSC Napoli v FC Barcelona: Knockout Round Play-Offs Leg Two - UEFA Europa League Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The winter signings are allowing Pedri’s talents to shine through. And the last 20 minutes of the Athletic match was his masterclass.

For the midfielder to look up, and see a fully stretched attacking line, with space in abundance, is truly a gift.

When Adama Traore and Ousmane Dembele are the wingers, all Pedri has to do is find the open man. If the ball arrives, there’s nothing the defense can do. Too much space, you’re already finished.

Add to that instinctive finishers like Pierre-Emirick Aubameyang and Luuk de Jong, and the attacking unit is complete.

Special recognition needs to be given to Frenkie de Jong as well. Frenkie and Pedri are evolving into an incredible midfield tandem, and the fireworks really did begin upon his entrance with Dembouz.

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Santander Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

This is a team now.

Everyone has a role, and everyone is doing their job with aplomb.

Give credit to Xavi for never panicking, staying positive, and trusting the Barcelona philosophy.

All he needed was reinforcements, and for Pedri, the foundation of this system, to get healthy and up to speed again.

Looking back, February was an incredibly challenging and consequential month, especially after the unnecessary turbulence prior.

Barcelona got the results, four commanding wins and two draws, but most important of all, they got their mojo back with vintage performances.

The bar has been raised, and the sky’s the limit.

This Barcelona machine is showing no signs of slowing down, and for the first time in a long time, challengers beware.

Football Club Barcelona has returned and wants its throne back.