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Now is the time for Xavi to thrive at Barcelona

Injuries no excuse

FC Barcelona v Elche CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The international break certainly hasn’t been kind to Barca, and with Hector Bellerin adding his name to the injury list on Tuesday, Xavi’s squad are dropping like flies.

Though it could still be said to be too early to be a prophet of doom, a few poor results across the next few weeks could put a real dent in Barca’s aspirations this season.

Despite not being at their best, Real Madrid are still, annoyingly, grinding out results. They’ll not lose too many this season, so three points against the eternal rival is almost a must.

Another performance at the Bernabeu like last season’s would be just the ticket, even if that seems a bit of a pipe dream at present.

The two Champions League ties against Inter also take on extra significance, but these are, frankly, challenges that Xavi should be relishing.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Preseason Friendly Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

When the going gets tough, the tough get going and all that.

Focus will be on his players of course, but the spotlight should be shone in his direction too.

With one or two exceptions, he’s been handed the squad he asked for, so even without the likes of Bellerin, Depay, De Jong, Araujo, Dembele and Kounde, Barca should still have enough about them to trouble most teams.

How Xavi steers the ship through these choppy waters will tell us much about his long-term suitability in the role.

It was always felt that the baton being passed to him would represent a logical step: From Cruyff to Pep and Pep to Xavi, via a few temporary alliances.

FC Barcelona v Manchester City - Friendly Match Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The latter has begun reasonably well in the position it must be said, turning things around last season and watching his side enthuse the locals during this campaign.

He clearly has the support of everyone inside the club too and the vast majority of supporters appear to be behind him at this juncture, but question marks will remain until he safely negotiates games like those that are upcoming.

Can he really draw out the best from a team that are without some of its stalwarts at the first crucial stage of the season? Does he have time on his side to be able to smooth out any rough edges? Will culers turn against him before the break for the World Cup if things don’t go the way they all hope? Is it too early in his tenure to even be bothered by such incidentals?

Xavi certainly has the gravitas for the role but the proof of whether it’s too big for him or not will only be found out in due course.

Time to thrive…

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