The turn of the year is a time for reflection, and for Barcelona there’s plenty to look back on.
2022 was a true contrast of ups and down as the Xavi era began.
It started with the melodrama of the Ousmane Dembele contract negotiation, and rough results on the pitch highlighted by an early knockout in the Copa del Rey.
Still, there were moments of hope with Barcelona giving Real Madrid a go in the Spanish Supercopa, showing that even while losing, they could put in a performance with the big boys again.
The winter transfer window saved the season, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Adama Traore infusing life into the squad, alongside a resurrected Ousmane Dembele.
Barca went on to a comfortable second place finish in La Liga that included a statement thumping of Real Madrid.
But it was more of an adrenaline shot than a structural fix.
Joan Laporta went big over the summer by bringing in Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, and Raphinha.
This Barcelona team is supposed to win now.
With the season set to resume, they sit first in La Liga. Fantastic.
But it’s overshadowed by the devastating Champions League knockout.
The pressure is on in 2023.
So time to set some resolutions to focus the minds, and have some goals to shoot for.
First, Xavi needs to win trophies. Multiple trophies.
One of those trophies needs to be La Liga now that European glory is no longer on the menu.
It’s going to be a two-way race between the historic Spanish rivals.
That pressurizes the situation even more. Barcelona will be playing to win as much as they will be playing to make sure Real Madrid loses. We’re talking about dethroning the reigning Spanish and European champions. They cannot be allowed to build a dynasty anew.
But early on Barcelona can signal they are up to the task by winning the Spanish Supercopa, and making a serious run in the Copa del Rey and the Europa League. Silverware is silverware, and Barcelona needs to ruthlessly go after all of it again.
Real Madrid and Manchester United will be standing in their way in these competitions. Take them down and claim what’s yours.
A brace of trophies would be a huge success for Xavi so long as one of them is a domestic league title.
In Europe, a run to the finals would be a great gift to the fans after a dreadful capitulation to Frankfurt in the year prior. And the fans can give back to the team by actually showing up at the Camp Nou to support them.
When the new season begins, an essential resolution will be to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League. Apparently this is easier said than done, but there are absolutely no excuses here.
But Barcelona must also have an eye on the future, and the biggest agenda item here is replacing Sergio Busquets, assuming his contract won’t be renewed.
This year, let’s honor the Barca legend by enjoying his singular genius in his last games with the club, and then giving the best defensive midfielder of all time a proper sendoff.
Time to move on, and it’s up to Xavi to show he has a plan to make it happen smoothly instead of continuing on with Busquets dependence.
Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player of the future, regardless of where you put him in the midfield. Xavi needs to decide how the Dutchman fits into his plans, and prove he can fit alongside the young and exciting Spanish midfield prodigies.
Speaking of being young and talented, this will be the year that Alejandro Balde becomes a star.
We all know how difficult it is to find full-backs on the market, so lucky for Barca a homegrown baller has emerged. Xavi needs to seriously continue to cultivate this talent, and count on him against the biggest opponents.
In addition to that, this needs to be the year that Barcelona sees a return on its most expensive investments.
Ferran Torres and Raphinha will be living under intense scrutiny to prove their worth.
Ousmane Dembele will have a chance to silence his haters, and become a leader on the field for a manager who has had his back through thick and thin.
Ansu Fati could become a great feelgood story once again. This time of the comeback variety.
With Gerard Pique walking off into the sunset, the Barcelona backline of the future begins.
Will the Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo partnership flourish? For me, it’s hell yes. They could be the most dominant and dynamic tandem in Europe.
This could also be the year we finally solve the great challenge of finding a right full-back once and for all.
As hard as it will be to say goodbye to Sergi Roberto, we just have to be strong and do it.
You’ll always have your PSG remontada moment Sergi, and we will always be grateful for that. But the time has come for us to say a fond farewell nonetheless.
Because this club has no choice but to hold itself to the highest standards everywhere.
From the boardroom to the locker room, everyone must get it right, and this team must win now.
Whatever it takes.
The consequences are too high.
Will this be the year that Barcelona makes it back to the top?
Is Xavi the man to lead the way?
Time to get back to work.
Barcelona is back, and every game counts.
Let’s see what they’re made of.