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Four reasons for Xavi and Barcelona to be optimistic ahead of Alaves

Back to winning ways?

FC Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Barcelona: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The less said about the defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk and the manner of the performance in their Champions League clash the better.

It was that horrific that no more time needs to be spent dissecting where it all went wrong.

A post-match dressing room meeting appears to have cleared the air, and coming so soon after Ilkay Gundogan’s wise words, it’ll hopefully give the first-team the kick up the backside they need to kick-start their season.

Until this midweek, things might not have been great this season but they certainly hadn’t been bad.

Even losing in El Clasico had its positives given that the Blaugranes were clearly the better side for at least two-thirds of that match if not more.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Barcelona: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Mateusz Slodkowski/Getty Images

However, that defeat combined with the Shakhtar result and getting out of jail against Real Sociedad, has seen the Barca fan base turn on Xavi a little.

He doesn’t get a free pass just because he was part of the best Barca team in history, and if he wants respect as a manager, he has to earn it all over again.

Fortunately, he’ll get the chance to do just that as Alaves ride into town for their Sunday afternoon fixture and, frankly, Barca couldn’t have a better opponent at this point.

For a start, the hosts haven’t lost any of their last 11 La Liga matches against the team from Vitoria. Their record of nine matches won and two drawn is Barca’s longest unbeaten run against them in history of the competition.

With just five goals in their last five games in all competitions for Barca, the need to find the net with some sort of regularity is obvious too.

Fortunately, when playing Alaves in Catalonia, they’ve only failed to score in one of their last 17 matches against them.

That came via a 1-0 loss way back in February 2000, a game in which Xavi played. An incredible record of W13 D2 L2 will also give culers hope of a long-overdue goal fest.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Barcelona: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

If any other stats were required to make that glass half full rather than half empty, it’s worth noting that Alaves coach, Luis Garcia Plaza, has lost each of his last five games to Barca in the Spanish top-flight and his side has conceded at least four goals in four of those five defeats.

Furthermore, Joao Felix has been involved in three goals in his last two games against Alaves in LaLiga (two goals and an assist).

Whether or not there will be rich pickings for Barca’s front line on Sunday afternoon will arguably be down to Xavi and his tactics, though there are certainly reasons to believe this could be another goal fest.

Failure to excite the locals, however, could see a monumental backlash in the days afterwards.

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