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Barcelona and Xavi handed a footballing lesson by Michel’s Girona

Well beaten

FC Barcelona v Girona FC - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There’s no getting away from the fact that Barca’s 4-2 defeat against Girona was down to the tactical ineptitude of Xavi - and that’s something that’s becoming a recurring theme.

Let’s take nothing away from the visitors to Montjuic though for they were fully deserving of their history-making win.

Given that Xavi and his back room staff would’ve been well aware of the expansive and positive way in which Michel has set up his team this season, Barca were far, far too open for long periods of the match.

This from a coach that’s been in the job for two years but hasn’t really improved the side in any way, shape or form.

By way of example, Girona were given the freedom of the park to score a basic, but well-taken first goal so, as a coach, you shut up shop and don’t allow it to happen again.

FC Barcelona v Girona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

And yet, well before Girona scored a second that should have been stopped at source, the visitors were routinely cutting through the midfield like a knife through butter and making the home defence look amateurish at times.

Barca weren’t quite headless chickens but there was a very real sense that some players weren’t entirely sure what their role was at various stages of the game. That was typified by Rafinha taking a second-half free-kick that Robert Lewandowski was readying himself for.

Question marks clearly remain over Xavi’s backroom staff too. What does his brother actually do for example, other than pop up out of his chair on the bench every so often?

FC Barcelona v Girona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

There has to be more direction given from the sidelines, and more urgency from Barca’s point of view. The team cannot expect to continue to stroll through games and win them at a canter.

The Blaugranes came out of the blocks with intent, as they had done against Atletico Madrid, but that dynamism soon faded. The full-backs were consistently caught too high up the pitch, with Ilkay Gundogan and Pedro particularly lightweight centrally.

Without Gavi, there is little aggression in the midfield and whilst that hasn’t always necessarily been what Barca have been about, it’s precisely in a local derby when some strong arm tactics need to be legitimately employed.

The disjointed nature of Barca’s associative play between midfield and attack, and the consistent schoolboy defending wasn’t pretty to watch, whereas the way in which Girona set the tempo and attacked at pace was a joy at times.

A few decent results for Xavi this season notwithstanding, Sunday’s performance was simply nowhere near good enough for this club, and letting in four at home to a team that has never beaten you is, frankly, an embarrassment.

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