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Barcelona desperately need a reset heading into 2024

Xavi and his team look confused and low on confidence

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

The holiday break has mercifully arrived for Barcelona.

This is not where Xavi expected his team to be with the year coming to a close. Barely passing by the worst team in La Liga.

It wasn’t a tactical masterclass by Almeria, who were looking for their very first win of the season. They were just as bad as we thought they would be. Barcelona just happened to lower themselves to their level.

Robert Lewandowski, poor guy, continues to struggle in front of goal. So who stepped up to show him the way? None other than the pride and joy of La Masia himself, Sergi Roberto.

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

Unbelievable that the much-maligned midfielder was inches away from a hat-trick on the day, as if to say, come on guys, this is Almeria we’re talking about. It’s not that hard.

But it is that hard for Barcelona at the moment, because for most of the team, the more they play, the more they look lost, the more they lose confidence in themselves and each other.

Ronald Araujo was in the middle of two defensive blunders, and yet you know you can’t go blaming him. Even the heart and soul of this team needs a break after such a dispiriting December.

The worst of all is seeing certain players look as if they aren’t trying. Joao Felix was correctly taken off at half-time. That may have been the move that saved Xavi the game.

Ferran Torres can be wasteful, and overall far below the level expected at Barcelona, but you never question his pride and desire to deliver for his team.

FC Barcelona v UD Almeria - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Pedro Salado/Getty Images

Maybe his role has been too small this season considering the competition.

Raphinha recorded a goal and an assist, and sadly, you still question his performance on the day.

The truth is, at some point, if the team is struggling this badly, everyone is set up for failure, aside from the occasional day of magic, such as the one Sergi Roberto just experienced.

So what’s the best Xavi and the club can hope for going into 2024?

La Liga would have really been out of sight if Almeria had managed to get the result they had deserved on the day.

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

But it’s still there in striking distance, knowing that Girona will have their work cut out to maintain the same level in the second half of the season, and that Real Madrid has also shown itself to be inconsistent.

The Copa del Ray and Supercopa are around the corner. That’s the first order of business, and Barcelona has a favorable draw in both. It will be a good chance for the team to rebuild their confidence.

In fact, January and February look to be the kindest months on the calendar with domestic games against Las Palmas, Real Betis, and Villareal. Xavi and his men can’t slip enough. In fact, they need to be on a mission to turn their fortunes around completely.

But the looming clash against Napoli in the Champions League will be a test of whether Barcelona have really improved where it matters under Xavi. The pressure of a European knockout will sink this team fast if they haven’t found a new formula on the field.

SSC Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen looks during... Photo by Antonio Balasco/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

Joan Laporta and Deco, it’s time to go to work.

That doesn’t mean they have to make signings out of desperation in January, but they need to take an honest and hard look at this team. And decide what their ambitions are for this season, while keeping an eye on future seasons as well.

Vitor Roque will get a crack at the lineup, but he’s unproven in Europe.

With Gavi out the rest of the way, Sergi Roberto has officially entered the rotation. Barcelona should applaud his heroics on Wednesday, while also being realistic about the depth at the position, and prioritize a new signing, or a loan, in this area.

FC Barcelona v UD Almeria - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Cristian Trujillo/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Because one thing is for sure, this is not the way forward. What we are seeing is a total mess.

Xavi and Barcelona are at rock bottom.

And as scary as that is, it’s also an opportunity if they can admit it, and pivot in a new direction.

But that requires hard decisions to be made. And certain high-profile players to be held accountable with tough love when they aren’t proving they are up to the task.

Time to make some resolutions. Change is needed on Montjuïc.

May the players and the manager enjoy some time off.

And return ready to put the past behind them, as they head into a brighter future.

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