The big story from Barcelona’s final competitive match of 2023 was the reported passionate dressing room speech given by manager Xavi Hernández at halftime of their La Liga game against Almería, which was tied at 1-1 after an apathetic, lethargic performance by the home side in the opening period.
Xavi reportedly urged his team to play with more passion and commitment, and every report seems to agree that the coach’s voice was a lot louder than usual which surprised some of the players, including striker Robert Lewandowski who one report says was one of the main targets of Xavi’s angry plea.
The speech clearly worked as Barça looked a lot more intense in the second half, with captain Sergi Roberto scoring two big goals to lead the team to a 3-2 win despite whistles from the crowd and a poor performance overall.
The team’s change in attitude can’t be denied, however, and Xavi’s speech had a lot to do with that. And the coach did not try in any way to deny the reports, and confirmed that he had to raise his voice to get his point across.
“I try to be sincere and honest, say things to their face, I can’t hide that. Shouts? Tension, is normal, it’s a dressing room, we had a lot at stake and I thought it was convenient to raise my voice a little, nothing more. From here on I think the team has reacted very well, very well, in the dressing room we are a team, a big family. They are professionals and they understood it very well, in the second half they took the route in which we now have to stay on. We will stop, have a break, to face 2024 with great desire and enthusiasm.
It’s a very positive thing that the team responded to Xavi’s fiery speech and changed their attitude because it shows they still believe in the coach’s message. Regardless of how we fans feel about Xavi, the players will dictate whether or not the boss stays in charge by the way they react to his message, however flawed we perceive it to be. If the players ever lose faith, then we’re all in trouble.
For now Xavi’s voice still resonates, even if the volume needed to be a little higher this time.