Let’s be honest, when Eric Garcia was named among the starting line up at Elche, you took a deep breath, right?
When it became clear that he would play in the pivot role… man, the exasperation!
But let’s hold our collective hands up and admit that Xavi got it right.
With one eye on Wednesday’s El Clasico semi-final second leg, and against La Liga’s bottom club - a team that hadn’t beaten Barca in the last 20 attempts - the coach was able to make what on the face of it was a left field decision, but actually turned out to be a fantastic tactical tweak.
The centre-back was accomplished and polished in the role.
Where we’ve been used to seeing Eric panic when put under pressure by the opposition, on this occasion, perhaps with the knowledge of first-class defenders behind him, he was calmness personified. Not only that, but his passing and distribution was on point.
Where has this player been since his arrival?!
Indeed, his performance was so good, that he may well have given Xavi food for thought if Sergio Busquets decides that this season will be his last at Camp Nou.
Of course, one good game won’t make Eric a shoo-in for this position or any other, but what it does do is ensure he is part of the conversation moving forward.
Before the Elche game he was a player that the club might be thinking they’ll get a bit of money for.
Eric García's game by numbers vs. Elche:— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) April 1, 2023
100% take-ons completed
89% pass accuracy
5 passes into final ⅓
2 x possession won
1 duel won
Barcelona's new midfielder. https://t.co/Nl4lop2m75
After his commanding showing at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, that isn’t now a foregone conclusion.
Could he become an able deputy to the club captain? Will he carve out a new career for himself as a pivot? It’s certainly worth more than a cursory discussion.
He won’t play every game of course, bur after watching how he took to his responsibilities with consummate ease, only the most cynical supporter would suggest this isn’t an experiment worth pursuing.
It’s a position that doesn’t need a player to be headline grabbing, just efficient, and Eric was certainly that. First to the ball for the most part, his anticipation was as much a reason for the lack of attacking spark from Elche as anything else.
When will we next see a similar decision from Xavi? Who knows.
What we do know is that if he makes that decision again, we don’t need to worry whether Eric will cost Barcelona the game or not.
A timely reminder that a player just needs confidence for his best to be seen.