This was supposed to be the match that turned FC Barcelona’s season around. Instead, it sank it further.
In the grand scheme, losing the Spanish Supercup was no big deal. However, losing it in resounding fashion to Real Madrid underscores the deficiencies in Xavi’s set up.
Barcelona has not built on a La Liga winning campaign as expected. The defense looks miles worse than that impregnable fortress that was built last season.
The team concedes more than ever, and yet in attack, they have been missing way too many chances. As a result, performances have worsened. And Xavi’s job is in genuine danger for the first time.
His defenders will point to extenuating circumstances. Injuries to key players have played a part. Marc-André ter Stegen has been out for a while, and while Iñaki Peña is not a bad goalkeeper, he has not impressed as much as some hoped.
Gavi’s injury has been felt perhaps most of all, as Barcelona’s midfield has lacked bite without him.
Xavi has also not been supported by the best signings, as Oriol Romeu proved an inadequate replacement for Sergio Busquets. Although the Catalans did sign İlkay Gündoğan in the summer, who was coming off winning the treble.
Regardless, pundits and fans have not been impressed by Xavi’s own work either. The results are not there, and the tactics and choices made have had their fair share of problems as well.
Despite what he’s won as a coach and what he did as a player, there is a limit to the patience the club has for Xavi’s reign.
Right now, it’s fair to say he’s on thin ice. However, the question is always if there is a clear upgrade out there that’s freely available and ready to go. Paying to sack him would also prove expensive for a club on a tight budget.
The question now is how he reacts to this adversity. It’s clearly the darkest days of Xavi’s time as a coach.