On the one hand, not a whole lot has changed for Xavi and his team in terms of the quality of play on the pitch.
On the other hand, after losing to Girona, Antwerp, and even Club America, Barca desperately needed a win, and they got it.
This is how things start to turn around. Barcelona needed to dig deep and find a way to come out on top.
After going down 1-0 at half-time to a team of players, and a coach, who couldn’t make it on the Barca B team, Xavi looked defeated heading into the locker room.
Time for another rousing half-time speech like the one he gave just a few weeks back to beat the worst team in the league?
Perhaps that’s just what he did, and maybe that’s all he can do at this point. Barcelona isn’t going to win games just because they’re Barcelona.
Las Palmas isn’t going to bow down. They’re going to take their shot at taking down the Spanish champions. That’s what it’s like when you’re defending the crown, and you have to show up every day ready to fight to stay on top.
The first half really was a horror show, with Xavi seemingly gesturing from the sideline the different ways that he players may decide to attack. It’s just so slow, and so predictable so much of the time.
In the second half, the energy level was up, and they showed some determination.
That’s all it really takes against an opponent like this, when the talent deficit is so big.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. So often, Barcelona looks low on energy, and uninterested in competing. When they get the kick in the rear end, they come alive, and it’s enough to at least beat teams in the lower half of the table.
But for me, Vitor Roque was the true sign of hope in his brief cameo appearance.
He didn’t light the world on fire, and even missed a wide open chance, much to the hidden delight of Robert Lewandowski I’m sure, but he did show that he has a unique profile that Barcelona could really benefit from.
None of the forwards on this team, from the center and from the wing alike, seem to have the ability to get behind defenders. This is true with the ball at their feet, and off the ball.
Roque is a vertical threat who spends his time on the shoulder of the defensive line, asking the center backs if they can keep up. And the answer is, they can’t.
It’s menacing. It gives the appearance that danger could strike at any moment. It’s something that Barcelona has been missing, and it makes them very easy to defend against.
Going forward, I want more Roque, even if he’s raw and will need time and patience to hit his stride.
Barca needs to inject life and pace into their system.
No more side to side and back. Always with an eye forward to break lines, and get in behind.
With the Supercopa and Copa del Rey coming up, it’s a perfect time to get the new signing some minutes.
The past month was abysmal, but Barcelona can regain their form just in time to claim silverware.
And also to position themselves to be competitive in La Liga and the Champions League.
There’s no time like the present to try something new. And to give a new face a chance to seize the opportunity of a lifetime.