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Xavi’s Barcelona are good but they’re not great… yet

Room for improvement

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - Copa Del Rey Quarter Final Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

When the announcement was made that Xavi Hernandez was taking over the Barcelona coach’s job, there appeared to be a collective sigh of relief.

No more Koeman-esque tactics, and, perhaps, a return to the short and sharp passing game that defined Pep Guardiola’s swashbucklers at their best.

Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for, however.

Culers have to get away from using Pep’s world beaters as a yardstick for a start.

They were a ‘once in a lifetime’ team who just happened to click for a few seasons. It won’t happen again anytime soon, so the quicker supporters can understand and appreciate that, the better.

Don’t get me wrong, Xavi is building something special at Camp Nou, but it will take a fair while yet to be able to see any fruits of his labour.

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - Spanish Copa del Rey Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The green shoots are there mind. The ‘risk brings reward’ strategy can definitely be seen by all concerned, and it’s good to see the team retain some shape rather than approaching games with a ‘gung ho’ win-at-all-costs attitude.

Against Real Sociedad, Ousmane Dembele was, by a distance, the best player on the pitch, and keeping him fit, firing and hungry is essential for Xavi to drag his team back up to the elite levels they were inhabiting a few years ago.

The Frenchman is simply sensational when in the type of form he showed against La Real, but he can’t do it all himself and needs his team-mates to step up as needed.

That was never better evidenced than when, against 10 men let’s not forget, Barca, somewhat frustratingly, slowed the game right down, thereby inviting their opponents back into it.

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - Copa Del Rey Quarter Final Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

You’ll need to ask Sorloth yourselves how he missed the sitter not long afterwards, indicating to Xavi in the clearest terms that his team haven’t yet mastered the killer instinct that he wants from his teams.

Indeed, were it not for Marc-Andre ter Stegen again, the match might well have gone to extra-time and/or penalties.

Perhaps many of us, and I’ll include myself in this, are guilty of expecting too much too soon.

After all. It’s only just over a year since Xavi accepted Joan Laporta’s overtures.

That’s hardly any time at all to be able to work his magic tactically, and bring in new ideas and ways of working which will, ultimately, pay dividends for the club.

As the team continues to evolve, it’s vital they retain the support of the fan base, even if it appears they’ll have to take two steps back to move one forward at times.

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

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