A festival of goals is just what Barcelona needed to regain their confidence after a week that derailed their ambitions for the season.
Villarreal and Athletic Club are two of the best teams in La Liga, so beating them 3-0 and 4-0 respectively was a good reminder of just how good they’re capable of playing.
It doesn’t take away the disappointment of being on the brink of elimination in the Champions League, and the pathetic performance against Real Madrid. But it does make it easier to move forward and recalibrate the team’s goals and expectations.
Against two quality teams at the top of the table, things could have gone from bad to truly ugly, had Barcelona not picked themselves up and gotten the results. As a way of apologizing to the fans, they went one further and gave us two of the best performances of the season.
Perhaps, it’s too little too late, but Xavi did finally make much-needed changes.
Sergio Busquets was dropped against Villarreal, and hopefully his inclusion in the starting lineup against Athletic Club means he’ll be back on the bench on Wednesday against Bayern Munich as well.
Going forward, he’ll be very useful as a rotation piece, but we need to see what Frenkie de Jong can do when given a run of games as the defensive midfielder.
Bayern Munich is not a throw away game. This could be an excellent test for the Dutchman.
After another impressive display, Alejandro Balde is another player who needs to get the start in Europe. He has earned it on merit.
These decisions rest with the manager, and the test is for Xavi to show he has learned these lessons for good.
Balde and Frenkie are the low hanging fruit, and must be selected above Busquets and Marcos Alonso.
If Xavi wants to earn the confidence of Joan Laporta and culers around the world that he is the coach for the future, he needs to show he can win big games consistently.
Before the World Cup, this is the last chance he will get, and it’s an important one.
Symbolically, beating Bayern Munich will help get the monkey off our backs. They are the bogey man, and if Barcelona can vanquish them, their inferiority complex may finally come to an end.
Xavi deserves the blame for why his team are on the brink of elimination with two games left in the group stage.
But he also deserves credit for the turnaround in the team’s confidence, especially when you compare his Barcelona team to the one that looked petrified just a year earlier.
At this time, it would be reasonable to sit around feeling bad for ourselves, lamenting Barcelona’s bad luck.
My heart dropped seeing the Champions League draw, comparing Barcelona’s group of death to Real Madrid’s “Europa League” opponents.
But I still believed in the talent of the team to get the job done.
I was even more worried after the international break as players, especially the defenders, dropped like flies.
But I still believed there was plenty of depth to get the job done
So what are we to make of the failure now?
Was it just an unlucky setback, and a chance for a young, but promising coach, to learn a harsh lesson?
There is still plenty to play for, and Xavi has three chances to prove himself.
For now, we need to stay united and believe that these players can fight for everything and win silverware.
Barcelona must prepare for Bayern Munich by assuming that the Victoria Plzen will give them the gift of a lifetime by beating Inter Milan. Crazier things have happened.
If it doesn’t happen, so be it, but the expectation must be that Xavi and Barcelona go into the game determined to humble a Bayern Munich team that has no good reason to respect them.
Xavi desperately needs a statement win against the Bavarian giants to show the growth of the team under his leadership.
The fanbase needs something big to uplift our spirits, and the players need to prove to themselves that they can go on the offensive and claim a Champions League victory against the best team in the group.
Barcelona can show there is still a lot to look forward to this season by seizing the opportunity in front of them on Wednesday.
But it will depend on which team shows up.
We all need a reason to believe again.