Xavi Hernandez had a glittering career as a player; he won all he could at club and international level. Now he is out to make his mark in coaching and a few years into the business, there isn’t a shadow of a doubt that Xavi will make a big one. In a season Spanish coaches have done well, Xavi will throw his cap in there, where Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Xabi Alonso and Unai Emery stand.
However, Barcelona’s performances this season, and even last season under Xavi show that while the potential is undeniable, the former Barcelona midfielder still lacks the cutting edge. He has failed to inspire his team a lot in the Champions League, where they played teams of repute, and he even failed at the Europa League stage for two consecutive seasons. This is quite understandable for a man who was coaching in the Middle East then plucked and placed at the helm of one of Europe’s biggest names. One attribute that can’t be taken from Xavi is his technical astuteness. With that, he has established a rhythm at Barcelona since taking over from Ronald Koeman and his team seems to be coasting towards the La Liga title, going into the 31st round of league matches with an 11-point lead. The 2022-23 La Liga betting odds to win at Wincomparator have in most situations gone Barcelona’s way this season, and it is all clear, with the Catalans boasting the most wins and best defence this season.
Confidence in team
Xavi will be credited for taking over during one of Barcelona’s lowest moments, with the club struggling financially, and after the players that gave the team a name in recent years departed. The biggest credit for Xavi’s time at the team is instilling confidence in a young team and that ‘no fear factor’ is what will lift the team, at least domestically. However, and also for financial reasons, Barcelona need to get a grip of themselves when facing the top sides in Europe, and while that needs Xavi to build the character in his team, he also has to get support from the management, in terms of signing top, experienced players for the job. While he played for the team at one of its most exciting periods, employing sleek passing and movement, Xavi as a manager has struggled to instill that, putting a lot of effort on defending and in most such scenarios winning by a goal or producing a goalless draw. This probably is the reason Barcelona had a tough time across two legs in the Champions League against Bayern Munich. To put this in context, Barcelona have lost more matches in Europe than they have done in La Liga. There has been talk of Lionel Messi sealing an emotional return to Barcelona and this could be rousing. However, in the Catalans’ financial health the PSG forward may fail to show up at Camp Nou, and Xavi needs to have a plan B for this. Even if Messi returns, Xavi could still need to bring in players to complement Messi’s qualities.
It is not in doubt that Xavi has done well for Barcelona in his stint so far, but there are a lot of other forces that are needed for him to succeed. The management has to sort out the financial issues. Xavi has to get his signings right, and the solidity of the defence has to be adopted in attack with the needed precision.