Sunday, September 25, 2022

Xavi’s Revolution: What have been the secrets behind Barcelona’s recent purple patch?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, La Liga 12 Sep 2022

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Briefly climbing to the top of the La Liga table on Saturday evening thanks to a routine 4-0 romp away at Cadiz, Barcelona appear to be riding quite the wave of momentum in Catalonia.

While the Spanish giants might have been dealing with some public financial issues over the past 12 months, Xavi’s side are in the midst of an on-field purple patch.

Opening their Champions League adventure last week with a thumping 5-1 victory against Viktoria Plzeň at the Nou Camp, Barca now have their sights set on mounting a genuine title charge.

Eventually finishing 14 points adrift of Los Blancos last season and coming under real scrutiny, Xavi’s men have certainly come flying out of the traps this time around.

With the mood in Catalonia appearing to be the highest it has been in recent times, what have been the secrets behind Xavi’s revolution?

Lewandowski – The man spearheading Barca’s resurge

With Barcelona’s worrying financial issues stealing plenty of headlines across Europe, many were left stunned to see Xavi’s side really break the bank this summer.

While the Spanish icons might have welcomed the likes of Jules Kounde, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessié to Catalonia over the past couple of months, it is another heavyweight arrival who has made a remarkable immediate impact.

Coming off the bench away at Cadiz over the weekend and taking just eight minutes to get himself on the scoresheet, Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly the man spearheading Barca’s revival.

Making the decision to end his record-breaking eight-year stay with German champions Bayern Munich this summer, the Polish superstar has enjoyed a free-scoring start to life in La Liga.

Bagging 50 goals in 46 games last season as he helped Bayern win a 10th straight Bundesliga title, Lewandowski has once again hit the ground running.

In fact, along with opening his Champions League account last week as the 33-year-old racked up a hat-trick against Viktoria Plzeň at the Nou Camp, the 132-cap international has already racked up nine goals from his opening six appearances across all competitions.

A new-found defensive resolve

Signing off the 2021/22 campaign by mustering just a single clean sheet from any of their final six La Liga appearances, Xavi had made it clear that defensive resolve was top of his agenda this time around.

While Barca’s stellar attacking options might have once again stolen plenty of headlines in their 4-0 romp away at Cadiz over the weekend, fans around Catalonia should be excited by their side’s sugged performances at the back.

Boosted by the return of defensive talisman Gerard Pique as the Spanish international made his first start of the season in Andalusia, Xavi has been vocal about his side’s new-found sternness defensively.

Watching 18-year-old homegrown starlet Alejandro Balde gain plenty of plaudits since bursting onto the scene this year, Barcelona have conceded just a single strike from their opening five top-flight battles.

Likewise, recording three La Liga clean sheets on the spin, this is just the second time over the past 18 months that Xavi’s side have managed to go a trio of consecutive appearances without picking the ball out of their own net.

Keeping hold of de Jong

While the likes of Erling Haaland and Casemiro might have secured their own blockbuster Premier League moves this summer, it was a certain Frenkie de Jong who found himself at the heart of a real saga.

However, despite Barcelona accepting Manchester United’s £72million bid for the Dutch international, de Jong made it abundantly clear that he had no interest in making the move away from Spain.

Although there might still remain plenty of questions regarding deferred wages that the 25-year-old is owed, the former Ajax playmaker has only continued to show his class this season.

With Xavi making it clear from the start that de Jong has a huge part to play in his first-team plans this year, the 44-cap international has been at the heart of Barca’s summer success.

Offering Barca some youth at the heart of their midfield and forming an eye-catching trio alongside both Gavi and Pedri, he also bagged his first La Liga strike of the season away at Cadiz over the weekend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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