Xavi, the manager: The man behind Barcelona’s resurgence
In this article, Sportco will articulate how Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez’s arrival as a manager at the Catalan giants changed the club’s fortunes.
|Clubs managed||Al-Sadd SC|
|Style of play||4-3-3|
One of their own
The arrival of Xavi Hernandez as Barcelona manager ignited hopes and optimism for the Catalans; earlier, Barcelona did not know what path they were following just in their misery. Gloomy clouds surrounded the Camp Nou as they suffered loss after loss.
Fans, board, and players were frustrated as all were in a state of dismay. Ronald Koeman was sacked after facing consecutive defeats, which left Barcelona near the relegation zone.
Then Joan Laporta and his board appointed Xavi Hernandez as their new manager, who came as a ray of hope. His appointment saw positive and negative feedback. Many termed him an inexperienced manager because he only managed at Qatar.
But Xavi knew Barcelona inside out and what was really happening in the club, how the club collapsed. He was here to correct the flaws and make their status high again. He fixed many deep-rooted problems at the club and what was promised that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Xavi Effect
And if you have watched the games, you would have seen how Barcelona changed their entire playing system. Relentless pressing with all the players tracking back and hence the positive result.
This year Barcelona have collected 37 points from 16 games, and they are now on 12 games unbeaten streak. These records are testament to his success at Barcelona, and how the players adapted to his style says a lot about how he tactically influenced his players.
As Xavi has built Barcelona once again into a force to be reckoned with, we analyze his tactics and how Barcelona has changed their play system.
When Lionel Messi was in Barcelona, the game used to revolve around him as he was the one who had to pull all the strings.
For many seasons, he was top-scorer and assister of Barcelona, but when he left the Spanish Giants, they lost a marquee player who held Barcelona together.
And Barcelona were torn apart and were in a state of dilemma, but Xavi came and picked those puzzles, and started sticking them again, now the team are in their resurrection phase but they will get their sooner or later.
Xavi Tactics as Barcelona manager
Xavi’s system involves a 4-3-3 line-up, which focuses on possession-based play. In this formation, the full-backs invert with wingers or central midfielders. Xavi prefers his players to play in wide areas and create overloads.
The idea behind this system will help them outnumber opponents or play an incisive passing to isolate opposition in place and suddenly switch play, creating space for the unmarked players to cause a threat for opponents.
During the build-up, Barcelona have started dictating the game from full-backs under Xavi. At the same time, the central midfielder will drop back, and full-backs will have the freedom to drop deep with wingers as this allows the team to move further together in the pitch with two touch passing.
Xavi wants his players to maintain proximity during build-ups as it will help in tiki-taka, but it also invites tremendous pressure from opponents.
The players are used to playing under Xavi’s system, so they eventually find gaps, resulting in counter-striker as the striker takes spontaneous sprints in behind.
Full-backs make their typical runs, along with winger the holding midfielder is always there to cover their position. This makes them slightly more effective during attacks.
Barcelona has pacy full-backs who can overrun opposition’s full-backs while winger has space to cut-inside and switch-play to showcase quicker and vertical passes.
When out of possession, Barcelona press relentlessly and change to a 4-1-3-2 shape. They allow space in between instead of counter-pressing, although this gives space to opponent players and helps them overload.
However, the team likes to keep opponents out wide and overload again, allowing Barcelona to counter-press.
The central midfielder will come out wide to maintain proximity and help them on the counter-press while wingers track back and diligently stop the opposition from creating overloads.
This side under Xavi has been far better out of possession, as they counter-press with great intensity. Barcelona have done the second most successful pressing in the league.
The Spanish giants have improved massively under Xavi, and the fans, the board are hoping for a more positive result in the future because they have great trust in Xavi as a manager, who will make this club a force once again.