Xavi and the failed Barcelona Reunion: What went wrong?

Xavi and the failed Barcelona Reunion: What went wrong?

Pulse Sports Team 16:59 - 20.02.2024

Xavi has announced that he would resign as Barcelona's manager at the end of the season

Xavi Hernandez had a message for the seemingly emotional fans at Camp Nou when he signed off his glittering playing career with a second European treble in 2015. As a result of the lackluster tenure of former captain Ronald Koeman, the iconic midfielder made a triumphant return in November 2021 to aid his struggling club.

Taking charge as La Blaugrana’s manager, the 44-year-old tactician secured the 2022/23 La Liga crown in his debut full season, alongside clinching the Spanish Super Cup. However, despite this initial success, the golden touch did not extend to long-term glory. Barcelona struggled to replicate their early form, which was built on astute defending, with the Catalonians only conceding 20 goals on their path to La Liga triumph last season.

A series of high-scoring defeats characterized the 2023/24 season, including a crushing 4-2 loss to Catalan neighbors, and surprise title-contenders Girona. After losing 4-2 to Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, Villarreal suffered a devastating 5-3 defeat in round 22 of the La Liga season to end the season on a sour note.

After these defeats, Xavi announced that he would resign as Barcelona's manager at the end of the season, sending shockwaves through Spanish football. Following the news of the former midfielder's unexpected departure, iLOTBET explores three factors that may have contributed to his sudden downturn at La Liga's most prestigious club.

Restructured Hierarchy

Alemany and Cruyff departed Barcelona under undisclosed circumstances. In their absence, former midfielder Anderson Luiz de Souza, popularly known as ‘Deco’, had taken complete charge of the club’s transfers. However, Deco’s reign has been faced with persistent allegations of a strained relationship with Xavi, with reports suggesting clashes over summer signings, including the unsuccessful pursuit of highly-rated midfielder, Martin Zubimendi.

Xavi lacked the same supportive network he relied on in his early days at Barcelona, a factor which appears to also impact his seemingly unsuccessful spell at the club.

Regression Analysis

The significant decline in form among a majority of Barcelona players this season strongly suggests a misstep in the individual making crucial personnel and tactical decisions.

Xavi’s system at Barcelona has not evolved; instead, it devolved into a shapeless confusion. However, during Barcelona’s title-winning campaign last season, Xavi settled on a box midfield with only one wide player, seeking central numerical superiority.

The departure of Sergio Busquets (to join Messi at Inter Miami) – and Oriol Romeu’s unsuccessful attempt to replace him – along with key injuries to Barcelona’s remaining midfielders, has often deprived Xavi of this tactical option.

The Spanish Press

On numerous occasions, Xavi has emphasized that this relentless environment makes Barcelona “the most challenging club to manage in the world.” Ultimately, the pressure became overwhelming.

“It’s a demanding job,” Xavi admitted to clarify his departure. “It wears you down. In Barcelona, you always feel undervalued, and mistreated… that’s how the club operates. From a mental health perspective, it’s tough too. I’m a positive guy, but the battery levels keep running out… and at some point, you realize there’s no point in staying.”

However, the iconic midfielder concluded by hinting at a possible return for another managerial stint at his beloved club sometime in the future.

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