Four reasons behind Xavi’s pivot experiment at Barcelona


Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi is pictured sitting on the bench prior to the Spanish league football match between Deportivo Alaves and FC Barcelona at the Mendizorroza stadium in Vitoria on February 3, 2024.
Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

FC Barcelona were able to sustain their winning run in La Liga last weekend as they got a 3-1 victory over Deportivo Alaves. Goals from Lewandowski, Gundogan, and Roque were enough to get the full three points for the Catalans.

While the scoreline suggests an easy victory for the Catalans, Xavi had to experiment a bit to get the winning formula for this game. One of the most notable changes in this game was Andreas Christensen’s position, who played as the midfield pivot.

This decision to play the Dane in the midfield ultimately proved to be a good one for Xavi, but it is clear that Christensen is not a midfielder. However, as Mundo Deportivo has identified, there are four clear reasons why Xavi decided to play him in the middle of the field.

Firstly, the club had not been able to provide Xavi with a competent enough midfielder to replace Sergio Busquets. Oriol Romeu has been significantly below expectations since arriving at the club.

As a result, Xavi had to improvise on his available options to fill in this position, and thus experimented by playing the defender higher up on the pitch.

Secondly, Inigo Martinez had recovered for this match, and Pau Cubarsi has also been putting in some reliable performances in the middle of the defensive line. Thus, having five center-backs at his disposal, Xavi had some space to make changes to his backline, even though Kounde had to play on the right flank.

Thirdly, with a defensive-minded player in the midfield, both Gundogan and Pedri were able to operate higher up on the pitch, where they shine the best. With De Jong as the pivot, the team loses depth and attacking options.

Lastly, Barcelona have the most decisive stretch of the season ahead of them, particularly with the Champions League restarting with a tie against Napoli. Xavi might have wanted to experiment a bit with the relatively manageable game against Alaves, and get an idea of what he would get if he played Christensen in the midfield.

Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari has been covering Spanish football as a writer for Barca News Network for the last one and a half year and as an amateur football fanatic for more than 10 years. He mainly covers on and off-field happenings taking place at Barcelona including transfer news, administrative changes, match reports, and any other eventful news coming out of the club.

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