Xavi’s new Barcelona experiment continues to flourish – report

Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi attends a training session with teammates on the eve of the UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg football match between Napoli and Barcelona at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium on February 20, 2024.
Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images

Tactical adjustments are key for any team competing at the top level, including FC Barcelona. La Blaugrana have been left this season without all their positions possessing a specialist. As a consequence, Barcelona have had to rely on alternative tactics to compensate for those vulnerabilities.

One of the major changes that was needed included an alternative to Sergio Busquets, who left in the summer. Unable to find a direct replacement due to their financial issues, Barcelona and Xavi had to make do with the players already at their disposal.

However, none of the midfielders that Xavi deployed in that position were able to provide the stability that the coach was looking for. Ultimately, it was only through the incorporation of Andreas Christensen, naturally a central defender, as a pivot that allowed Barça to regain their long-lost control.

According to AS, this experiment and tactical tweak has been working well so far. While he does not bombard his teammates with his outlandish creative abilities, he does however instil a sense of security. Through his defensive work, he is able to thwart oppositions from transitioning into counterattacks too easily.

Moreover, his presence allows Frenkie De Jong and other more advanced midfielders to play without fear. While acting as a more defensive outlet himself, De Jong is left without being able to showcase his most prominent abilities. Now, however, the Dutchman plays with much more freedom and finesse attached to his game.

Furthermore, AS highlights how tactical tweaks such as this have allowed Barcelona to generate great seasons in the past. From the times of Johan Cruyff, to even the likes of Rijkaard and Ernesto Valverde, small adjustments have led to great achievements.

Now, in Xavi’s time at the club, the Spaniard will be betting on this tweak to work out. With Christensen’s balance, De Jong, Pedri, and Ilkay Gundogan are given room to play their own brand of football more regularly. Even the results speak for themselves ever since Xavi has entrusted the Dane to take over the pivot role.

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