Xavi’s pivot gamble seems to pay off for Barcelona – report

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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

One metric in which FC Barcelona always puts a lot of focus on is control. This ‘control’ of a game is essentially what allows the Catalan giants to play their football at its best possible level. However, Barcelona have not been able to control a lot of their games this season, and much of that has come down to one specific reason.

A lack of a proper pivot continues to hold back this team, and Xavi is aware of it. Without that positional pillar in midfield, the team is vulnerable during counterattacks and look always clueless when attacking themselves. For this reason, and due to certain unavailabilities, Xavi decided to go with a rather non-traditional approach.

Deploying Andreas Christensen as the team’s primary pivot, Xavi opted to use the Danish central defender as a surprise package. However, as highlighted by SPORT, it would seem that Xavi’s gamble and experiment seem to have payed off.

The initial minutes saw the Dane struggle to get a proper rhythm in. It seemed like Alaves had the player restricted to back passes and unable to carve open any space to provide any vertical progression. Along came Frenkie De Jong, who began to help out the team’s new pivot.

Not too long after, Christensen grew into the game and became a reliable destroyer for Barcelona. Often making crucial interceptions and winning back balls, he allowed Barcelona to quickly convert negative counters into positive transitions. With 55 touches and a 91% pass success rate, Christensen finally established a rhythm for himself.

This new experiment now opens up a completely different route for Xavi’s Barcelona. While Oriol Romeu seems to have lost his place to a new entry, Christensen now offers the Catalan coach a whole new dimension of possibilities to play around with. His defensive reliability in particular could be a key asset for this Barcelona team to play around.

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