Xavi’s special plan to help Barcelona overcome Athletic Club

Date:

Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi attends a training session at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on January 30, 2024.
Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Up next for FC Barcelona is a dangerous trip to the Lion’s den over in Bilbao. With Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Club waiting, La Blaugrana will need to be at their very best. However, Barcelona have already had some very complicated results against this rather formidable opponent.

As a result, it seems that Xavi Hernandez does not want to see his team falter to the same mistakes. While Barcelona do possess a strong team, they need a positive result to take advantage of Real Madrid’s recent collapse against Valencia in La Liga.

To do this, according to SPORT, Xavi has a few things in mind that his team has to remain completely mindful of. Athletic Club remains one of the league’s most intense sides, and at home, they will be even more so. Xavi acknowledges this, and has had to prepare his team accordingly.

Given their reliance on pressure and intensity, the Barcelona coach highlights their weaknesses. Through the use of this intensity, Athletic often leave great gaps and spaces in behind. As a result, Barcelona need to exploit those spaces and make runs in behind to expose them.

Xavi has reportedly given specific instructions to the likes of Pedri, Frenkie De Jong, and Ilkay Gundogan about not letting the ball just keep circulating in the central regions. Instead, they are asked to make vertical passes that can expose the space left in behind the Athletic Club defensive line.

Just as Raphinha, Christensen, and others did against Getafe in the last victory for Barcelona, the players will once again need to do so. However, Athletic Club is a different animal to tame, and Barcelona will need to be prepared to play at their best levels.

Even the defenders such as Pau Cubarsi, Inigo Martinez, Joao Cancelo, and others who possess good passing range will need to help out. It is only through exploiting Athletic Club’s weaknesses that Barcelona will be able to get the three points that they do desperately want from this outing.

Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun is a life-long fan of FC Barcelona and an avid enjoyer of all things Blaugrana. Having fallen in love with the club for the way they defined football for him, he now spends his time watching games, analyzing the happenings in them, and digesting any and everything related to his beloved Catalan club. He also writes as an author for Barca News Network hoping to deliver the latest updates to his fellow ‘culés’.

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