Putting in another rugged display over the weekend as they clinched a 1-0 victory away at Girona, Barcelona are in the midst of what has become a remarkable domestic flurry this season.
While Xavi’s superstars might have eventually finished 13 points adrift of Los Blancos and recapturing their La Liga crown, the Spanish icons have made a string of improvements this time around.
Although Barca might have endured another public Champions League nightmare prior to the World Cup’s winter break, Xavi’s side now have their sights set on completing a famous domestic sweep.
With the mood around the Nou Camp at the highest it has been in recent memory, Barcelona now open February tipped as a runaway pick to claim a first La Liga title since 2019.
Laying down what was a stunning marker in the Middle East as they lifted this year’s Super Cup thanks to an iconic 3-0 romp against Real Madrid on January 6th we have taken a look at the secrets behind Xavi’s success this season.
A campaign built on defensive steel
While Barcelona might have become renowned for their free-scoring displays during Pep Guardiola’s tenure in charge, there is no doubt that Xavi has brought a new defensive steel to the Spanish giants.
Although the Catalonia-based icons might have come crashing out of last year’s Champions League following another woeful European adventure, Barca have gained a real reputation for their rugged displays at the back.
Claiming another 1-0 victory away at Girona over the weekend and briefly widening their buffer over Los Blancos to six points, Xavi’s side have now recorded a clean sheet in each of their last four straight domestic appearances.
With new recruits such as Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde making an immediate impact since arriving at the Nou Camp, Barca have remarkably shipped just six top-flight strikes so far this season.
Likewise, with ex-Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso putting pen to paper on a new deal after enjoying an eye-catching start to life in Catalonia, the backbone of Xavi’s success has come thanks to their defensive resolve.
A youthful revolution
Although the likes of attacking superstar Robert Lewandowski might have continued to shine since making the move to Spain last summer, it has been Xavi’s youngsters who have stolen plenty of the headlines this season.
With Pedri bagging the winner away at Girona over the weekend and bagging his third post-World Cup goal, the Spanish international has become critical in Barcelona’s charge for history in 2023.
Once again gaining a string of plaudits out in Qatar over the winter, the 20-year-old has also formed a hugely impressive relationship alongside fellow homegrown talent Gavi over the past 12 months.
Along with being glad to see 20-year-old sensation Ansu Fati make his return from a long-term injury issue, Ronald Araujo also finds his stock at a red-hot high after cementing his spot in Xavi’s first-team plans.
With Xavi making a key part of his philosophy to slash Barcelona’s aging squad, the La Liga leaders are clearly showing no signs of a struggle after watching the likes of Gerard Pique leave the club.
Dembele is coming of age
Although Lewandowski might be leading the chase to claim Barcelona’s Golden Boot this season, Ousmane Dembele has quickly cemented his spot as a real fan favourite in Catalonia.
While the former Borussia Dortmund star might have initially struggled to find his feet after arriving at the Nou Camp five years ago, the 25-year-old is enjoying a real Spanish romp this season.
Already mustering 11 goal contributions, it is no surprise that Barca are desperate to tie the 35-cap international down to a new long-term deal.
However, while Dembele might have only continued to receive a string of praise on either side of the World Cup break, Xavi would have been left heartbroken to see his attacking talisman suffer another injury setback over the weekend.
Limping off with a suspected hamstring issue midway through the first-half of Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Girona, it appears that the French international is in a race against time to feature in Barca’s Europa League showdown against Manchester United on February 16th.
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