He hasn’t been at the Camp Nou for a month and Xavi looks out tonight to the party, perhaps, more transcendental, from his short sports career as a coach. He inherits a dry and ineffective team that walks meditatively through Europe for more than six years when he was still a player. Now him Barça it is on the most dangerous ledge.
If he does not win at Benfica tonight, he will no longer depend on himself on the last day visiting Bayern in Munich and the chaos, both sporting and financial, could fall on a club in need and anguish. In need of sporting calm (going to the round of 16 would give it until February, at least) and also in need of the 20 million euros budgeted by the Laporta board, counting that the team would reach the quarterfinals.
“Talking is easy, but we are not in a moment to show chest. Barça is not”
It is a delicate border for which Xavi is not responsible, but he must manage. The plan is clear. Open ends without having pure ends since Ilias (sanctioned) and Abde (not registered), are low, pending if he recovers the injured Dembélé. Permanent protagonism with the ball. A defined model, based on the 4-3-3, although it can use different suits for the same idea, but without the adequate resources. “Here I can say that we are much better than Benfica. But we must prove it”said Xavi.
The routine of European tragedy
Words, at least in Europe, no longer have any value for a club that long ago abandoned the elite, watching its team bleed to death in cities that are already cursed for Barcelona fans: Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon, Paris…. “Talking is easy, but we are not in a moment to show chest. Barça is not,” said Xavi, who combines the message of illusion (“I am very positive, I visualize that we will play well and pass, we have to go on the attack and be brave “) with the deepest realism, as if it were Koeman, but using, yes, other words protected in his header script. “We are Barça!” But you cannot, nor should you take your chest out, the Catalans are accustomed to the routine of European tragedies.
And that the team, on day 1 with Xavi, hinted at interesting things. Details that later did not materialize as the coach himself wished. At least, and it’s already a lot, the atmosphere around Barça has changed.
In just two weeks there have been more moments of illusion than dejection. Any argument (the presentation of Xavi himself or of Alves, rescued, at 38 years of unemployment, although it cannot be resorted to until January) was enough to recover the lost smile. The atmosphere changed and the look on the team also. It is a much more comprehensive look as any project startup requires. It has changed until the Camp Nou, abandoning, for now, the wakefulness climate that has presided over the last few years.
“I had never seen a Camp Nou like this. I was amazed on Saturday by how it encourages and how everything feels. It seems that we have changed fields”
It has mutated so much that not even Xavi recognizes himself within that temple. “I had never seen a Camp Nou like this. I was amazed on Saturday by how it encourages and how everything feels. It seems that we have changed fields.” Loud and festive, despite the fact that the game in the derby declined in the final half hour, suffering the same as with Koeman, but with more fortune. And says Xavi not feel any vertigo before the exam.
“I sleep more than before”
Guardiola, who made his debut with that 4-0 against Wisla de Cracovia in the previous Champions League (2008), was given much more margin than Xavi, now clinging to an exciting gang of young people who require the help of the ‘cows sacred ‘to bridge the abyss of early elimination.
Benfica, guided by the memory of Lisbon 3-0 that already provoked Laporta’s first attempt to kick Koeman out, is fearsome. “It is a great team, it has a soul, level centrals, a talented midfield and very physical forwards,” Xavi warned, who acknowledged that “I sleep more than before, perhaps because I am more tired.” For years, Barça has had insomnia. He lives in anguish and needs the ball to attack and also to defend himself.