It wasn’t long ago that FC Barcelona was associated with nothing but a high mountain of debt and a mega sporting crisis.
On the pitch, things went downhill rapidly with Lionel Messi (34) and then without him. The 2: 8 against FC Bayern in the summer of 2020 marked a low point, and the performances of the Catalans often triggered malice and ridicule at national level. Or just pity if you have a heart for the club yourself.
But in recent months, a new spirit has developed around Barça, in which coach Xavi (42) has played a major role. If one associates his predecessors Ronald Koeman and Quique Setién almost exclusively with failure, the new man on the sidelines has formed a unit. The high point before the international break: the 4-0(!) away win at big rivals Real Madrid.
What a statement! What a gala performance!
Barça no longer has title ambitions in the league after the weak preliminary round. Ten remaining games are not enough to make up the twelve-point deficit to Real. With the exception of the Clasico debacle, coach Carlo Ancelotti’s team has been playing too consistently this season. In the Europa League (quarter-finals on April 7th and 14th against Eintracht Frankfurt; editor’s note), on the other hand, Barça is the favorite for the pot.
Photo: JAVIER SORIANO/AFP
Even more important for those responsible: the path back to old strength will be consistently continued, the current high form should only be an intermediate step. Planning for the new season is more advanced than at any other top European club. The Xavi-Barça of the future is taking shape!
Im Tor Marc-André ter Stegen (29) remains untouchable. The German keeper still has a contract until 2025 and has been playing for Barça for eight years now. The ex-Gladbacher had the smallest share in the sometimes dramatic bankruptcies in the pre-Xavi period.
The transfers are not fixed yet, but with some certainty half of them are in place defensive line next season will consist of players who are currently under contract with Champions League winners Chelsea. The Dane Andreas Christensen (25) is considered a safe newcomer, and his club-mate from Chelsea, Cesar Azpilicueta (32), is said to come from London on a free transfer. Eric García (21) belongs to the future anyway, veteran Jordi Alba (33), who has been at home in Barcelona for ten years now, should continue to work on the left side.
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Im midfield Sergio Busquets (33) will think and direct at least one more season, Frenkie de Jong (24), the young stars Gavi (17) and Pedri (19) and probably also Franck Kessié (25), who should come from AC Milan, will take care of it for creativity and playfulness.
Im attack the winter additions Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (32) and Ferran Torres (22) have proven themselves in a very short time. They will also score in attack next season. Adama Traoré (who came from Wolverhampton) also quickly found his place in the team. And: young star Ansu Fati will be a serious option again. The 19-year-old winger recently returned to team training after a long muscle injury. In addition, the Brazilian Raphinha (25) from Leeds United will come – and what will actually happen to Ousmane Dembélé (24)?
The ex-Dortmunder was already considered a safe departure, but suddenly the Frenchman whirls like in the best BVB times. He has prepared six goals in the past four league games, two in the triumph in the Clasico.
Whether Dembélé goes or not: Xavi will not have sleepless nights. He already has enough options for his starting XI…