Xavi’s pupils confirmed against Pumas the good sensations of the preseason and will arrive launched at the start of the League
Barcelona is back. The team led by Xavi Hernández signed an almost perfect match at the Joan Gamper Trophy, beating Pumas 6-0 with good performances from the new signings and closed a dream preseason. The illusion has returned to the Camp Nou, the azulgranas already believe that this could be their year and they are scared a few days before the start of the League.
«Everything went smoothly tonight, I am very happy for the good game and for the fans, who were excited. This is the way”, assured Xavi after an almost perfect night. Barça presented the credentials that he has been accumulating over the last few weeks. And it is that the preseason has been one more reason to unleash euphoria in a club that has gone in just one year from absolute ruin, Messi’s departure included, to the belief that anything is possible. You could sign Lewandowski, Raphinha, Koundé, Dembélé and whoever was needed. That is the feeling after six games in which the illusion has been ‘in crescendo’ until it overflowed in the Gamper.
After the game against Pumas Xavi could not hide that satisfaction. “We are in a good dynamic, the sensations are good,” he said. Wow they are! The Barcelona of this beginning of the course is a team that has recovered mordant in the face of the rival goal. The signings of Raphinha, Lewandowski and Dembélé have returned the fang to a group that in the preseason itself has gone from less to more as the reinforcements were incorporated into the Barça discipline.
There is no better proof of this than the debut after the holidays against Olot. Xavi’s men kept their essence and, how could it be otherwise, dominated the clash but ran into an alarming lack of punch. Up to 21 shots signed the azulgrana in a game that ended 1-1 and that highlighted the lack of a ‘9’ that marked differences. Lewandowski was squeezing Bayern Munich by then to force him out and at Barça they had the proof of why the arrival of the Pole was necessary.
That day without too much filming kicked off a preseason that was going to have its high point in the United States. Barça traveled with numerous open fronts in the transfer market and was going to close practically all of them one after another. He passed over Inter Miami already with Raphinha stellar by winning 6-0. The Brazilian appeared in society, played 45 minutes and went to the bench with two assists, a goal and the unequivocal feeling that a different player had landed, capable of contributing a lot in the attack zone and with a gift to be decisive in the last meters. The former Leeds player was the best news in a clash in which Ansu Fati, Dembélé and even Memphis Depay, a player sentenced to the exit ramp, shone.
All-in in Las Vegas
Then came the ‘D-day’. The Las Vegas classic was a new high for Barça. Xavi’s men beat Real Madrid again and did so in a clash in which they were clearly superior. “We have been better, I have come to enjoy being on the bench,” said the Catalan coach that day. It is not for less, his team besieged the eternal rival at times and ended up prevailing, already with Lewandowski on the pitch, thanks to a solitary goal from Raphinha from outside the area. By then, Barça was already a team that dominated matches with the ball but was also capable of alternating it with the vertigo generated by the new signings. The proof is the 16 shots against Madrid in a game in which he barely had 48% possession. Something was changing.
The classic was the summit of a preseason that continued with a draw against Juventus in which Dembélé earned his place in the starting eleven with two goals, with another victory against the New York Red Bulls and finally with the presentation against Pumas. Barça will arrive at the start of the League with a well-oiled machine and a fairly recognizable eleven. Busquets, Pedri, Gavi, Dembélé, Raphinha and Lewandowski have earned the title and it only remains to be seen how Xavi solves the sudoku that he has on the defensive plot. Koundé or Araujo could play on the right side, which would open a way for Eric García, Christensen or even Piqué to fight for a position in the center of defense. It is the only doubt in a team that has done its homework in the preseason.