The reasons for Barça that drive Xavi’s “moment to dream”

It has been Barça’s best week this season. Not only did they reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League after beating Naples (3-1), but they silenced the Metropolitano with an incontestable victory over Atlético (0-3), which certifies their reaction in the League.

He is second again, something that has not happened since matchday eight, and has recovered the vital signs of his game, symbolized in the hands of Ter Stegen and in Lewandowski’s goals. Madrid remains the leader and eight points ahead, while the PSG of Luis Enrique, Mbappé and Dembélé looms threateningly on the European road to Wembley.

But Xavi is clear. “We are in the best moment of the season. It is a time to dream. Why not? I have told the players not to rule out anything,” said the ambitious Barça coach.

Ter Stegen passes the ball during Atlético-Barça at the Metropolitano. / Bernat Armangue / AP

Barça has gone up to four consecutive games without conceding a goal, definitive proof that it has recovered one of the hallmarks that made it League champion. Ter Stegen He made, for example, two memorable saves against Atlético to show that he is already close to his best level, despite the fact that he is seen to hesitate more than usual with his feet. But the German has been fundamental in the team’s reaction, which has sealed its goal against Getafe (4-0), Athletic (0-0), Mallorca (1-0) and Atlético (0-3). “We are much better in defense, with a high defensive line. We have more balance,” said Xavi in ​​the Metropolitano press room. He has found that balance with Christensen mid-center. O sin Christensen, that he missed the duel with Atlético at the last minute due to “some discomfort in his Achilles tendon.” Barça is, furthermore, a much better structured team. “We don’t lose so many balls that mean transitions or counterattacks from the opposing team,” stressed Xavi, indicating that this is a Barcelona team that is “more solvent and more generous and supportive at work.”

Sergi Roberto, Gündogan and Lewandowski protest a referee’s decision during the Atlético-Barça match at the Metropolitano. / Bernat Armangue / AP

Ter Stegen, back. Koundé, and the best version of him, on the right flank of the defense. Gündogan directing the team’s play with absolute clairvoyance. Lewandowski being Lewandowski. Quality minutes from Sergi Roberto, whether coming off the bench or as a starter. Araujo, much more forceful and solid than before. And the most decisive Raphinha. Little by little, Xavi has been joining those ‘sacred cows’ that had had a more than evident drop in their performance. “Yes, yes, everyone has taken a step forward. We are talking about brilliant and excellent versions of each of these players. Ter Stegen, Koundé, Araujo, Robert, Gündogan… Looking back, they have all played a great game,” Xavi admitted. “A great game as a team and individually,” he added.

Pau Cubarsí tries to stop Memphis before Sergi Roberto in Atlético-Barça in the Metropolitano. / Bernat Armangue / AP

What of Pau Cubarsí is truly crazy. In two months, a very high-level power plant simmering in La Masia has exploded. Slow and, at the same time, dizzying because he has already been called up by the senior Spanish team. He is 17 years old and gives off an air of defense that has been installed in the axis of the Barça defense all his life. The bravery of Morata, Memphis, Griezmann or whoever they put in front of him. He did not need the coach or resort to Lamine Yamal, the other teenager (16 years old), who has normalized the extraordinary to win in Madrid. He entered with 0-2 on the scoreboard. Be the best in an attack where Lewandowski, Raphinha or João Félix also coexist. Behind those two flags emerge players like Héctor Fort, impeccable game of the left-handed back being the right back as he is. “Héctor has been brilliant. He is very strong physically, he does not complicate things, he does not invent. He plays easily, he plays what he sees and that is not his usual position. He is not afraid of failing, he wants to succeed,” he said. EITHER Fermin, a different interior that a year ago played in the First RFEF. Without forgetting either the league debut of Marc Casadó, a 20-year veteran. “We are competing and playing difficult games, with kids who are youthful. 16 and 17 years old, but they are prepared. That’s why we put them on.”

Xavi, during Atlético-Barça in the Metropolitano. / Bernat Armangue / AP

Xavi said in January that he was leaving in June and since then Barça has not lost. The coach finds a cause-effect relationship between his words and the substantial improvement in his team’s game, which he has escalated. up to second position in the League, a key place to enter the next Spanish Super Cup which would guarantee seven million euros at least. The pass to the quarterfinals was also key where Paris SG awaits him, leaving another 15 million euros at home, what was budgeted by Eduard Romeu, the economic vice president who resigned just after eliminating Napoli. There are seven wins and three draws. And in the League, Barça has had six wins and two draws: Granada (3-3) and Athletic (0-0). In other words, the team has added 20 points out of a possible 24. In Europe, that draw in Italy (1-1) together with the victory in Montjuïc (3-1) have allowed us to break the ceiling of the Champions League round of 16. “This match is almost ideal, perfect because it reflects Barça’s philosophy. We are in the best moment of the season,” the coach has insisted on several occasions, who does not want to make numbers about whether there is a chance for Madrid to fail in the League. . And that climb has come without Pedri, De Jong, Gavi, Balde… “Yes, I imagined this Barça. It is the idea, the philosophy, the Barça DNA, the ‘Cruyffism’… Whatever you want to call it. Our idea game is coming out.

2024-03-18 09:52:22
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