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Barcelona comeback against Valencia shows they still have some fight in them

If only Barcelona had channeled some of that never-say-die spirit against PSG and Real Madrid.

Xavi’s Barcelona were far from perfect on the night, but found a way to get the result against a very good Valencia team.

All of this in the wake of the manager agreeing to stay on for another season to see out his contract at the club.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - LaLiga EA Sports

Photo by Pedro Salado/Getty Images

There was nothing on the line against Valencia, and yet the Barcelona players showed up with something to prove. With the coach coming back, all of a sudden these last few games of the season will serve as a tryout for the team next season.

Who will stay and who will go?

For starters, Fermin Lopez continues to take advantage of all the minutes thrown his way. That header was a thing of beauty that belongs on a poster.

But that’s what has always made him so special. An attacking midfielder who is a pseudo striker. Neither Gavi or Pedri, for all their unique strengths, give you that.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - LaLiga EA Sports

Photo by Pedro Salado/Getty Images

And Robert Lewandowski, he’s also playing for his future.

A hat-trick with two stunning headers, and a free-kick golazo for good measure. That’s what he was brought here to do. 16 goals gets him back in the Pichichi race, just one more hat-trick behind league leader Artem Dovbyk, who has 19.

Raphinha and Lamine Yamal continue to shine in their roles.

Even Sergi Roberto came into the game as a substitute and changed the dynamic. Xavi seems to have found a way to limit his role, and maximize his impact for the team.

Ronald Araujo and Pau Cubarsí struggled. The high line was targeted with great success by Valencia over and over again.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen had a howler.

And yet, in spite of these mistakes, in a game that didn’t really count for anything, it was nice seeing the Barcelona players express themselves, and have some fun.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - LaLiga EA Sports

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Yes, it was concerning that they gave up a one-goal lead. But they looked like the better team all game long.

Xavi made impactful subs at half-time, and the comeback was never really in doubt.

In total they managed 27 shots, with 13 on target and 81% possession. Yes, Valencia was down to 10 men, but they were outplayed regardless.

I really am optimistic that this Barcelona team can go places next season.

For all the talk of Ronald Araujo and Ilkay Gundogan beefing (you gotta be team Gundogan after yet another silly and costly mistake by the defender), this team for the most part is, and has always been, unified.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - LaLiga EA Sports

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

And that’s a rarity for a big club like Barcelona that won’t win any trophies this season.

The coach has kept the spirits high. As he has done from day one on the job, he knows that having fun is essential. There is joy in the game that should be felt from the training grounds to the game day pitch.

It was far from a flawless performance on Monday night.

But it was entertaining to watch.

That to me is a good sign. And it leaves me very curious to see where Xavi takes this team next.

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