Tactical Insights

FC Barcelona Coach Xavi Admits He Hasn’t Been ‘Up To Par’ This Season

FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez admitted that he and his coaching staff “haven’t been up to par” this season during a prematch press conference before Monday’s La Liga clash with Real Sociedad.

After winning a first Spanish top flight crown since 2019 in spring last year, to compliment the Spanish Super Cup sealed earlier in January, Barca will finish this season trophyless thanks to its domestic and continental failures.

The Catalans are now fighting for second place behind champions Real Madrid, and Xavi put his hands up to admit that the 2023/2024 campaign has been affected by poor planning “and playing many games without a natural defensive pivot”.

“When we’ve played with Oriol Romeu or [Andreas] Christensen we’e competed better,” Xavi stated, before adding: “It’s my mistake and that of the staff. We haven’t been up to par. This lack of dominance in midfield has weighed heavily on us, and I’m self-critical.”

Xavi will at least try and remedy this by hoping the board gives him the required funds to land Joshua Kimmich or a player that will be on the other side of the ball at the turn of the week in La Real’s Martin Zubimendi.

“I said last year that he was very important and good, but there’s also [Mikel] Merino, Brais [Mendez]… They have top-level footballers,” Xavi stressed.

“I don’t know which La Real we’re going to meet,” Xavi confessed. “They’re physically strong, they don’t let you make transitions. It depends on where you get the defensive line. Getafe gave us a very brave game and I expect a very brave Real Sociedad”.

“We have another chance to get second place,” Xavi said, at another point of the press conference.

“It’s up to us because of Girona’s draw in Vitoria [against Alaves]. Real Sociedad have an extraordinary level, Imanol does a beastly job, they do things very well. They’re a difficult, rocky opponent, I’m sure they make it difficult for us. The team is keen to show that they can win against a big team after the defeat in Girona.”

With a lucrative place in next year’s Spanish Super Cup on the line, Xavi agreed that not securing second “would be a setback, a step backwards”.

“There are four games left and tomorrow is vital,” he said.

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