Independent Online

Monday, July 4, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

’Xavi-ball’ is paying dividends for Barcelona

FC Barcelona's head coach Xavi Hernandez attends a press conference in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 19 March 2022, on the eve of their Spanish LaLiga soccer match against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Picture: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA

FC Barcelona's head coach Xavi Hernandez attends a press conference in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 19 March 2022, on the eve of their Spanish LaLiga soccer match against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Picture: Enric Fontcuberta/EPA

Published Apr 2, 2022

Share

Durban - Barcelona are starting to adapt to “Xavi-ball” and after looking like they would not finish in La Liga’s top four a mere three months ago, they now look like they are rebuilding well. This was seen in the Blaugrana’s 4-0 win over Real Madrid prior to the international break.

What’s more impressive is that Xavi’s Barcelona side showed good mental strength against a Madrid team which was on a high. Los Blancos were top of the log and also fresh from their Champions League triumph over PSG.

Story continues below Advertisement

The game more or less confirmed Madrid’s worst fear – their arch-rivals are coming back. The team that was in the doldrums and had their stalwart Lionel Messi leave them ahead of the season could soon again be on the rise.

Barcelona are not going to win the La Liga this season but by the way things are going, they could challenge for this season’s Europa League while also being a force to be reckoned with again next season.

ALSO READ: Pep Guardiola backs Erik ten Hag as future Man City coach

Madrid fans may well argue that their team would have performed better with the presence of Karim Benzema and maybe there is merit to that. However, the Frenchman is 34-years-old and will not be able to score the bulk of Madrid’s goals for the long term even though he is currently in the form of his life.

Madrid are still far from a complete side. They have been made to look good and sail to the La Liga title this season due to the misfiring of their two main rivals, Barcelona and reigning champions Atletico Madrid.

There are three things that Madrid need to do this off-season. The first and most important is to complete the signing of Kylian Mbappe. According to all reliable reports, Mbappe is unhappy at PSG and a move to Madrid looks likely.

Story continues below Advertisement

Mbappe has proven that he is a generational great and there is little doubt that he will challenge for the Ballon d’or soon. By signing him, Madrid will prove that they are prepared to match Barcelona’s revolution.

Story continues below Advertisement

Secondly, they must ensure that they extend Luka Modric’s contract. Modric is 36-years-old but still a vital cog in the Madrid midfield with his passing essential to the team’s flow of possession. It is really a no-brainer for Madrid to extend his contract by at least one year.

The second big signing that Madrid need to pull off is that of Jude Bellingham. There are a select few footballers that manage to hit the top at first sight regardless of the league that they are playing in, and Bellingham is one of those gems.

He rose to prominence as a 16-year-old in the English Championship with Birmingham City, never looking out of place. He transferred that form to Borussia Dortmund when he joined them in 2020.

Story continues below Advertisement

There is simply no better replacement for Modric than Bellingham.

@eshlinv

Share