A look back at ‘New-look’ Barcelona’s draw with Rayo The silver lining and Xavi’s tactical woes
Joan Laporta has taken initiatives to rebuild a competitive team just after taking the president’s chair of the financially plagued FC Barcelona. He (along with his team) brought about all the players Xavi wanted in his team for the next season. They had to sell the naming rights of the historic Camp Nou stadium, a large proportion (24.5% stake) of the Barca Studio and La Liga TV Rights (25% and 15%). In the pre-season games, however, we have seen its effect. But with the league kicks off, everything got mixed up. The old-looking Barca, suffering from poor defense and lack of finishing touch, emerged. As a result, Xavi’s ‘New Barcelona’ left the Camp Nouwith agoalness draw against RayoVallecano in their La Liga opener on Saturday.
The former Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski failed to score on the opening day of the season for the first time in eight years. New signing Rafinha also got several opportunities, but after spending millions, Barcelona couldn’t break the Rayo defense. The former players like OusmaneDembele, AnsuFati and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang also disappointed the fans. In the very first match of the season, Barcelona has left excitement, anxiety and questions on several issues. Let’s take a look at them.
Hope for the future
Pedri was outstanding with the ball. Every time he touched the ball, he entertained the spectators with sharp passes and dribbles.
The connection between the wingers was spectacular. In attack, they were so clinical that it is easy to assume they will cause headaches for the opponent in the next matches.
Robert Lewandowski gave more than his usual game. Besides giving the maximum effort in attack, his defending work was worth seeing.
Frenkie de Jong, although played for 30 minutes, showed his consistency and firmness at the midfield. De Jong brought enthusiasm back in the crowd with a great physical appearance and skill. Producing some amazing goal-scoring chance, he revived Barca’s playing in the midway of the game. New-signings Christensen and Kessie, and young talent Gavi also have given hope for a better future to the fans by showing their competence.
Though a few players were able to meet the coach’s expectations, the rest were not up to the mark. Especially captain Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Eric Garcia and Rafinha were not consistent at all.
Xavi organized the attack by keeping Dembele on the left wing, Lewandowski in the center and Rafinha on the right. But Rafinha has repeatedly failed to produce a good attack. He did not even take an excellent shot in the entire game. The young Brazilian could not give a good cross to the center.
Jordi Alba and Eric Garcia were dead from the start of the match. Sergio Busquets also faded over time. And Araujo, playing as a right back, could not show his best.
Meanwhile, misinterpretation between the players deepened the wound. For this, a number of good passes got wasted in attack. Besides this, miss passes were another concerning issue. Plenty of game development ruined for miss passes.
Xavi’s Tactical woes
Some of Xavi’s tactical weaknesses were revealed in the match. The left-footed Dembele could not play his best on the left. Nothing sparkling came from Rafinha on the right either. After the cooling break, Xavi could not bring out their best by alternating position. The Barca-Boss could have used the ‘fully fit’ Ferran Torres when Rafinha was failing on the left, but he didn’t do so.
When Rayo Vallecano introduced Radamel Falcao, replacing Sergio Cameo, Xavi was forced to send Araujo to center back position. But surprisingly, instead of replacing Eric Garcia, he picked out Andreas Christensen, who was playing relatively well. As a result, the sloppy defense remains the same.
Busquets, who repeatedly lost possession in the controlling midfield, could have been replaced by another veteran, MiralemPjanic, but Xavi didn’t count on him. At last, the Barca captain had to leave the field with a red card at a penultimate time of the match.
Nobody targeted Robert Lewandowski, who was in the center of attack throughout the match. He didn’t get enough crosses from either wing. Barca’s attacks were helpless again and again against Dimitrievski’s outstanding performance. After all, some trepidation on the coach’s side, who was completely in the dark about which player(s) he will get until the day before the match, was inevitable. However, fans will be looking at how Xavi overcomes the issues and turns Barcelona into a fully strengthen team to compete against stronger teams to come.
The Writer is a freelance journalist