FC Barcelona will begin a new era under new head coach Xavi Hernandez, who took over the reins after Ronald Koeman was sacked last month. He is preparing for his first match as Barcelona coach, with a local derby against Espanyol on Saturday night. The new coach has left the door open to a surprise selection for a number of reasons: most notably the injury crisis that the team is currently living through, and his knowledge of the academy system.
Xavi’s Career till now
Xavi’s methods have had an impact at Al Sadd. Historically they are Qatar’s most successful club, but the improvement with him as a coach compared to his time as a player there is reflected in the team’s success. He won four trophies as a player in four years but had won seven by the time he left after just two years in charge, leaving Al Sadd top of the table and unbeaten in 36 league games spanning two seasons.
Barca’s Injury Crisis
Barcelona have a long list of injuries starting with youngster Pedri, who was ruled out for another month on Friday, with the young Spanish midfielder suffering a recurrence of his left thigh ailment. Sergino Dest is injured and the returning Dani Alves can’t play until January. Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia, and Nico Gonzalez all picked up injuries during the 3-3 draw with Celta Vigo. Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero, and Martin Brathwaite continue to be ruled out of an attack that has struggled since the summer departure of Lionel Messi.
Who is available for Espanyol Game
The Blaugrana have traditionally deployed a 4-3-3 system, preceding and running through his time as a player, and he will likely stick with that initially. Memphis Depay is the only experienced starter who is 100 percent fit right now, meaning there is an opening for La Masia graduates to play. Philippe Coutinho and Luuk De Jong could get rare starts. Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Frenkie De Jong are also expected to start in Xavi’s first game. Gavi or Nico could get call-ups in the midfield.
What to Expect from Xavi
Xavi himself says the emphasis will be on the style, not the formation. Although he is expected to stick to the traditional 4-3-3 formation against Espanyol. Winning games immediately will be his primary goal but he will also be responsible for developing a generation of youngsters whom people at the club feel is among the best they’ve ever had. While it may take time to fully implement his ideas, we see the return of a Barcelona legend as a manager providing the boost the players need to get over the line on Saturday. Defeating a resilient Espanyol side will certainly not be straightforward, but we ultimately see the Blaugrana having enough to make a winning start under Xavi.
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