Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez to step down at end of season as struggles continue

After a stunning 5-3 loss to Villarreal on Saturday, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez announced that he will step down as coach at the end of the season. The former Barcelona midfielder is less than a season removed from leading the club to a La Liga title but after losing the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid and being knocked out of the Copa Del Rey at the hands of Atletico Bilbao, while also trailing Real Madrid in the La Liga race by 10 points, Barcelona’s chances at glory this season are dwindling despite reaching the last 16 of Champions League.

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“I want to announce that on June 30 I will no longer continue as the coach at Barça,” Xavi said. “I think the situation needs to change course, and as a culer, I cannot allow the current situation.”   

Already pondering his future after the Copa Del Rey loss to Bilbao, Xavi said that if Barcelona weren’t at the level of competitiveness expected at the end of the season, it would be normal that he would have to leave and the loss to Villarreal certainly was a moment that Barcelona lacked competitiveness allowing two goals after the 90th minute of play to drop all three points.

As manager of Barcelona, Xavi has won La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup after taking charge of the club in 2021 after taking over for Ronald Koeman, but a lack of consistency means the end is near. During his time in charge of Barcelona, Xavi has managed 122 matches with a 76-20-26 record, averaging 2.03 points per match in all competitions.

What happened against Villarreal

It was a stoppage-time disaster for Barcelona against Villarreal. Fighting back from being down 2-0 after 55 minutes of play, it seemed like Barca would pull off a gritty performance that showed that maybe the team had something positive to play for under Xavi but that hope quickly evaporated as Villarreal drew level in the 84th minute of play when Goncalo Guedes scored.

With only stoppage time to go, it felt like Barcelona may still nab a point before Alexander Soloroth got rewarded for his good play, finding the back of the net in the 99th minute to go along with two assists. The Yellow Submarine would then rub salt in Barcelona’s wounds with Jose Morales scoring three minutes later in the 102nd minute of play.

What has gone wrong in 2024

All fear of playing Barcelona has evaporated and the season is close to descending into chaos. Barcelona haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five matches in all competitions, conceding 16 goals while only scoring 13. The goals scored would suggest that attacking is the least of Barcelona’s concerns but a historically good defense has disappeared overnight and Barcelona have done nothing to stop the bleeding. Their only January addition has been the early arrival of Vitor Roque from Athletico Paranaense in Brazil as financial restrictions hampered Barcelona’s ability to add defensive reinforcements, and an injury to Marc-Andre ter Stegen left the defense out to dry.

After only conceding 20 La Liga goals in all of the 2022-23 season en route to winning the title, Barcelona have conceded 29 at just past the halfway point, and no level of goals scored will turn that into a title-winning team. It will be a long road back to dominance for Barcelona but Xavi won’t be the man to lead them there.

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