The first six games of Xavi Hernandez as FC Barcelona manager could not be divided evenly any more. With two wins, two defeats, and two draws, he continues to strive to inspire the struggling side, so he is tied in all three dimensions.
The Catalan, who made a pit stop with the Boca Juniors in the middle of the week at the Maradona Cup, failed to win. Despite leading most of the second half, Xavi made a concession in the penalty shootout and lost.
Returning from three losses in the last four games is not easy for the host. However, 16th place Elche provides an ideal platform for Barcelona to return to victory. Here are three issues towards a critical match.
1. All eyes on defense
Gerard Piqué was a convenient scapegoat of recent Barcelona defensive shortcomings, but his leadership was not questioned.
When the defender got the fifth yellow card, Xavi’s plan was hit hard. The absence of the tall Spaniards means that Barcelona will have to rely on other centre-backs to hold the fort.
Ronald Federho was an outstanding performer in defense, but it remains unclear who will partner with him at night. If Xavi again selects the backline of three people, there are many possible combinations.
Clement Rengre and Samuel Umtiti appear to have recently revived under Xavi, with both French national teams playing a major role in recent matches. Still, due to a series of performance degradation, the manager may call Eric Garcia back from the bench.
In the absence of Pique, defenses are subject to rigorous testing against Lucas Perez, Lucas Boyé and others. Elche wasn’t very bright in front of the goal this season, but the perfect counters are what they are very capable of.
2. Not a goalfest, but not an old draw
Elche has acknowledged in the last nine league games and offers ideas about the volatile defenses they have. The full Barcelona team was undoubtedly able to score some goals and leave at all three points.
However, the team’s trial time in the forward division leaves Xavi with few options to get started. Given the absence of Memphis Depay, it would be difficult for Barcelona to take advantage of this situation. Still, volatile defenses open the door for hosts to sneak into the goal.
Barcelona’s defense, on the other hand, cannot be trusted by defending the lead. Marc Andre ter Stegen is far from his best, and leaky defenses did not help the Braugranas case. Given the fragile lines of defense of both teams, the door to a goal-filled game is open.
3. Barely equalizer syndrome
The inability to conclude the match that Barcelona won has changed from fears of the facts. Opponents are well aware that high pressure after 80 minutes is sufficient to leave at least one point.
The match against Sertabigo was the first to show such a syndrome. This theory proved to be correct again for Osasuna last week. Despite opening in the 49th minute, Barcelona collapsed under pressure, allowing the host to catch up with the tie four minutes after the last whistle.
The team’s problems are clearly psychological, and the manager accepts the same. The weak mindset of late-stage players allows them to be overwhelmed by the ferocious momentum of enemy attacks. Some of the changes may be due to changes in the defense structure, but the root cause should be addressed by team staff as soon as possible.
Admitting slow goals is a tendency that can quickly become a habit. Those who die hard. Stopping bleeding at a later stage is much more troublesome, so that’s exactly what Xavi needs to prioritize and avoid.
The beginning of the Barcelona season is far from ideal and the January transfer period is expected to be a major milestone of the Catalan year. However, looking at the side positions at various competitions, we feel the urgent need for points on the table. That said, it is invaluable for the Xavi-depleted side to leave with all three points against Elche.
Photos via getty
– Soccer Sports
Barcelona vs Elche: Pre-match story points
https://barcauniversal.com/barcelona-vs-elche-pre-match-talking-points/ Barcelona vs Elche: Pre-match story points