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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Barcelona’s uneven early progress in the Champions League

<p>Barcelona has the opportunity to secure their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday in Hamburg, after two years of suffering in the group stage.</p>
<p>With a fourth straight win in Group H, something they haven’t accomplished since 2021 when they were eliminated by Kylian Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, the Spanish champions will advance without a doubt.<img decoding=”async” class=”alignnone wp-image-270717″ src=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/theindiaprint.com-un-security-council-to-discuss-the-deteriorating-state-of-affairs-in-gaza-download.jpg” alt=”theindiaprint.com un security council to discuss the deteriorating state of affairs in gaza download” width=”1325″ height=”882″ srcset=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/theindiaprint.com-un-security-council-to-discuss-the-deteriorating-state-of-affairs-in-gaza-download.jpg 275w, https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/theindiaprint.com-un-security-council-to-discuss-the-deteriorating-state-of-affairs-in-gaza-download-150×100.jpg 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1325px) 100vw, 1325px” title=”Barcelona's uneven early progress in the Champions League 3″></p>
<p>Barcelona has undoubtedly improved since Xavi joined the team in November of that year, winning La Liga the previous year, but they have still had difficulties in Europe and haven’t had the spark that many, including the coach, thinks they should have in their play.</p>
<p>The club’s season peaked in September with back-to-back 5-0 victories against Real Betis in La Liga and Royal Antwerp in the Champions League, but they haven’t consistently played that kind of game.</p>
<p>Even though the Catalans easily defeated Shakhtar 2-1 at home in October, they were unable to end the match and struggled in the closing minutes as the Ukrainians looked for a way to tie the score.</p>
<p>Three days later, the identical scenario played again in the La Liga Clasico between Real Madrid and Ilkay Gundogan, with Jude Bellingham winning Real Madrid with a spectacular double.</p>
<p>On the other hand, Barcelona defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 on Saturday despite playing from behind the whole time and producing very nothing until Ronald Araujo’s stoppage-time winner.</p>
<p>“There are times when football is inexplicable,” Xavi added, acknowledging that the club needed to be “self-critical.”</p>
<p>When Xavi was a vital member of the club during Pep Guardiola’s reign as manager, or even during Luis Enrique’s explosive, daring performances that helped them win the Champions League in 2015, Xavi’s style of play has been quite different.</p>
<p>The squad will continue to strive to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, the coach has previously said, even if it is not feasible to be as dominating as it was during his playing career.</p>
<p>“Not acceptable”</p>
<p>A performance as lackluster as the one against Real Sociedad in San Sebastian, according to Xavi, cannot be tolerated.</p>
<p>The coach told reporters, “Today is an example of what we must not do, above all in terms of intensity—that’s something unacceptable.”</p>
<p>It’s not possible. However, a winning team does more than just play well to win.</p>
<p>After not playing since August, midfielder Pedri returned from injury in the second part of the match against Real Sociedad.</p>
<p>The Canary Islander’s comeback will enable the club to play with more fluidity, according to Xavi.</p>
<p>Xavi predicted that “Pedri will change the face of the team.”</p>
<p>“That’s excellent news for the group and for him.”</p>
<p>After missing out on playing time due to an ankle injury in the Clasico, Robert Lewandowski began the match against Real Sociedad but did not make much of an impact either time.</p>
<p>He may be best served by returning to Germany, where he excelled when playing for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. In the first game against Shakhtar, Barcelona failed to capitalize on his deadly finishing.</p>
<p>Xavi could also abandon the three-center-back configuration he has used in the last two contests, which seems to be an attempt to relieve Joao Cancelo of some of his defensive duties.</p>
<p>Although he has made significant contributions driving forward, the dynamic Portuguese right-back has struggled defensively in his early months with the team.</p>
<p>Xavi hasn’t yet established a routine he can depend on, which might be a factor in the team’s inconsistent play.</p>
<p>Additionally, it’s uncertain which combination of breakthrough players and a wealth of center midfielders Barca uses when everyone is well. Xavi is having a headache when it comes to selection, but a good one thanks to Lamine Yamal and Fermin Lopez.</p>
<p>With two games remaining, the coach will secure qualification on Tuesday, giving himself more time to get his act together before facing far more difficult opponents in the Champions League’s later stages.</p>

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