What will be Xavi Hernández's first game as Barcelona coach?
The former Camp Nou legend is swapping life in Qatar managing Al Sadd for one of the biggest coaching jobs in the world, back where he shone on the field.
Al Sadd confirmed Friday that Xavi Hernández will be the new man in charge of FC Barcelona, good news for many Barcelona fans who have been anxiously waiting for this moment since the dismissal of Ronald Koeman was announced Wednesday, October 27, following which Barcelona officials traveled to Doha to negotiate Xavi's release from Al-Sadd.
It was an open secret that the Barcelona legend would eventually return to lead the team once more, this time, from the sidelines, as both former player and club manifested their desire to work together in the future and Josep Bartomeu had already tried twice to capture him last year.
Drama following Xavi’s Barcelona return
According to Turki All-Ali, Al Sadd CEO, the administration agreed on the move of Xavi to Barcelona after paying the $5 million release clause stipulated in the agreement.
“We agree with Barcelona practical cooperation in the future, Xavi is an important part of the history of the To the Sadd. We wish him all the success in the following stage".
However, the Catalan club remained strangely quiet on the breaking news, leading some to think that Barcelona was still hoping to negotiate the $5 million clause. As Friday wore on, however, it became clear that any stumbling block would be overcome and footage was released of Xavi saying his goodbyes.
When would Xavi's debut as Barcelona coach be?
Following the upcoming international break, all eyes will be set on Xavi on November 20 as he makes his debut as Barcelona manager in a critical derby clash against city rivals Espanyol.
The game will be held at Camp Nou, therefore the eternal legend will make his comeback on a big scale, with thousands of Blaugrana fans expected to welcome him warmly.
This debut is not only crucial for their LaLiga position but because it is hoped that it will inject a shot of positivity especially following Barcelona’s recent disappointing outings. That said, it is expected to be a difficult game to start with as it's a derby.
Upcoming tough fixtures
However, this is not the only tough match Xavi Hernández will have to face in the coming weeks. Following Espanyol, the next four matches are not much easier, with Benfica, Villarreal, Betis and Bayern next up.
The reality is that Barça's sluggish start with Koeman has heaped plenty of pressure on the team, and the ex-midfielder has the challenge of getting them back into shape quickly in all competitions.
At the moment, Barcelona occupies spot number nine in LaLiga, nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad and eight off eternal rivals Real Madrid. At the moment, a title tilt is less of a focus, with a desperate need to just reach fourth and qualify for next season's Champions League.
Xavi knows he will have to 'fix' Barcelona, but many believe once he has them purring along in the style that he will demand, a return to successful days will not be too far away.