Xavi will try to take the raging Barcelona bull by the horns
Alfredo Relaño gives his take on Xavi's return to Barcelona after the Camp Nou legend was officially presented as the club's new coach on Monday.
After a few successful campaigns on the bench at Qatari club Al Saad, Xavi has taken the huge step up to Barcelona -- and the challenge that lays ahead for the young coach will not be easy.
He will be expected to steer the club back to Champions League success in the future but of course the main task this year will be merely securing Barcelona’s place in next season’s edition of the competition. There is already a six-point gap between them and fourth-placed Atlético, and they are no joke. And, yes, there is the Cup, which would have relatively little significance by itself for the normal demands of Barça, but this year, given what we have seen, it would be a valuable prize.
Because what I've seen is that Barça has several problems beyond the financial one, and there is that too. The squad has several flaws, not to mention a huge number of injuries.
On Sunday night, Spanish football show Partidazo on Movistar undertook the interesting exercise of drawing up a starting XI of injured or sick Barça players: Neto, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Eric Garcia, Dest; Dembélé, Nico, Pedri; Agüero, Braithwaite and Ansu Fati. I suppose that some of them will be able to play against Espanyol. What I don't know is who will fall that day or after, because the injury curse shows no signs of letting up.
And then there is Joan Laporta. Yesterday he was pleasant at the presentation but only after months of dragging his feet on the subject of Xavi. He has signed for Barça despite Laporta's visible skepticism and it is not good for a coach (see Koeman) that the squad knows that the president does not support him.
In any case, Xavi is here and it has been a happy return. He is a cool, thoughtful and intelligent guy, but he will also need character and toughness, especially with those in the squad with whom he shared a dressing room. Finding the right approach to dealing with Piqué, Jordi Alba and Busquets will be essential.