BARCELONA

Xavi's impressive winning run

The new Barcelona manager has gone seven months without losing a game. His last defeat dates back to April in a match that ended with Xavi and his brother being sent off.

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Xavi's impressive winning run
LLUIS GENE AFP

Xavi Hernández has arrived in Barcelona with an impressive managerial record after several years abroad. In the two and a half years he was in charge of Qatari outfit Al Sadd, he turned the club into a winning machine. Last season, the 41-year-old guided his former team to the Qatar Super League (QSL) title - the most important domestic competition - without losing a game. Under Xavi's guidance in his last season in Qatar, Al Sadd recorded eight wins and one draw in nine games. Their last QSL defeat was on 7 March 2020 when they lost 1-0 to Al Rayyan.

Al Sadd's unbeaten run

The new Barcelona boss left Al Sadd on a 36-match unbeaten run in Qatar after a 3-3 draw against second-placed Al Duhail, leaving the team three points clear at the top of the table.

You have to go back to the Asian Champions League in April to discover Xavi's last defeat at the helm. On 29 April, Al Sadd lost 2-1 to Al Nassr in a match that was played in Saudi Arabia due to Covid-19 restrictions. It was a fixture shrouded in controversy. In the 88th minute, the referee decided to call offside when Tae-Hee was one on one with the goalkeeper. An Al Sadd goal would have seen them finish second in the group and qualify for the last 16.

The blatant error by the Syrian referee caused huge frustration in the Al Sadd dugout, especially after television images confirmed the player was in an onside position. Xavi, seeing such an obvious injustice, protested against the decision and was given his matching orders alongside his brother Óscar on the touchline.

Xavi's first game in charge of Barcelona

Xavi still hasn't forgotten that game and, when he is reminded of it, he still sees red. 205 days after that fateful night, Xavi faces the challenge of continuing his impressive unbeaten run. On Saturday, his reign as Barcelona manager begins against cross-city rivals Espanyol, when he will be hoping to stretch his winning record and take Barcelona back to where he feels they belong.