Xavi Hernandez is being presented as the new Barcelona head coach today.

Xavi was snapped up from Al-Sadd after a week of negotiations last week, the two sides eventually striking a deal.

Barca confirmed the news just before the weekend and the drama that followed, a three-goal collapse to draw 3-3 with Celta Vigo, but the presentation is being made today at Camp Nou.

After 767 games as a player, Xavi begins a new adventure on the bench, following on from Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, to try and perfect a style proposed by Johan Cruyff.

Xavi walked out to chants of “Xavi, Xavi” before signing his contract on the pitch, alongside his family and Barca president Joan Laporta.

“I don’t want to get too emotional so I will just tell you one thing — we are the best club in the world,” Xavi told the crowd of around 10,000 fans.

“And we will work to the highest standards to have success. We cannot accept defeats or draws, we have to win every game.”

Laporta said: “Today will be a historic day for Barca.”

Xavi is the first Barca coach to be presented on the pitch in front of fans at the 99,000-capacity stadium, with the routine usually only reserved for the club’s biggest signings.

There is no doubt Xavi has a lot of work ahead of him. And it won’t be easy. He arrives midseason to lead a project he has not designed.

At least he has the two-week international break to start with — although he will be without the internationals (Jordi Alba, Busquets, Gavi, Coutinho, Araujo, Ter Stegen, De Jong, Memphis, Lenglet and Demir) and the injured players (Sergi Roberto, Dest, Piqué, Pedri, Dembélé, Braithwaite, Agüero, Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia and Nico) when he takes training on Tuesday with Espantol on Nov. 20 in mind.

“Training will be demanding and we will compete,” was Xavi’s declaration of intent after arriving in Barcelona from Doha on Saturday.

Iniesta also gave Xavi his blessing and predicts a successful spell as Barcelona coach. The current Vissel Kobe player highlighted Xavi‘s perfect understanding of the club as a factor in why he believes he will do a good job.

“He’s ready – he’s been preparing and he’s capable. He’s a perfect fit, that’s for sure,” he told beIN Sports. 

“Not just because of what he may know about La Masia or the club, but because he’s ready for it. It’s important, not just because of what he represents as player but as a coach. He is ready to face this challenge.

“I wish him all the luck in the world and I am convinced that he will be fine because he has prepared for this moment and is very excited to be able to take on this challenge.


“I hope that the circumstances arise for him to be successful. I wish him the best.”

Things Xavi will solve and bring to Barca

Defensive fragility

Barcelona have conceded 15 goals in their 12 LaLiga Santander matches to date, and six in four in the Champions League. From their 16 games, they’ve managed just four clean sheets.

Leadership

Frenkie de Jong lamented the side’s lack of character after their collapse at Celta Vigo on Saturday, and it was telling that a youngster like De Jong was the man to speak out rather than one of the experienced heads.

Ineffective 

Ronald Koeman regularly bemoaned his side’s ineffectiveness in front of goal. They’ve score 19 this season, nine fewer than Real Madrid, and there’s often a feeling that a game could continue all day and they still wouldn’t find the net. They’ve only scored in two of their four Champions League games.

Injuries

Barcelona currently have 11 absentees. Neto, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest, Nico Gonzalez, Pedri, Martin Braithwaite, Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele, and Sergio Aguero are all sidelined, and Xavi will have to find a way to manage that.

Playing style

This current Blaugrana side are unrecognisable from those of the past. They do not play like a Barcelona team, but Xavi will revert to a 4-3-3 and try to get them playing the Barcelona way.

Mood

The players are deflated. Their inexperience matched with poor results has been an unfortunate recipe, and they require real emotional management now.

Home comforts

Barcelona still don’t know how to win away from home in LaLiga Santander this season, drawing three and losing two of their games on the road so far this term.

Barca fans were invited along to Camp Nou for free to welcome back their former midfielder, and more than 25,000 have turned up.

Connection with the fans

The fans have stopped going to the Camp Nou, making their dissatisfaction with goings on at the club clear. The pandemic has undoubtedly hurt, but the club’s situation and performances have played a big part in keeping people away.

Performances and results will determine Xavi’s success, but the ex-La Masia graduate has all the ingredients to deliver a cocktail that revitalises Barça and returns them to the top.

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