Wednesday, June 29

Similarities and differences between Xavi’s Barça and Guardiola’s Barça

Xavi He is the fourth Barça coach in 21 months. Only one has been won Copa del Rey and the previous president fled to avoid the vote of no confidence. Sufficient evidence of the dilapidated state of the equipment. And he is the third coach that he has chosen Joan Laporta as president of Barça.

Neither of the two coaches (Rijkaard and Guardiola) that Laporta chose before picked up a team as depressing as Xavi

Neither of his two predecessors, Frank Rijkaard (2003) and Pep Guardiola (2008), received a team in such poor condition, already started the season. Xavi has accepted the challenge and is expected to mark a time remembered like them. Laporta has promised him signings in January. For now, he already has Alves.

Guardiola, in 2008, had to receive Barça in which the virtuous circle promoted by Ronaldinho stopped turning. But it was short-lived, too short. The Champions of Paris-2006 was his masterpiece and from then on he went into an inexplicable decline. Until Pep arrived.

Guardiola was responsible for managing Barça, which was once the ‘virtuous circle’

After kissing the second Cup in the history of Barça, Rijkaard’s team turned off. A blackout symbolized in that humiliating 4-1 that he received at the Bernabéu, a definitive sign that he had been exhausted. The reason? “Complacency”. That was the word used by Laporta himself to justify such a sudden fall.


Endless decadence. Xavi has inherited a team relegated to ninth place in the League and awaiting a crucial duel with Benfica to stay alive in the Champions League. They will be the first two games. The classification certifies the decline of the team.

The sports structure of 2021: Enric Masip (presidential sports advisor), Mateu Alemany (director of football) and Jordi Cruyff (director of international scouting)

Five players have stood the test of time since Xavi left in 2015 and none (Ter Stegen, Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Busquets) are better than then. On the contrary. They form the backbone of a team in which young people (Nico, Gavi, Pedri until recently) stand out when they should be mere companions.

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Added to the loss of quality is the loss, above all, of a huge number of goals without Messi or Griezman. Not to mention the loss of general identity of a Barça that has lost its style. Xavi only guarantees to provide the team with the game model that characterized him in the best of times.


The ‘virtuous circle’ stopped. Rijkaard’s Barça finished third in the League, 18 points behind champion Madrid and 10 from Villarreal, who snatched second place. He was left blank and won nothing, despite having a large and luxurious staff (Ronaldinho, Etoo, Deco and Henry they were the sacred cows that supported the structure where a young and emerging Messi was already dazzling) supported by an unrivaled generation that emerged from La Masia: Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta and Valdés.

The sports structure of 2008: Johan Cruyff (presidential advisor), Txiki Begiristain (technical secretary) and Raúl Sanllehí (football director)

Players all of them in the right process of maturing to become what they later were: world stars. But they had previously needed years of lead to reach the much desired and necessary maturity.

But the wear in the dressing room, with a struggle of egos symbolized in the pulse between Ronaldinho and Etoo, together with the erosion caused by the passage of time in the relationship with Rijkaard it exploded in the air in the fifth and convulsive last year. It was not who signed but who decided to remove Guardiola from the team one of the keys to his immediate success. Ronaldinho, the author of the revolution, left. Deco, too. And Etoo stayed because the captains (Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta) asked Guardiola. That’s where it all started.


No money to sign. Barça is ruined and devastated by a debt of 1,350 million. To the lack of money, which has forced Xavi to lower his claims, is added the salary limit of spending that the League has set for the Barça club, which further reduces the room for maneuver to find a player of sufficient quality so that strengthen the team. For this reason, Alves arrives, unemployed as he was since the Olympics. Free and with the lowest salary of the staff.

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It is not easy to find it in the winter market. Opportunities are usually discards from others. And what Barça is looking for is very specific (a winger) and very expensive (a scorer). There will be contacts with Manchester City in the coming days. Raheem Sterling (26 years old) could be an option. But it is not the only one.


Almost 100 million in transfers. There was money for reinforcements. And above all, there was a plan. Not all of them worked, but structural pieces arrived (Alves, for whom 36 million euros were paid to Sevilla; Piqué, recruited from United, for 5 million) that changed Barça.

The basis was that of Rijkaard, of course, but the return to the routine of work, acted as a motor. Guardiola sewed all the fractures in record time, although players were lost along the way: Hleb (17 million), Martín Cáceres, (16.5) and Henrique (8), who did not even make his debut. It was not, however, the case of Keita (14) that contributed much.


A clothed technician. Not a voice has been heard against the hiring of Xavi in ​​the published opinion. Not even because of his inexperience, the cause that fueled Laporta’s initial dislike. Perhaps the reluctance was that the ex-organizer was burned in office for arriving too soon. Xavi has had a brief two-year career at Al Sadd, while Guardiola only managed one season at Barça B.

The expectations that Xavi produces have generated unconditional support, an enthusiasm that was perceived in his presentation. On the other hand, he does not have the opposition of another coach who was a candidate for the position. It was him or him.


Was not Guardiola a consensus technician. Not much less. He was viewed with great suspicion. So much so that as soon as he began his stage the qualification of a scholarship holder was hung up on him. The favorite was Jose Mourinho, especially from a powerful sector of the culé environment. Even the Portuguese coach himself felt that he was the number one candidate to lead the reconstruction Barça, as evidenced by a pen drive that contained the keys to his project and handed over to Barça managers.

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But Cruyff, Laporta’s advisor, and Txiki Begiristain, the technical secretary, strengthened the path of Pep, then Barça B coach, who made him champion of the Third Division, with arguments. And they got away with it. The president’s courage was also decisive.


No discussion or debate. The increasingly accentuated personalism of Joan Laporta has turned off the volume of the other managers. Most are participants in the same football trend, which is Cruyffismo. Enjoyed and applauded the Guardiola era, there is nothing more similar in the market than Xavi.

Laporta wanted to bet on the German school – he did not verbalize it in the electoral campaign – but he did not have enough money or the ability to convince to attract any of the most reputable technicians. He held out with Koeman although he eroded the ground with his attitude. Now he will take refuge in Xavi, the coach who belonged to Víctor Font and who will be his umbrella.


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Discussions, resignations … Laporta lost directors every year. Rosell and Bartomeu, one of the power cores, left the board in 2005 after cohabiting, and badly, for just two years.

Guardiola already announced as the new coach, the motion of censure raised by Oriol Giralt failed. 60% of the partners wanted to dismiss Laporta (23,870 votes), but 66% were needed to evict him from the box. Days later, eight managers (including three vice presidents: Soriano, Ingla and Vicens), resigned en bloc. Laporta was left alone. And Guardiola started the most successful project in that troubled climate.

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