Making Montjuic home: from chaos to euphoria with Xavi the interventionist

Making Montjuic home: from chaos to euphoria with Xavi the interventionist

Barça are making the Olympic Stadium home after four wins in a row there in all competitions

Barcelona experienced their first epic evening in Montjuïc. Epic is not a recurring adjective in the history of a club that tends to explain its successes more by footballing reasons than by matters of faith. But victory seemed almost impossible with only 10 minutes left when Barça were down two goals against Celta Vigo. 

The ball belonged to the Blaugrana, but it was Celta who were getting in front of Ter Stegen with astonishing ease. For most of the game, Barça defended badly because they attacked worse. Faced with Celta's blockade, who accumulated a lot of people on the inside to leave Barça with no space, the Catalan side added a lot of people in front of the ball but without finding solutions. 

Xavi opted to start Marcos Alonso and Ferran Torres, rested Gavi and left Lamine on the bench. The changes to the XI did not alter his playbook: the classic square with Gündogan and Joao Félix close to Lewandowski and Alonso playing as a winger on the left flank. On the other flank, Cancelo was almost just another midfielder. An approach that opposition coach Rafa Benítez had well studied with a clear strategy: to attack the back of Barça's full-backs on the counter-attack.  

Celta soon had clear chances while Barça never flowed as they had in recent matches. Xavi doubled the gamble after the Celta goal. At half-time Araujo and Lamine came on for Alonso and Romeu. 

Barça played most of the second half with Gavi and Cancelo at the base of the midfield and finished the game with four strikers: Lamine, Raphinha, Joao Félix and Lewandowski. Xavi opted for the Brazilian playing on the inside and the gamble paid off. Raphinha was very active in the final stretch, although the man of the match was Cancelo with an assist and a goal 'in extremis'. The performance of the Portuguese, who ended up being Barça's hero in their most erratic game, summed up the feeling of the night: there are inexplicable victories, that's football too.

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