Xavi's Barça lose the thread

Xavi's Barça lose the thread

| sport

The last few weeks have been painful and the new era has shrunken down to nothing

If football is a state of mind, Barcelona have played for weeks with their head on the floor. Wounded and dragging. Surviving at times, falling apart at others. The impotence grows every day. Against Rayo they sealed a sadly historic chapter: a third consecutive defeat at the Camp Nou in the same season. It hadn't happened before. Eintracht, Cadiz and Rayo have contributed to Barcelona wondering what happened to the Barça we saw at the Bernabeu.

From the 4-0 win on March 20, to leaving the league in Madrid’s hands on April 24. From announcing a new era to shrinking, shrinking entirely. Real Madrid can draw with Espanyol on Sunday to become champions.

Xavi’s Barça will end the season looking too much like Koeman’s Barça. They have given themselves a fight now to hold onto second place. THey’re level on points with Sevilla, but are six ahead of Betis with 15 left to play for.

Against Rayo the pattern was repeated. Xavi spoke of a lack of “desire and impetus”. But this time he recognised an uncomfortable truth. The team and the fans are finding it hard to be motivated to fight for second place and not a title. In the past he spoke of the post-Messi difficulties.

Yesterday the team came out to play as if the Argentine was still there, capable of resolving any stuck game by himself. For years he hid the team’s structural weaknesses and masked dangerous dynamics.

Xavi speaks now of a change of model, of the difficulties he’s had in sowing his ideas and the injuries that come from a higher press than the team has used in recent years. Difficulties which are increasingly visible and have created an unstimulating end to the season.

Xavi had a press conference ahead of the game where it seemed he was summing up the season. This end of term feeling has happened when there are still 15 points to dispute. Barcelona are making the end of the season very long indeed.

Topics with the letter