Inside Xavi’s Barcelona revolution after the 4-0 Clasico THRASHING of Real Madrid

No-one should be surprised by the Xavi revolution at Barcelona because he was telling people exactly what he would do if he were in charge back in March 2020.

Asked then by Catalan paper La Vanguarida if he would re-sign Neymar the then Al-Sadd coach said: ‘I would sign wingers, players similar to Neymar. I don’t know if he would fit in (because of off-the-field issues) but in a football sense I know he would be a great signing. Barcelona have players who can play inside they need wings like the ones Bayern have. They don’t need many: Jadon Sancho, Serge Gnabry.’

Sancho ended up moving from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United and Gnabry is still at Bayern Munich but Xavi’s obsession with wingers has not wavered and it has been the foundation of his revolution.

Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid 4-0 inside the Bernabeu in Xavi’s best day yet as manager

In just 130 days, he has turned the club around and they are in a far more positive position

In just 130 days, he has turned the club around and they are in a far more positive position

When he arrived he told Ousmane Dembele that he could be the best in the world in his position and that he wanted him to stay. Then he asked the board to sign Ferran Torres and Adama Traore.

In the biggest two league games of his reign so far those three players were the clearest difference between winning and losing. Against Atletico Madrid Adama was man-of-the-match on his debut. And on Sunday night it was first Ferran Torres and then Dembele who destroyed Real Madrid down the flanks.

Ferran got the better of Dani Carvajal and Dembele got the better of Nacho. High, wide and direct wingers is only one feature of the footballing blueprint Xavi wants to make work at Barcelona but it’s the ingredient that helps everything else fall into place. It’s what forces the opposition back, opening up the pitch, concentrating the game into the opposition’s half.

He has been helped by the most joined-up thinking the club have displayed in years. Signings are now discussed by the coach, with the technical secretary, Jordi Cruyff, and the director of football, Mateu Alemany.

Many thought the likes of Gerard Pique would be pushed out, but he is still a vital cog

Many thought the likes of Gerard Pique would be pushed out, but he is still a vital cog

When Xavi arrived he told Ousmane Dembele (C) that he could be the best winger in the world

When Xavi arrived he told Ousmane Dembele (C) that he could be the best winger in the world

The three are in constant contact, and with Cruyff’s vast football knowledge and Alemany’s shrewd business acumen they are the perfect combination to bounce off of Xavi’s vision for the way the squad should be developed.

Cruyff is also now Barcelona’s post-match spokesman and he is already displaying a talent for grace in defeat and humility in victory – the latter was what was required post match in Madrid.

The coach talks a good game too. After Gerard Pique tweeted: ‘we are back’ just minutes after the final whistle it felt like a perfect three-word summary of an extraordinary 90 minutes.

But Xavi was quick to be slightly less triumphal. ‘It’s just three points and we can’t stop here,’ he said. ‘There are still many objectives for this season that need to be met. We have shown that we are on the right path.’

There was also no letting up in the demands. He added: ‘In the second half I was upset because we lost the ball when we relaxed.’

Jordi Cruyff vast football knowledge has helped matters off the pitch at the Nou Camp

Jordi Cruyff vast football knowledge has helped matters off the pitch at the Nou Camp

Adama Traore has also been a big part of the Barca overhaul, with Xavi focused on wingers

Adama Traore has also been a big part of the Barca overhaul, with Xavi focused on wingers

There will be no complacency. He knows a big Clasico win will only have meaning if at the end of the season it has contributed to Barcelona finishing second breathing down the necks of Real Madrid into next season.

Not that Pique will be admonished for his social media comment. Xavi wants his former team-mate to lead. It’s been noted that contrary to the idea he would ditch the old guard, Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets have been vital in the second half of the season recovery.

Others who looked on their way out have been rehabilitated for the cause. Some Barcelona supporters think Dembele says: ‘I’m staying’ in those dressing room celebrations on Sunday. It’s not really clear if he does but what has been established is that his coach has won him over and he would prefer to keep playing under Xavi if he can.

Other lost causes such as Frenkie de Jong and Luuk de Jong are also back in the fold with the former set to be a mainstay into next season and the second grateful for minutes from the bench that he thought he would never get when Xavi took over. Everyone feels involved. Memphis Depay remains top scorer on 10 goals and knows he is important albeit from the bench.

Frenkie de Jong (right) has also been brought in from the cold under the new manager

Frenkie de Jong (right) has also been brought in from the cold under the new manager

Ferran Torres is flying high and was instrumental in Barcelona's thrashing of rivals Real Madrid

Ferran Torres is flying high and was instrumental in Barcelona’s thrashing of rivals Real Madrid

Defensively too players have come back from difficult situations. Eric Garcia was outstanding alongside Pique albeit without a centre-forward to mark as Carlo Ancelotti went uncharacteristically rogue with his tactics. Dani Alves and Dest have combined youth and experience to offer options at right back. And in the absence of them both on Sunday Ronald Araujo showed his versatility.

There are bigger tests to come for Xavi. One Clasico win – the first in three years – doesn’t make for a new golden era. Dembele is still out of contract. Adama will go back if Wolves hold out for 30m euros. There is unlikely to be an Erling Haaland signing. Gavi and Araujo need new contracts. And Dani Alves, Pique, Alba and Busquets will be 39, 35, 34 and 34 respectively when next season starts.

But the foundations have been laid to build the best team the club has had since the days when Xavi was wearing the captain’s armband on the pitch. And he has done it in just over 130 days since taking over.

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