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Five best and worst developments for Barcelona under the Xavi Hernandez era – opinion

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Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Barcelona and Xavi are set to go their separate ways after the club made the manager’s departure public and replaced him with Hansi Flick.

Despite a disappointing end to the coach’s tenure, his time at Barcelona was remarkably eventful, marked by a diverse range of highs and lows.

Now, we dissect Xavi’s five best and worst moments at the club since taking over the helm in 2021.


Five best moments

5. Pau Cubarsi and Lamine Yamal’s dynamic duo

Barcelona’s campaign will end with an empty trophy cabinet as the Catalans fell short in both European and domestic competitions.

However, the emergence of the young trailblazers Pau Cubarsi and Lamine Yamal often eclipsed the Catalans’ collective concerns, with their rise underscoring an unavoidable truth: Barcelona’s future is exceedingly bright.

Indeed, despite just being mere teenagers, Yamal and Cubarsi have commanded themselves like absolute veterans. Xavi being the one to unearth these two gems will be remembered for years.

The 44-year-old coach’s trust in young players from La Masia is a testament to his commitment to the age-old values of Barcelona.

Even if Xavi will no longer be guiding the pair from the sidelines next season, Cubarsi and Yamal’s growth will always be a reminder of Xavi’s trust in them.

4. Winter transfer window fever

In Xavi’s first-ever transfer window, Barcelona’s budget limitations meant they could not splurge excessively.

But despite the monetary constraints, the signings of Adama Traore, Dani Alves, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Ferran Torres proved to be masterstrokes.

Excluding Ferran, all these players were signed on free transfers and each of them contributed significantly in the club’s second half of the campaign.

The Catalans ended up solidifying a second-place position in the league, which was still a great achievement at the time, given Barcelona were in ninth place before the turn of the year.

3. High amount of goals

During the 2021/22 season, Xavi restored Barcelona’s stability in results but also provided non-stop action with countless high-scoring games.

In fact, the Blaugranes developed a knack for scoring four goals consistently, with heavyweights like Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Napoli, Athletic Club, Osasuna, and Real Madrid all conceding four goals each.

The fact that Barcelona were able to cruise past opponents while maintaining their attack-minded style of play instilled a renewed sense of optimism among fans and players alike.

2. La Liga Champions

With their first La Liga title since 2019, Barcelona triumphantly returned to their position of domestic dominance in 2023.

The culmination of an incredible season was their 4-2 triumph against city rivals Espanyol, which gave Xavi Hernandez the trophy for his first complete season as manager.

However, Barcelona’s success in La Liga was unofficially cemented dramatically with their 2-1 victory over Real Madrid, with Frank Kessie scoring a last-minute winner.

In addition to being a huge accomplishment for the team, Xavi, who played for Barcelona and won eight league titles in the past, took great personal pride in this triumph.

1. SuperCopa champions

Ending their trophy drought in January last season, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-1 to win the Spanish Super Cup.

After a difficult period of transition and reconstruction, this victory gave Barcelona supporters additional cause for celebration.

Barcelona dominated from start to finish, with Gavi notching 3 goals and assists. And the fact that the victory came against arch-rivals Real Madrid was extra special.


Five worst moments

5. 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid in SuperCopa

Barcelona were handed the opportunity to recreate history in the Spanish Super Cup final this year, but Real Madrid brutally dashed those dreams.

The Merengues scored four goals, with Vinicius Jr scoring a hat-trick and the Madrid team constantly asking questions of Barcelona’s defense.

Having lost in such a harrowing manner, the Catalans’ morale was understandably disrupted and it marked a stain on Xavi’s managerial career, especially considering the daring high-line he opted for.

4. Rift with Roque

Having signed Vitor Roque for a hefty price tag, Barcelona have hardly utilized his talents this season, with Xavi particularly unwilling to hand him regular playtime.

Despite the Brazilian requiring a phase of adaptation, Xavi continued to place Lewandowski in the starting XI, who at the age of 35, would have been better off with more rotation.

Roque produced a few promising cameos and consistently displayed his excellent understanding of space by making well-timed runs, yet it was never enough to convince Xavi.

The manager’s refusal to award him time on the pitch sparked concerns from the player’s agent Andre Curry as well, with talk of an exit gaining traction.

3. Demotion to European league

Although Barcelona secured the signing of many star players in the summer transfer window, it was still not enough to overcome the UEFA Champions League group of death last season.

Defeats to Inter and Bayern cost them gravely. Bayern Munich ultimately defeated Barcelona 3-0 at the Allianz Arena to confirm Barça’s elimination from the Champions League and relegate them to the Europa League.

Considering Barcelona’s successive demotion to the Europa League, it proved to be a great stain on the club’s legacy.

2. Defeat to PSG in the second leg

Barcelona were in pole position to perish PSG in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League this season, until they capitulated and ended up losing their heads.

After taking the lead in the first leg, Barça extended their lead in the return leg through Raphinha, but fatefully after his goal, things went south.

Ronald Araujo’s red card paved the way for PSG to make a comeback, while Xavi’s frustrations also earned him a suspension from the game.

Barcelona had one of the easiest routes to the final of the Champions League had they defeated PSG, but once again, their woes in Europe came back to haunt them.

1. Frankfurt fiasco

In the 2021/2022 season, Xavi had the opportunity to make something of Barcelona’s season by winning the Europa League.

Following a first-leg tie in the quarter-final clash against Frankfurt, Barcelona had entered the second leg with high hopes, backed by the expectation of strong support at the stadium.

But the occasion turned out to be one of the most embarrassing nights in the club’s history as white shirts raided the stadium and the atmosphere was overwhelmingly in favor of the visitors.

Originally, the German club was only given 5,000 tickets for the away game, as is customary; nonetheless, about 30,000 Frankfurt fans showed up in Camp Nou, packing the stadium.

As such, the Catalans suffered a dismaying quarter-final exit and in turn, could not avoid a trophyless season.

“What has happened in the stands is a shame that cannot be repeated, we must process the information we have to take action, but it’s unfortunate. We will have to be stricter and not allow certain things. I feel ashamed as a Barcelona fan,” Laporta had highlighted.


With Hansi Flick leading Barcelona into a new era, Xavi’s history is replete with both victories and setbacks. During his reign, there were setbacks and lost chances mixed with the positivity of future stars and historic triumphs.

The ups and downs of Xavi’s tenure as manager demonstrate the erratic character of the game and indelibly mark his contributions to Barcelona’s past.

But one thing is certain: Xavi’s impact will continue to mold the future of Catalan football as the team advances.

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