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Xavi should not be judged by the game against Arsenal – opinion



Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

FC Barcelona commenced their USA tour locking horns against Arsenal in Los Angeles.

Despite the game merely being labeled a friendly, the age-old notion of pre-seasons being the perfect breeding ground for reactionary takes and overblown estimations turned out to be true once again.

With the Catalan giants losing 5-3 to the gunners, there is still little reason to believe the negativity surrounding the Barcelona camp will be a recurring theme, for the reasons mentioned below:

Regaining rhythm

Barcelona began on a rocky footing with the initiation of the pre-season.

Having been struck by an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis, the opener versus Juventus had to be canceled.

While the game was simply a friendly with minimal long-term consequences, losing out on the opportunity to regain rhythm ahead of a more grueling schedule was bound to take its toll.

A majority of the squad was thrown in the hot seat against the Gunners right after recovering from a viral stomach bug. And this lack of match fitness on display was not a bolt from the blue.

Barcelona would not have had to worry about embarking on an arduous adventure with Arsenal as their very first foe, had the Catalan giants eased into their pre-established schedule.

Experimenting with a variation of players

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Club friendlies allow coaches to tinker around with their squad to the maximum degree.

In spite of results always holding value in Catalonia and fans demanding victories in all sorts of circumstances, the chance to test out different systems in an actual match is a rarity.

Xavi capitalized on the opportunity to experiment with his newly assembled squad.

The previous season gave an adept glimpse into the club’s best starting XI, and what formation extracts the players’ best facets.

But the coach fielded many different combinations.

Even though most of his important players were given play time, the usual faces that have formed cohesion over the past few months did not feature together.

The loss may have stung fans, yet Xavi was emboldened to understand the depth of his squad, which he managed to achieve.

The knowledge gained from losses is often more profound than the lessons learned from victories.

Through challenging experiences, an understanding of complex situations is acquired.

Sticking true to the box midfield, for example, would have arguably yielded a short-term gain; but provided little upside in the long run for a team that aspires to expand its versatility and implement a number of approaches.

Mismatch in terms of match fitness

As Barcelona’s opening pre-season game, it is hardly a coincidence that imprecision often overwhelmed the squad, particularly since many players were returning right after a viral disease.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, Arsenal were set to play their final pre-season game, having played four friendlies prior to this.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The match sharpness exhibited by Arsenal thus played a significant role in their victory.

Xavi spoke about the opposition’s excessive intensity in a friendly but his complaints holds some truth.

In addition to going all out for a game with little on the line, Arsenal committed a grand total of 22 fouls, which is 7 more than their tally of most fouls in a single game last season.

Barcelona, lacking fitness and still acclimatizing themselves, was unsurprisingly taken aback by the English side’s combativeness.

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