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Xavi working his magic at Barcelona: 12 points down to 12 up in a year



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

The difference a year has made for Barcelona is extremely commendable, to say the very least. This time last year, they were either struggling for positive results or were yielding 1-0 wins over mid-table teams.

So when they took on Real Madrid in March 2022, not much was expected mostly because they had not beaten Carlo Ancelotti’s team in each of their last six meetings (D1, L5). 

Interestingly enough, Barcelona’s last victory over Madrid before last year’s meeting dated back to March 2019 when Ivan Rakitic’s only goal helped Barcelona to a 1-0 win.

So when Barcelona came out 4-0 victorious, it meant a lot. Although for Real it was just a minor bump, the win took Barcelona up to the third spot in the tally as they narrowed the gap with the leaders to 12 points.

Now, it is one thing that Madrid did go on to win the league last season, but the victory Barcelona registered, thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres, established a firm foundation for the Blaugrana.

Life comes full circle

Fast forward to the date of writing, Barcelona find themselves at the other end of the spectrum. This time, Xavi’s men lead the points table, and this time, Real Madrid are trailing by 12 points.

What is even more commendable is that since the 4-0 win, Barcelona have won three of their last four matches against Real Madrid in all competitions. Interestingly enough, each of those three wins came this year alone. 

Starting off with a 3-1 triumph in Supercopa de Espana final, Barcelona went on to beat Madrid 1-0 away from home in the first leg of the Copa del Dey semi-final. Add to it the recent 2-1 win, and Barcelona suddenly find themselve on cloud 9.

For what it’s worth, Barcelona have had their fair share of hardships this season as well. 

They started the league campaign with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano, were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League along the way, but this allowed them to put their heads into their La Liga title charge.

With Real Madrid struggling for results post FIFA World Cup, Xavi made sure his men pounce on the given opportunity, and they did to mere perfection.

What seemed like a group of cluttered individuals during the initial phase of Xavi’s managerial era has now become a battering ram, at least in the league. This battering ram is not operated by any individual brilliance, rather, it is functioned by masters who are willing to put their bodies on the line for the team.

Up next for the blaugranes is the international break. A chance for Pedri and Ousmane Dembele to recover and return to the side in the hopes of extending their lead further in the table and hosting Real Madrid yet again in the return leg of the Copa del Rey.

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