How verticality, intensity & defensive awareness are destroying Xavi's progress at Barcelona

Since his arrival, Xavi has managed to get Barcelona back on track. However, there are some niggling issues that are preventing the new gaffer from completely turning the club's fate for the better.

Xavi’s impact at Barcelona cannot and should not be understated. Yes, the title charge is officially a thing of the past but the Catalans’ surge for Champions League football has been a success. The victory over Real Betis on Saturday secured Europe for Barcelona and despite some recent disappointments, that fate is something many Culés would’ve happily agreed to before Xavi’s arrival.

With that being said, however, there’s a weird aftertaste in most fans’ mouths. And I wager Xavi is feeling the same thing. Barcelona could’ve - and perhaps should’ve - done more. The Europa League isn’t as prestigious as the Champions League but winning it would’ve surely laid some ghosts to rest, at least for the time being and until the team is fully ready to compete on all fronts. For now though, they can be a domestic force at best.

But I say this with a slight caveat. The caveat, as ever, is Barcelona’s capacity to defend at the top level. For all intents and purposes, the art of defending is and always has been a collective effort so blaming it on individuals won’t get us far. A new left-back who tackles the ball better than Jordi Alba is hardly the difference between Barcelona getting battered by the likes of Liverpool & Bayern Munich and their triumph on the European stage.