Barcelona begin the Xavi era tomorrow evening at Camp Nou. They take on city rivals Espanyol in a game that would usually be straightforward, but given their fallibility and Espanyol’s strength they go into the tie level on points in the league table.
Barcelona are ninth while Espanyol are eleventh, with Valencia in between. All three clubs are on 17 points, although Barcelona do have a game in hand. Of the 12 games they’ve contested so far in La Liga this season they’ve won four, drawn five and lost three. But they’ll be hoping for nothing but three points tomorrow night.
Because the return of Xavi and Dani Alves to Catalonia has energised a beleaguered club, injecting an enthusiasm that had been sorely lacking. Ronald Koeman just didn’t have a coherent plan to return Barcelona to where they want to be, but Xavi does carry an unmatched sense of competence and confidence. We know he can talk the talk; let’s see if he can walk the walk.
“I think we’re going to do well,” Xavi said pre-match in comments carried by Marca. “I’m going to give everything to make it happen. I’m going to give my life to make this work.
“We have to give 100%. We owe it to ourselves and to so many people, we cannot fail. At least in values. After that can depend on many things. But in terms of values, you cannot fail. The public should be proud of the team even when we don’t win.
“The objective is to win. We’re not in the best position. We can make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League, but that’s not the objective. Barcelona have to fight for titles. We’re not in the best situation, but let’s see how far we can get.”