Xavi, who spent 17 years with Barcelona’s first team from 1998 to 2015, joined Al Sadd in Qatar after the two clubs agreed to add a release clause to his contract. His current club decided to return after paying a release clause. Xavi said goodbye to the players after their last match 3-3 draw with Al Duhail, before pleading with the two clubs to “reach an agreement”, given Xavi’s desire to return to Barcelona.
For the first time in their history, Barcelona has lost three consecutive home games, with tactical issues, injuries, and fan protests all playing a role. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Napoli, and others have all been routed. With the arrival of Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona was rocketed into a state of euphoria. However, they have tumbled into a much darker place over the course of April. They went screaming, having lost three consecutive games at Camp Nou for the first time in the club’s history, with Xavi’s honeymoon period well and surely over.
For better or worse, the former Barcelona midfielder has had a rollercoaster start in charge, comparing the 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu to a sci-fi film while also admitting there have also been “moments of horror.”
More cuts from the latter genre were shown at Camp Nou last week, as Barcelona lost 1-0 to relegation-battling minnows Cadiz, on Monday and then by the identical score to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Further chapters are on the way, with Mallorca, some other team fighting for survival, going to visit Camp Nou this Sunday. Cadiz and Rayo wrote the screenplay that they must follow in order to defeat Barcelona. A low block, coordinated time-wasting, rotating by different players who are injured or have cramps and halting the game with routine minor fouls. The Blaugrana’s slump in form has jeopardised their chances of finishing second and qualifying for the Champions League. In particular, the performances against Cadiz were as saddening and unsmiling as the end of Ronald Koeman‘s reign.
The lustre of Barcelona’s state at the start of the season, when they went 15 games unbeaten, has faded. Losing at home to Eintracht Frankfurt was another crushing blow to their Europa League desire and the team’s performance in a stadium packed with joyous travelling fans who took pleasure in seeing their team go 3-0 up. Eintracht fans flocked to Camp Nou for the game, with a reported 30,000 in attendance, filling the famous Plaza Catalunya and singing their way to Les Corts. Even though they returned against Rayo, attendance for both games had been in the mid 50,000s, putting Barca Femeni, the club’s women’s team, to shame. They have played twice in the last few weeks at Camp Nou in the Women’s Champions League, with world-record spectators of over 90,000 in attendance to witness joyous thrashings of Real Madrid and Wolfsburg, respectively.