By Murimi Daniel
Xavi Hernandez was appointed head coach of FC Barcelona replacing Ronald Koeman in November 2021. His appointment elicited mixed reactions from fans as some felt he was the right man and others were sceptical about his ability as a coach.
Sitting in ninth place in La Liga, the Spanish giants were a shadow of themselves. Coupled with the financial challenges the Club was facing, chaos ensued when star striker Lionel Messi left for PSG due to the inability by the club to renew his contract.
The marriage between the Argentine and the club was cut short and life without Messi had to become a reality sooner than expected. The atmosphere around and within the club was at an all-time low and Xavi was the man called to steady the ship.
Having no prior experience managing a club the magnitude of the Catalan giants, Barcelona took a risk hiring their ex-player. Boasting a win rate of 65% out of 100 games managing Qatar side Al-Saad proved enough to get him the job.
Looking back, it has not been smooth sailing but it has been very impressive. As it stands, Xavi has taken a mid-table team to second place. Barcelona has a game in hand and they are 12 points behind first place Real Madrid. Winning their game in hand will bring them within 9 points of their rivals.
What seemed like a dead season could turn into a late domestic title race between the two Spanish giants. Furthermore, they have progressed into the Quarter Finals of the Europa League and look set to win this title for the first time. Having defeated rivals Real Madrid 4-0 last month in El-Clasico sent a statement that this club may just be headed back to its old ways.
There have been a couple of lows such as losing to bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-2 and being knocked out in the Supercopa Semi-finals, being knocked out of the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2006 and losing to Athletic Bilbao 3-2 to get knocked out of the Copa Del Rey.
What does the future hold for Xavi’s young team? Well, qualifying for the Champions League is a priority. In addition, winning the Europa League would be historic for the Catalans.
With 9 games left to play, we might witness an unimaginable comeback as Barcelona try to bring the La Liga title back home and what could be better than nicking it off their bitter rivals. The race for La Liga might just be on. This team has shown time and again that it is never over until the whistle blows.