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Xavi Hernández has well and truly got Barça rocking again. The performance to beat Atlético Madrid 4-2 was one to get fans back on their feet and dreaming high. With four wins and three draws from the last seven games, the team has moved up to fourth in the table. That’s would be enough to secure a place in the Champions League next season, but there’s no reason not to start aiming higher.
Following a 3-3 draw away to Celta, Barça had slumped to ninth when Xavi arrived at the club. There was an immediate turnaround with a 1-0 defeat of Espanyol in the derby. Although that was followed by home defeat to Betis, it was clear that improvements were never going to happen overnight. Xavi needed time to make his imprint felt.
We were very good against Atlético Madrid, and we can't stop. This is the kind of football that gets results“ Xavi Hernández
The former midfielder has now reached double figures in the number of league games in charge, and in that time the team has climbed five places in the table. Just counting the results since he has been in charge, Barça would be second in the table, just two behind Real Madrid.
But it’s not just the league positions that have improved. It’s the football. The ball is moving around at a dizzying pace, the pressure on opposition’s defences is smothering, the depth is astonishing and the width is outstanding. Dani Alves, Gavi, Frenkie de Jong and a remarkable debut display from Adama Traoré were a few of the standout performances on Sunday.
“This could be a turning point” said the coach after the game. “But we have to stay humble and keep working hard.” How right he is.
Barça can now start eyeing the next rung of the ladder. Betis are third and have just two points more, albeit with a game in hand. Next up is a tricky trip to Espanyol for the derby at the RCDE Stadium (Sunday 13 February at 9.00pm CET). The same team as the one that Xavi faced in his first game in charge. May the good times continue!