LaLiga: Xavi calls for calm amid the latest Barca storm

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez called for "patience" after his team's draw with Rayo Vallecano in their season opener, but he will know the team is expected to challenge for the La Liga title this season after a raft of high-profile signings.

Barca struggled in front of goal in the disappointing stalemate at the Camp Nou last weekend and faces a tricky trip to Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Andreas Christensen all made their debuts from the start against Rayo and Franck Kessie made his first competitive appearance for the club as a substitute.

Barcelona, which has struggled financially in the last two years, is also waiting to be able to register France defender Jules Kounde after his arrival from Sevilla.

But Xavi has called for calm from supporters as he looks to bed in the new players.

"I understand the disappointment, the expectations are really high," Xavi said after the Rayo game. "We will have to analyze the game, improve and continue to believe in the style of play. Rayo defended well. It was harder for us to create than usual. It's a shame because we wanted to show the fans that we are on the right track. It is disappointing, but we ask for patience and for people to believe in this team."

Xavi helped turn the Catalan giants' fortunes around last season, leading them to a second-placed finish after taking over with their top-four hopes in doubt.

Barca still ended 13 points adrift of champion Real Madrid, which started its title defense with a come-from-behind victory at Almeria.

Carlo Ancelotti's Champions League winners play their second straight away game, taking on Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Real trailed newly-promoted Almeria for much of their first match of the campaign until Lucas Vazquez's equalizer, before David Alaba came off the bench to score the winner with his first touch from a free-kick.

The most impressive performance from one of the title hopefuls came from Atletico Madrid.

Alvaro Morata scored twice in a comfortable 3-0 win at Getafe as Diego Simeone's team, which won the title in 2021, laid down an early marker.

The Spain striker, who spent the past two seasons on loan at Juventus, has been linked with a possible move away from the Estadio Metropolitano, with Manchester United reportedly interested.

"Everyone at the club hopes he continues," said Simeone. "He is working very well, in an extraordinary way. I think that all footballers need to have confidence to do important things. He came back with great humility and wanting to work."

Atletico hosts Villarreal, who also won 3-0 last weekend against Real Valladolid, on Sunday.

Player to watch: Japan's Takefusa Kubo marked his debut for Real Sociedad with the only goal in the victory at Cadiz last week. The 21-year-old was signed from Real Madrid last month after loan spells at Real Mallorca, Villarreal and Getafe. Kubo will be hoping to impress on Sunday against Barcelona, where he featured as a youth player.

Key stats:
7: Visits since Barcelona last lost at Real Sociedad, having previously gone eight games without a victory in San Sebastian.

3: New Sevilla signing Tanguy Nianzou could become only the third player born in the 21st century to play in three of Europe's top five leagues, after Moise Kean and Ethan Ampadu.

Friday: Espanyol vs. Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla vs. Real Valladolid
Saturday: Osasuna vs. Cadiz, Real Mallorca vs. Real Betis, Celta Vigo vs. Real Madrid
Sunday: Athletic Bilbao vs. Valencia, Atletico Madrid vs. Villarreal, Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona Monday: Elche vs. Almeria, Girona vs. Getafe.
Viewing: Soccer on TV.


© Agence France-Presse

1 comment about "LaLiga: Xavi calls for calm amid the latest Barca storm".
  1. Kent James, August 20, 2022 at 1:42 p.m.

    Xavi is right; fans should have patience.  While Barca did have trouble finishing, and when they did hit good shots on goal the keeper (or a defender) came up big.  Barce dominated the game (possession-wise), and certainly worked to create chances.  RV deserves credit for good defending and creating 2 excellent chances (against the run of play).  

    I thought the Barca's right back had a questionable game (got burned defensively a few times), and a lot of their attack came down the wings, with Dembele and Raphinha, who were not nearly as effective as they were against Pumas.  Raphina needs to go more often to his right (to make his perferred cut to the left more open), and Dembele needs to not let his frustration affect his play (as he seemed to at the end of the game).  Both players are clearly dangerous, so I think their effectiveness will come.  Likewise, Lewandowski can clearly finish if given a chance, but he needs to get slightly better service. In some, it was not Barca's day; with a little better finishing, slightly better crosses, they could have won by 2 or 3 goals.  When De Yong came on late in the game, I thought he added a nice dimension to the attack; his ability to bring the ball forward up the middle is sure to unbalance defenses. While you hate to give up points, it happens.  Time will tell if that was an aberration or a trend.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications