Barcelona’s recent narrow victory over Deportivo Alaves, secured by a Robert Lewandowski brace, might have added three points to the tally, but it did little to quell the rising wave of criticism surrounding the team’s performances. Xavi Hernandez, the Barcelona manager, spoke out about the adverse effects of media scrutiny, insisting that the negativity is taking a toll on the squad, especially the younger players.
XAVI AFTER ALAVES VICTORY
The win against Alaves came after a less-than-convincing display. With Barcelona recently scraping through a 1-0 victory against Real Sociedad, a game Xavi labeled as “totally unacceptable.” The midweek loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League further intensified the spotlight on Barcelona’s struggles.
In his post-match comments, Xavi acknowledged the impact of criticism, drawing on his own experiences as a player, Xavi said:
“I have zero doubts that the criticism from the press is affecting the team. It happened to me as a player, and I can see it now. There’s a massive wave of negativity around the team that is harming us. The criticism does not affect me, it affects the players. I can see it in their faces.”
XAVI ON THE NEGATIVITY SURROUNDING PLAYERS
The veteran manager expressed concern about the influence of negativity, particularly on the younger members of the squad. Players like Inigo Martinez, Robert Lewandowski, Joao Cancelo, and Ilkay Gundogan might be resilient, but the same cannot be said for the less experienced talents. Xavi emphasized the need to protect and nurture the younger players amid the heightened scrutiny.
Xavi pinpointed in-game mistakes as a source of insecurity among the players. Citing an error by Gundogan that led to Alaves’ early goal:
“Gundogan lost a ball he would not normally lose, and there is a transition. We can’t allow these mistakes. It is unacceptable. We are gifting teams too many things. We have dropped points at Mallorca, Granada…we are giving too much away, and it’s generating an insecurity among the players that is not good.”
As Barcelona navigates through a challenging period, Xavi remains aware of the delicate balance between constructive criticism and its potential negative impact on the team’s morale. The manager’s call to shield the younger players from the external pressure highlights the ongoing challenges faced by one of football’s most iconic clubs.