When Barcelona were embarrassed last weekend, drawing 3-3 at home to second-to-last Granada, club president Joan Laporta took it out on the canapés and angrily upended a tray of spring rolls in a box of hospitality.
The next time it happens it will be Xavi and not the buffet that will take the blame: one more humiliation and he will be out.
The good news for Barca’s beleaguered coach is that Wednesday’s Champions League round of 16 match is against Napoli and they are in almost as bad shape as Barcelona.
Xavi would have been sacked after losing 5-3 at home to Villarreal last month but asked to stay until the end of the season and Laporta agreed. “We left it because of who he is,” he said in a recent interview.
Barcelona has the worst defensive record of any team in Europe’s top five leagues in 2024, conceding 23 goals in 11 games since the start of the year.
The writing could be on the wall for Xavi in Barcelona even before his summer departure date
Barcelona president Joan Laporta in his hospitality box before taking his revenge on canapés
It was another abject performance from Barcelona, who could only draw with lowly Granada.
Your browser does not support iframes.
Xavi has moved former Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen into midfield to try and plug the gaps, but last weekend’s 3-3 draw suggests it is not working.
Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri also has no defense. His team has conceded 27 goals in 23 games (only one less than in all of last season) and is 25 points behind leaders Inter.
Barça’s problems are worse because they extend beyond the field of play. Candidates sounded out over the possibility of replacing Xavi (Hansi Flick remains a contender, having signed with Robert Lewandowski’s agent, Pini Zahavi), are being told that several top players will have to be sold this summer.
There have been several attempts to oust Frenkie de Jong in recent years and, after winning just one league and one cup in four seasons, he is keen to move on.
Ronald Araujo is another sellable asset that is being pushed out the exit door. The club can only afford to keep the pair if they sign contract extensions that include pay cuts, and neither are willing to do that.
These players have no reason to make sacrifices just to help Barcelona. The same applies to kit makers Nike, who were ridiculously criticized by President Laporta recently for not increasing payments under an agreement that was signed in 2016 and will run until 2028.
“When we told them that other brands would pay us more, they made an effort that we appreciate, but it was not enough,” said Laporta.
A drop in projected revenue due to the temporary displacement of the stadium, a still excessive wage bill, a potential tax bill of £19.5m for disguising payments to players as payments to agents (subject to an appeal to the High Court ), in addition to the failure of a plan. selling parts of the club because investors have defaulted on payments, all of which creates a desperate short-termism that increases pressure on the coach and players.
Frenkie de Jong could finally be on the move this summer after resisting attempts to sell him
Ronald Araujo is another player with good value who could be transferred this summer.
The financial consequences if Barcelona does not qualify for the Champions League next season are unthinkable.
That’s why Xavi is ready if Rafa Benitez’s visit to Celta Vigo on Saturday and Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Napoli don’t go as planned.
“Xavi, we need a solution now,” is what Laporta supposedly told his coach after last week’s hospitality scene.
No amount of trays of canapés at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium next week will save him if there is another almighty humiliation.
EVERGREEN KROOS CONTINUES TO BE A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Everything currently indicates that Toni Kroos will not retire when his current contract expires at the end of this season. And for his return to the German team for the Euro Cup.
“I’m considering it,” Kroos, 34, said this week, adding that he was surprised at how fresh he still feels mentally.
Perhaps that’s partly because he never took himself too seriously.
The Spanish journalist Manolo Lama recalled this week how, while Kroos was waiting for his signing for Real Madrid to be confirmed back in 2014, he was taking refuge in a villa in Mallorca, besieged by television crews.
Kroos agreed to let the media in for 15 minutes of filming on the condition that they then leave and leave him alone for the rest of his stay.
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has never taken himself too seriously, which is reassuring
Ahead of Real’s victory over RB Leipzig this week, he was filmed crossing paths with Carlo Ancelotti after his press conference.
The manager asked, ‘Did you say something (of importance)?’ “Yes,” Kroos joked, “I told them I was renewing until 2028.”
After the game he was asked about a goal that Leipzig had doubtfully disallowed for offside. “It should have been kept, you can’t really argue against it,” he said.
Kroos is proof that the world does not stop if a player leaves his bubble, he behaves without pretensions and even admits, from time to time, that his team was lucky in a decision.
JUST DON’T THANK SOME COACHES
Let’s call it “successful coach syndrome.” It doesn’t affect all coaches (Carlo Ancelotti seems immune), but at Bayern Munich, Thomas Tuchel has a serious case.
The most common symptom is chronic dissatisfaction with the available playing resources: publicly asking for new signings to the point that players already at the club feel devalued.
Since the first day in Munich, Tuchel has lamented Bayern’s lack of quality when it comes to defending the midfield and center of defense.
Nothing seems to satisfy Thomas Tuchel as Bayern Munich’s season continues to spiral
That will not have gone down well with established stars such as Matthijs de Ligt, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich, and the more Tuchel talks about the need for his replacements, and the fewer minutes he gives them, the worse they perform when selected.
This condition is rarely seen in coaches early in their careers, but often develops after success has given rise to the attitude: “I’ve won things elsewhere, this isn’t happening here because you’re not giving me the chance.” tools to work”. ‘
It is one of the dangers of betting on a serial winner like Tuchel. And one of the reasons why struggling Bayern are doing everything they can to beat Liverpool is Xabi Alonso.