Fabulous February for FC Barcelona – The Banner Newspaper
A great month for the Spanish team may be essential to the success of what remains of the season.
By: Emmanuel Mendez
After an unconvincing start to the season, FC Barcelona have regained their old rhythm of play under coach and former player Xavi Hernandez. Xavi was announced as manager on November 5 after former manager Ronald Koeman was sacked.
Barca struggled to get points in La Liga and were struggling in the 6th-10th positions while failing to break out of their Champions League group and descend into the Europa League. Xavi won his first match in charge against Espanyol 1-0 but the shortcomings were still there as the team struggled to play well. Xavi knows the ‘Barca style’ very well as he possesses a lot of possession and the ‘Tiki-Taka’ style of play.
He struggled to get his team to convert chances, and it was even more difficult when critical players like Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati and Pedri were injured. He wanted to sign more players for the depth of the team and to bring quality to the team. The January transfer window was key for Barca to improve significantly.
Barca have signed four players, including returning Dani Alves, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. These four players impacted the Spanish team in the best possible way. Dani Alves, 38, shows his defensive and attacking skills at right-back.
Ferran Torres is an exciting young prospect who came from Valencia and transferred to Man City, has excellent dribbling and positioning, and can play as a striker and on the left. Adama’s pace is a great choice in any team that punishes opposing defenders on counterattacks, and his crosses are essential for Barca strikers like Luuk de Jong and Auba.
Aubameyang is a great striker who has struggled at his former club Arsenal this season but Xavi managed to bring the former Auba back after he started scoring again. Xavi has improved players like Sergino Dest and Ousmane Dembele, who has contract extension talks with the club. Luuk de Jong, who previously wasn’t seen as a good option, also turned into a critical player for Barca in the decisive moments.
Barca academy players from La Masia have stepped up their game like Ronald Araujo and Gavi. Frenkie de Jong seemed to be regaining his form and Pedri played incredibly well.
In February, the first game that showed this improvement was against La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, who themselves are having a difficult season. Barca showed no remorse and won 4-2 at home.
Atletico took the lead early on, but it was all Barca. Dani Alves scored 4-1 and Atletico would recover a goal from Luis Suarez. Jordi Alba scored a screamer to level the game and then Gavi scored 10 minutes later. Araujo scored 3-1 before halftime, and many fans noticed a change in this Barca team.
Barca drew 2-2 against Espanyol a week later thanks to a last-minute goal from Luuk de Jong. Barca were impressed but still struggled, a bit, which was expected as there were new players to get used to in the squad. Barca’s various options on the bench brought relief to many fans, and Barca eventually avoided losses and moved up the standings.
In the Europa League, Barca had to face Serie A challengers Napoli. It was a tough game on paper and he drew 1-1 at Camp Nou. Barca played well but weren’t clinical in front of goal. They had 21 shots and five were on target. The second leg caught up with the misses as they beat Napoli 4-1 away. Jordi Alba, Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Aubameyang got on the scoreboard and showed they can play like this again.
The four-goal trend continued in the league after beating Valencia 4-1 and Athletic Bilbao 4-1. Aubameyang scored a hat trick in the game against Valencia. The Athletic Bilbao game showed just how much players on the bench can help kill a game when Dembele, Luuk de Jong and Depay scored after coming on.
These impressive victories took Barca to third place in La Liga. Their goal this season is to qualify for the Champions League. Barça hopes to have a good run in the Europa League and win a trophy. Xavi doesn’t think it’s impossible to win the league now.