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Solid defense, not “tiki-taka”. Xavi’s realism brought Barcelona back to the podium | sports

Barcelona built a successful campaign to win the Spanish League title for the 27th time in its history, and the first in 4 years, based on a solid defense, which constitutes a radical change in the club’s traditional playing style.

Barcelona has a history of success by relying on an attractive attacking ball, or what is known as “tiki-taka”, but it took a different approach this season with coach Xavi Hernandez, who set aside traditions and focused on the solidity of the defense.

Perhaps the change of mentality was not entirely comfortable for Xavi, who said that Barcelona’s style was “inviolable” when appointed in November 2021.

He seemed frustrated most of the time in the interviews while being realistic, as he tried to defend his team even after victories, as if he wanted to explain his necessity to give priority to defense due to the rush to return the team to achievements.

And during his playing period, Xavi himself was a symbol of the fun attacking ball when he was a brilliant midfielder who achieved all the major titles with his club and the Spain national team.

And in March, after a strong defensive performance against his opponent, who had 65% possession of the ball but was unable to penetrate the defense, Xavi said after the 1-0 victory over Real Madrid, “It is not a betrayal of any style of play .. I am not satisfied with not having the ball, sometimes because Opponents or circumstances force you to, but defense is part of the game.”

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Top scorer Lewandowski

This season Barcelona won 27 of 34 matches, and although they scored the second most goals (65) and cemented their superiority with the presence of top scorer Robert Lewandowski, the basis for success was at the other end of the field.

Barcelona conceded 13 goals in the league, which is the best defensive score in the major European league competitions, by a large margin.

And at home, his defensive numbers appear more impressive, as he conceded only two goals, one from a penalty kick and the other from friendly fire.

This solidity in the back lines is credited to 3 players who presented an amazing season: goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen, central defender Ronald Araujo, full-back Jules Conde.

The trio played a prominent role in disrupting opponents’ attacks, especially Araujo, who is perhaps the best defender in Europe this season.

Barcelona’s last league crown was the 2018-2019 season, when legends Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were leading the attack.

Because of the rules of fair financial play, the two were forced to leave as the club fell into a deep financial crisis, and the team’s strength declined.

Xavi signed Lewandowski, Conde and winger Rafinha, and rediscovered Osman Dembele to give an additional luster to a squad built around the two young talents Pedri and Gavi in ​​midfield.

In the presence of experienced elements such as Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Ter Stegen, the team stuck together as a strong unit and defeated Real to win the Spanish Super Cup in January, in coach Xavi’s first title, before making his way successfully in the league.

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