Pep Guardiola has never coached a national team in his life, yet he might be the most influential international coach of the generation.
Far-Fetched Friday: Barcelona Win Treble Next Season
Everyone who watched the last El Clasico left with one conclusion; Barcelona is back. Not that they were gone that long, but in the last few years, the team felt like it was held together by duct tape in the shape of Lionel Messi. And when that duct tape left in the summer, the entire structure came crumbling down, evident by a trip to the Europa League for the first time since 2004.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday we look at Xavi's project.
With an unmatched academy in La Masia churning out talent, a bold playing style spearheaded by a coach who understands the club more than anyone, and one of the best young sides in Europe - Barcelona look set for glory.
This season, Barcelona has used the most players of any club in La Liga (37), and their average age of 25.4 is the third youngest in the league. Keep in mind, that number is inflated by the likes of Dani Alves (38), Gerard Pique (35), Jordi Alba (33), and Sergio Busquets (33). This team's youth, pride, and ambition means they approach each game with something to prove, as we saw in their 4-0 victory over a Real Madrid squad that looks set to cruise to the La Liga championship.
By next season this squad will be even more familiar with Xavi's playing style, and potentially adding someone like Erling Haaland in the summer would vault this team to new heights. But even without him, I am confident in this Barcelona team. It feels eerily like the 08-09 team that won the club's first treble.
A young core in Messi (21), Pique (22), Iniesta (25), Dani Alves (26), Yaya (26), Busquets (20) was backed with the experience of Thierry Henry (31), Puyol (31), Marquez (30), Xavi (29), Eto'o (28), Abidal (29)
This time around, that young core is Gavi (17), Pedri (19), Ferran Torres (22), Frenkie de Jong (24), Araujo (23), Ansu Fati (19), Ousmane Dembele (24), and the experience comes from Pique (35), Dani Alves (38), Jordi Alba (33), Sergio Busquets (33), Aubameyang (32), Sergi Roberto (30), and ter Stegen (29).
You have a coach who is an ex-player and captain of the club in Xavi, just like Pep Guardiola in 2008. Both had already proven themselves as managers before taking the job, Xavi with Al Sadd in Qatar and Guardiola with Barcelona B.
And you could even point to the exit of a club legend opening the door for a new manager and the young players to grow into their own. Ronaldinho left in the summer Guardiola took over, and Messi left a few months before Xavi's appointment.
There are a lot of other variables to consider, but at the very least, yesterday's performance shows Xavi is building something special with this young group.
Even if it is not next year like my prediction states, I can confidently say this Barcelona team under Xavi will win a treble one day.
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