Barcelona under Xavi has been a completely revamped club. The former player now a manager has made Barcelona play like Barcelona again. Shades of the immaculate old have penetrated in the optimistic new.
There is still a long way to go, but Xavi is displaying his brilliance once again, this time by the sidelines.
Their match against Napoli in the Round of 16 of the Europa League was truly the turning point. Having drawn 1-1 in the first leg at the Camp Nou, the odds were against the Cules heading into the second leg.
But to everyone’s surprise, they produced some sensational bit of football and won the tie by winning 4-2 in the 2nd leg and 5-3 on aggregate.
So, naturally, they were favorites to win the first leg of the quarter-finals against Galatasaray. But on the contrary, the match ended at 0-0.
Galatasaray managed to hold Barcelona at Camp Nou!
Xavi Hernandez’s Barca, playing in Europe’s second-tier competition for the first time since 2004, dominated for long periods. But it was their Turkish visitors who almost grabbed a lead ahead of the return game in Istanbul next week, with Bafetimbi Gomis only denied a winner by a VAR review for offside.
Here is how the match played out!
Story of the match
The opening 45 minutes were played at a fast pace, with both teams pressing hard and moving the ball rapidly, without spending too much time between passes.
Barça was the better team, but the majority of their fine work was done in midfield, with Nico González, Frenkie De Jong, and Pedri all working hard to find gaps inside a well-organized Turkish defense.
The front three was less dangerous, with Memphis Depay being the only attacker who was actually involved in Barça’s dangerous moments during the period.
At the defense, the Blaugrana had only one real breakdown, which gave Akturkoglu a nice chance, but De Jong made a great stop on his shot to avert any bigger problem.
Xavi Hernández was dissatisfied with his side’s first-half performance and made a triple substitution at halftime, bringing on Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué, and Ousmane Dembélé to add some spark to the team.
Barça’s performance improved in the second half, with the team appearing more dangerous upfront and producing some nice chances.
They created numerous good chances, but the best came on a cross from the right that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang attempted to finish with a bicycle kick but instead turned into a pass inside the six-yard box for De Jong.
Who was alert to it and attempted to redirect the ball into the net but saw his effort hit the inside of the post and come out instead.
As the clock approached the final ten minutes, Barça was running out of time to find a winner, while Galatasaray was content to put all 11 men behind the ball in order to maintain the goalless draw.
Barça continued to apply pressure in the last minutes, but it was simply not their night, and the game ended all square.
“The feeling is bad,” Xavi admitted to Movistar+. “It’s not a good result, playing at home and dominating so much.”
the Catalan giants will likely have to find a victory next Thursday to extend their bid to win this competition for the first time.