It was Rinus Michels who taught Johan Cruyff the ways of total football, how to manipulate space and fluidity to beat any opponent.

It was Cruyff who then passed it down to his prized pupil Josep Guardiola.

Showing that these principles stand the test of time, Guardiola used them to help Barcelona dominate the world, with a certain Xavier Hernandez Creus at the heart of it all. 

Driven by our intrinsic love of fate and story, the idea of Xavi carrying on the Michels-Cruyff-Guardiola legacy has become something most culés dream of.

Xavi’s return symbolizes a return to Barcelona’s roots and a chance to fulfill destiny.

Some see the parallels to 2008, where a young, bright-eyed manager in Guardiola was brought in to revitalize a waning team.

Others foresee a Frank Lampard or Andrea Pirlo situation, where inexperienced club legends could not handle their first big jobs.

Going in-depth into tactics, managerial style, and results, what can we expect from Xavi’s Barcelona? Will he fill that long-vacated managerial throne?

A Leader on and off the Pitch 

Born and bred in Barcelona, Xavi made his first-team debut for his boyhood club in May 1998.

For the next two decades, he would reach heights previously unheard of, both internationally and at a club level.

He was at the heart of Barcelona’s midfield, notably winning four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles; he helped guide Spain to the 2010 World Cup and Euros 2008 and 2012. 

After leaving Barça in 2015, Xavi made his way to Qatar to play for Al Sadd.

Four seasons and two trophies later, he became their head coach. 

He was a puppet master on the pitch, a player with a sixth sense and third eye.

He was the master of La Pausa, the innate ability to control the tempo of the game, capitalizing on slow defenders leaving plenty of open space.

Stylistically or statistically, by sheer impact or influence, any way you cut it, Xavi was one of the greatest players of all time.

Tactics 101 

While Barcelona will not be getting Xavi “the player”, Xavi “the manager” is not devoid of praise.

He has transformed a quality Al Sadd side into a considerably greater powerhouse in Qatar, winning seven titles in two years while playing a

style of football emphasizing possession and urgency, width and close-control. His teams are fluid with the ball, often utilizing a 3-4-3 (3-4-1-2) or 4-3-3, and are swift to win possession back. 

It is a tactical approach that exudes everything you expect from a disciple of Pep Guardiola and admirer of Cruyff’s “Total Football”. 

Featuring in a recent video from The Coaches Voice, Xavi said.

“The most important, the most beautiful, and the most precious thing in football is to have the ball, to attack and dominate the game with the ball.” 

At Barcelona, one can anticipate all of these principles to be at the forefront of Xavi’s reign. Of course, the Catalans still attempt to play a possession brand of football now, but it is sluggish, slow-paced, and unimaginative. 


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